Primstav: Christmas Clothing Day

On the 4th December was the remembrance of Saint Barbara.  The Catholic church isn't sure if this Saint ever existed but this day was very important in Norwegian folk tradition.  It was the day of making or mending Christmas and Winter clothes.  The clothes were brought out and sorted for mending or tossing.  And then the sewing circles would begin.  The farmer's primstav marks for this day were a tower, a cross sometimes with rings, chains or a sun. Barbara was the Saint that the Catholics prayed to for protection against storms and bad weather.

Old Norwegian Gløgg Recipes

On page 38 on Hanna Winsnes' cook book: Skrub: Three pægel of water (7.2dl) boiled with half a pound of crystal sugar or light powdered sugar, one pægel of Cognac (2.4dl) and a little cinnamon; then pour in a bottle of red wine, that must not boil. Take it off the fire, when it is close to boiling. Serve warm. Bishop Extract: For each bottle of red wine take one quarter pound of white sugar, which can be crystal sugar, and the juice of two bitter oranges (pommerance), that are pressed with a lemon juicer onto the sugar. If you want to use it staright away, also take a piece of thin peel, and immerse it in the wine; but if it is to be stored as an extract, it could easily become too bitter from this. When preparing, pour as much boiling water in, that it becomes warm; it is best to warm up the bowl first with hot water. Read about Hanna Winsnes and the First Norwegian Cook Book.

Hanna Winsnes – The First Norwegian Cook Book

Born 1789 in Drummen, Norway, Hanna Winsnes wrote what is considered to be the first Norwegian cook book.  Her book was named Lærebog i de forskjellige Grene af Husholdningen which roughly translates to 'Teaching book in the different sections of the household'.  It was published in 1845 and included everything from cooking and slaughtering to animal care and gardening.  She later published a book roughly titled 'The Household Book for Poor Families in Cities and Rural Areas' in 1862.  Being a priests wife, it would seem that she was invested in the poor and unfortunate, however, she was accused of being ignorant about the conditions of poor people as her books suggested there was always enough sugar and butter in the stores to bake and cook.  She published stroies in her own name as well as the alias Hugo Schwartz.  Winsnes died in 1872 with a relatively large collection of works for a woman of her time. This season we will be bringing you selections of her recipes and cooking tips.  Some are bizarre, others are hilarious, some are considered forgotten works of genius, and others have become standard festival meals in Norway. Her untranslated book can be found as part of the Documentation Project at the University of Oslo. For those who are interested in Norwegian nostalgia: The nineth edititon of Lærebog i de forskjellige Grene af Husholdningen printed in 1872 (the year Winsnes died)  was put up on auction at QXL.no (a Norwegian auction site) in 'used condition'.  It was close in September 2011 as unsold.  The final bid was kr45.

Norwegian Christmas Calendar – Christmas Workshops

Advent season is the time to prepare for Christmas. The animals are already in the barn, the winter wood supply is cut and stacked and the snow blowers have already had a good run. Part of the preperations for Christmas is making your own decorations. It is tradition in many communities around Norway to have Christmas workshops. It is a time where family and friends get together for a night (sometimes one night  each week leading up to Christmas) to make gift cards, tree hangs and table ornaments. They put on a big pot of gløgg, load up the plates with Christmas bakery, get out the glue, scissors and anything they can get their hands on to make stuff for Christmas. Traditionally this was a way to help each other finish the preparations on time for Christmas (Nordmenn in the 1800s during the dark season, with all the evil spirits floating round, thought Christmas workshops were especially important as there is safety in numbers). Today I find these Christmas workshops more to be about sharing good company than getting busy with it. With carols playing in the background and everyone around the table wearing nisse hats or St Lucia costumes, you can't help but get into the Spirit of Christmas. decorations1 What you need to have your own Norwegian Christmas workshop: A table full for people!  - You can either get everyone to bring all their bits and bobs from home to pool together or buy all the crafty-making stuff and divide the cost.  It's a time of sharing. A craft plan - if you want to make the most out of your craft making then it is best to have a couple of set projects to accomplish during the workshop.  You can have a theme such as 'Christmas cards' and then work on all the different types of cards for Christmas - greeting cards, table place cards and decorative cards to hang on the tree or as a window chain.  A couple of people beforehand can source materials, come up with artistic designs and then lead the group on how to do them at the workshop. Food - gløgg and hot chocolate are usual drinks.  Lucia cakes, gingerbreadjulekake and Norwegian seven sort cookies are regular treats. Over the next few weeks we will bring you some ideas on traditional Norwegian Christmas crafts and decorations but if you want to get started early you can always have a pepperkake party - make, bake and decorate.  We have recipes for pepperkaker with decoration ideas: Regular Peppekaker Recipe Farmor's Peppekaker Recipe Decorating Peppekaker Peppekake Christmas tree

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