Each country celebrates the holidays a little bit differently. In Germany children leave out letters for Christkind, an angel-like figure who brings them gifts, while in France kids set out their shoes with the hope that overnight they will be filled with gifts from le petit Jesus. In Australia, thousands of people gather in Melbourne to sing carols by candlelight on Christmas Eve, and in Austria, the feast of St. Nicholas marks the beginning of the season. Just like every other culture, the Nordic countries have their own traditions. Lucky for us, instead of flying halfway across the world all you have to do to experience the season like they do is head over to the American Swedish Institute for one (or all) of these events.
A Nordic Christmas: Nov. 3-Jan. 13
A museum tradition, each year five rooms in the mansion are decorated with trees, table settings, and displays that reflect the holiday traditions of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. To accompany this year’s theme of “A Royal Christmas,” each of the rooms will showcase its country’s royalty or head of state through photos and text. This year the Swedish Christmas table will be designed and installed with the help of Kerstin Hasgård, the curator of the Royal Palace collections in Stockholm. If you choose to tour the rooms on a Wednesday from Nov. 14-Dec. 12, it will conclude with a “royal wrap-up,” each of which further highlights one of the countries’ royal family or head of state.
Sunday Slöjd and Music in the Mansion: Sundays in November & December (except Dec. 2 & 30)
Each week from 2-3 p.m. one of the institute’s singing and dancing groups will be featured, including performances by ASI Spelmanslag Svenskarnasdag Girls Choir, Twin Cities Swedish Folk Dancers, Twin Cities Nyckelharpalag, ASI Male Chorus, Vasa Jr. Folk Dancers, and ASI Cloudberries. Before or while you enjoy the music, you can learn how to handcraft, or slöjd, something Nordic-inspired from 1-3 p.m.
Annual Lutfisk Dinner: Nov. 17, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
A Nordic holiday wouldn’t be complete without some authentic cuisine. Feast on dishes such as riced potatoes, meatballs, creamed kale, good breads, and of course, lutefisk. Reservations are required, but open seating allows you to arrive anytime during the designated time frame. Before Nov. 12: $20 ASI members, $22 nonmembers, $10 ages 6-11, children younger than 6 free; after Nov. 12: $30 per person.
Edible Architecture: A Family Gingerbread Celebration: Nov. 25, 1-3 p.m.
Gather your family to create your own gingerbread house, listen to traditional music and stories and visit with Tomte. Each group (up to five people) will receive a pre-assembled gingerbread house, or pepparkakshus, and candy decorations. Reservations required, $25 per house.
Julmarknad: A Swedish Christmas Market: Dec. 1 & 2
Enjoy performances by music and dance groups throughout the day while you taste some winter snacks at the outdoor food booths or Christmas bake sale and shop for handcrafted goods by local artists at the Christmas market, or Julmarknad. Visitors can also choose to participate in story time, Christmas cartoons or craft projects.
American Swedish Institute
2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis
Admission: $7 adults, $6 seniors, $4 children ages 6-18