Christmas 2013

Christmas Eve 24th December

This is the BIG day in Norway and an important day in our household. As we are British and
Norwegian here at home we have amalgamated Christmas into our own unique experience. So as in Norway at 5 pm the bell rings out and Christmas proper can begin.

This year for us it was bitter sweet and hence I have not posted in the last week, apologies to you all. I wanted to savour all the moments I could and not be squirrelled away in a corner of the house blogging; you see my sister is about to emigrate and this is to be our last BIG family Christmas for who knows how long.

Everyone descended to our house this year to be together and to make merry.  Cocktails are a must for us and bring with them their own happiness.  My sister and partner are dab hands at cocktail making and will mix some up at the drop of a hat, my favourite that they make?  Espresso Martini, to make the perfect cocktail follow the below instructions, and ENJOY!

Any family or friends gathering
is made extra special with an espresso martini

Ninda's Espresso Martini

Use equal amounts or vodka and Tia Maria (or any dark coffee liquor)
Equivalent to a shot of espresso, but made with instant coffee ie very strong
Sugar syrup to taste
Drop if vanilla essence

Put into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice - the water from the ice also helps to dilute it a bit

Have a testing taster before serving to make sure it is to your liking!
Pour and drink!

Norwegians tend to visit the church on Christmas Eve prior to the 5 o'clock bell ringing to place Christmas wreaths and hurricane candles on the graves of loved ones.  Norwegian churchyards are well kept and loved and all the twinkling lights on this night cheers the heart rather than saddens it. Families tonight will open presents, have a visit from Father Christmas, prepare his grøt and sit down to a large family meal, much as the British will do on Christmas day. Menus vary from household to household, a bit like us deciding whether to have turkey or goose.  In Norway the choice is rib of pork or pinne kjøtt (lamb).

As we tend to celebrate the opening of our presents mainly on Christmas day, over 30 years ago we began another family tradition of what is now infamously known in our household and amongst our friends as the £2 present. We always open our Norwegian presents on Christmas Eve and often Father Christmas has rung his bell outside our home and has come in to visit, much to the glee of the children.  One very memorable year, our daughter was so excited she jumped up and down as if a teenager at a pop concert, squealed with delight at Father Christmas entering our home and promptly fainted by all the excitement!  But back to the £2 presents. All family members buy each other a present to the value of £2, this is strictly adhered to and woe betide anyone caught spending more. Any friends who spend Christmas Eve with us are forewarned of this tradition and are required  to bring £2 presents for everyone.  Despite the rise in inflation over the past 30 years, we have stuck to £2 and refuse to change it, as our son said this year, £3 presents don't sound the same!  Each year we need to become more inventive and clever in our buying and great fun is had by all seeing what the others have come up with.  These are often our favourite presents. Everyone is on the same playing field, we all give and receive the same amount of presents and we have all spent the same amount of money. Love it, just love it.

In between eating a lovely dinner, opening our £2 presents as most families do, we needed to prep the veg, make the pigs in blankets, assemble the traditional and obligatory trifle, we are British after all too (we always use Delia's, for us it is simply the best) and had a mini mince pie bake off between family members.  It was a great day and evening.

Some of you may remember the post on nisse,
Where I mentioned it was very important to keep them happy, one such way is to make grøt.  Every Christmas Eve  (Jul Aften) it is traditional to eat grøt and make one for Jul Nisse (Father Christmas). Grøt is essentially rice pudding, but eaten as a main meal with a large dollop of real butter plopped into the middle or the bowl of grøt, then sprinkled liberally with sugar and a fine dusting of cinnamon. It tastes so very good.

Mamma's grøt

2dl of pudding rice
1.8l milk

  Add the rice to the milk.

  Bring it to the boil and continue to boil for approx 20 minutes until the rice is cooked.

♥  Add a pinch of salt before serving.

Dish into individual bowls and each person helps themselves to butter, sugar and cinnamon, see above picture.  This is Christmas, Norway style!

This night as with the past fourteen years, both our children went to sleep in their Christmas pyjamas, only ever worn on Christmas Eve and Christmas night, slept on hastily made Christmas pillow cases embroidered many years ago and  hung stockings by the end of the bed with nervous excitement that filled the house.  What a lovely time of year.

I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas and that you have continued old traditions and begun new ones as we have.

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