Not really a Christmas thing, but the sledge-like object in the picture at the top of the page is a spark, or sparkstøtting. As you can see, it has a handle at waist height and long runners behind the seat, so you can walk and push a child, or carry something. It’s not uncommon to see people taking them to the shops and around the town and children sometimes play with them on the road to our apartment. The pavements are rarely gritted, so sliding about isn’t too difficult. That said, at minus ten, there tends to be less ice and even though the snow is hard-packed, it often has powder on top. When the temperature rises above zero and it begins to melt, that’s when it is at its most treacherous.
The office is now filled with Christmas cheer. These three nisser look a bit more cosy than the one in the hotel last week. I was hoping to bring pictures of our Christmas lunch, but I ended up working elsewhere on Thursday. I did take pictures of some of the most common Christmas “biscuits” though. On the left are kokosboller, top right are pepperkaker and bottom left are havreflarn.
And this is risgrøt – basically rice porridge. This is what the nisser should be fed on Christmas Eve (Julaften). I had mine with butter, sugar and cinammon, but John tells me they eat it up here with spekemat – dried meats and sausages. One day I’ll have to give it a try.
As in the UK, there are lots of Christmas sweets and snacks in the shops. Many are marzipan based, with a particular slant towards marzipan pigs. There is also the delicious sounding Juleskum though, if you’re feeling brave. I also had to take a photo of a packet of salted caramel crisps. Salted caramel is lovely, but this is one of those moments when even I think they’ve taken it a step too far!
If you’re thirsty, the classic drink is gløg, which is a warm, spiced wine drink, a little like mulled wine, though there is an alcohol free version for children.
Alternative drinks include Christmas beers, made by all the bigger beer-makers and also Julebrus, which is a sweet, fizzy drink in either red or brown flavours. Mack is our “local” brewery (it’s in Tromsø) and it’s the most northern brewery in the world. As you can see, they make Julebrus as well as beer. The Julebrus here is different from the brands we used to buy when we lived much further south.
I’ll finish off with a few decorations. These are from a cafe we visited yesterday in Bardufoss. I was hoping they’d have some more Christmassy food, but nothing was leaping out at me, so I had a coffee instead, which was very pleasant.
And these are from my own Christmas tree. My mum sent me these tree critters, so they’re not actually Norwegian, but they are definitely now part of my Norwegian Christmas.