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The "Juletrefest"

"Juletrefest", literally "Christmas tree party", is a traditional Norwegian party for children, often held during advent, or sometimes between Christmas and New Year's Eve. It is usually arranged by the school or the kindergarten, and can thus be said to be a julebord for children, though it's normally not a dinner party. As the name indicates, there will usually be a Christmas tree present, and popular activities include walking around the tree in one or more concentric circles, singing Christmas carols, and eating rice pudding. There can also be other party games and eating of cake or various kinds of Christmas cookies (about which more later). Often, one of the parents not present at the party will dress up as Santa and pay a short visit to hand out candy and/or mandarins.

It is not traditional in Norway to fool children into believing in Santa, though at smaller family gatherings the father of the house will sometimes excuse himself to step outside for a moment, and by a weird coincidence Santa will always show up shortly afterwards. However, the children are usually not very old when they start questioning the appearence of Santa, wearing dad's slippers, when dad just happens to be outside. In such cases, it is good sport to have an accomplice put on dad's slippers and dress up as Santa, so dad can come back inside while Santa is still in the room.

This article ended up a bit shorter than I had imagined, but I can't think of much more to say on the topic. Looking back, I have real trouble seeing how any juletrefest could possibly last for more than three quarters of on hour.

-Tor Nordam

Comments

It is something I have encountered more in organisations, I think. And specifically organisations led by grown-ups.
Rebekah,  05.12.10 18:21

I was talking with my family last night, and discovered that my 9-year-old sister still believes in Santa. I had to question her very carefully to gain this intelligence. She told me she's only met the real Santa once: when she was five, and she got to sit on his knee for a photo. She's so, so adorable.

I think we should introduce the tree-circling thing over here. My church has its Sunday School party on Saturday. Maybe that would be a good time to do it.

Also: when I was still living in NZ, and my Grandparents had their own house, every Christmas Eve the Dutch side of the family would go to Oma & Grandad's for present giving - a belated Sinterklaas, I suppose. Santa would alway show up at those gatherings, and over the years my Grandparents got very crafty about tricking the younger ones. They'd always ask someone different to knock on the door. The littlees would then run to open it, and lo and behold, there'd be baskets & boxes of presents at the door.

When my cousins and I were about 8 we snuck upstairs to one of the bedrooms that overlooked the front door to see if we could spot Santa. It's one of my slightly embarrassing memories that on this occasion I was certain I'd seen Santa's sleigh flying away from the house right after the knock on the door. It's funny what the brain will tell you you've done.

(Sorry. Comment ended up being a little bit too long...)
Tor,  05.12.10 22:49

Video of people walking around the Christmas tree. It's not very good, but you can briefly see the concept of concentric circles going in opposite directions. As a bonus, you can also hear parts of one of the weirder Norwegian Christmas carols.
Camilla,  05.12.10 23:28

that this walking around the tree thing is also a tradition on Christmas Eve in some families (half of mine, for example -- we are not allowed to open our presents until we have done something insane). But that rarely gets you to concentric circles: there is usually only one.