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Blogger Party Holiday Treats in Australia and Scandinavia – Friendly Friday Challenge

Dancing at Christmas time in Skansen museum, stockholm
Dancing around the Christmas tree in (in Sweden)

Advent

After four weeks of Advent preparation, church bells chime signifying the start of Julaften, the Christmas period throughout Scandinavia. With traditional origins stretching back to pagan times, the Scandinavian countries celebrate the evening of December 24 with a Christmas feast and gift-giving. Songs are sung whilst walking around the tree placed in the centre of the room.

A Summery Australian Christmas

pool
Kids swimming in the pool

Over in Australia, Advent is non-existent and not celebrated. It’s summertime, it is hot and the school holidays are fast approaching. It’s a time to catch up with friends, take the kids swimming or to the beach, eat alfresco or hang out in an air-conditioned venue, such as a mall, while you shop for Christmas gifts. (We are big consumers – we love to shop).

beach cricket
Cricket

Australians celebrate Christmas when December 25 arrives, but it is not always at home. A game of cricket at the beach is a popular Christmas day activity accompanied by meat on an outdoor barbeque. The beaches are crowded.

Bribie island beach australia children playing
Christmas on the beach

Australian Christmas Food

Being multicultural in nature, you will find any and every type of cuisine in Australia, depending on the ethnic heritage. Despite the heat, most families keep to European traditions and more often than not, roast meat will be cooked, whilst salads, and increasingly Vegan dishes may feature on the table.

rice porridge christmas food denmark
Ris a la Mande – Danish Creamed Rice Porridge

Having Scandinavian connections, our family honours Scandinavian traditions celebrating with Danish and Norwegian food as well as Aussie fare, including the Ris a la Mande Creamed Rice Porridge. Still we ALWAYS have a Pavlova on the table. This is essential!

Last Christmas, this fancy variation made an appearance.

Pavlova
Australian Pavlova friendly-friday treat challenge

Nordic Christmas Food

In Norway, steamed, salted and dried ribs of mutton, or Pinnekjøt, is the traditional Christmas dish, while roast pork is on the menu in Denmark, along with an entree of smoked eel. Both the Danes and the Australians love sausages (on the Aussie barbeque), at Christmas, but the Danes go one better with a “Julemedister,” – a speciality Christmas sausage that puts the humble Aussie Xmas snag to shame.

Danish Christmas Sausage

Christmas Desserts

biscuits
Home made Christmas Treats


Norwegian traditions prescribe seven kinds of Julekaker or Christmas pastries to be made in Jul. Gingerbread is a favourite, as are gingerbread houses decorated with lollies, whilst gingerbread cookies are even used for decorating windows and the Christmas tree as well.

My first gingerbread house.

Out in Australia, I also bake Shortbread for gifts and plenty to eat myself! Got to keep that Norwegian tradition alive in some way!

Christmas baking

In both Scandinavian countries, eating rice porridge after the Christmas feast, with a single almond in it, is a widespread custom.

In Denmark, it’s called Ris ala mande and contains sugar, cream, and a dose of sweet sherry, sweeter than the Norwegian version of Risengrøt. Both may be served with warm cherry sauce, however, I prefer it hot or cold with an Australian twist – adding Golden syrup – a byproduct of sugar cane.

The person that finds the single whole almond in the rice porridge gets a special prize or gift. If you find you have the almond early on, you secretly hold it in your mouth until dessert’s end to hold the suspense!

Making Christmas treats

Making your own marzipan sweets and decorating them in individual ways is popular in Denmark. Marzipan is not something you’ll find in Australia. You have to know a Scandinavian friend to find any!

Christmas Drinks

Norwegian breweries release a traditional beer, as well as a Christmas soft (non-alcoholic) drink, known as Julebrus. You might find a Swedish version at your local Ikea store. And there is always some Aquavit – traditionally drunk after a heavy, fatty, meal, purportedly as an aid to digestion! Excuses!

Glogg, a special mulled wine, is popular in Scandinavia. The only Glogg I found in Australia came from my local boutique tea shop who celebrated Scandinavian traditions by releasing a Glogg loose-leaf tea, mimicking the mulled wine flavours of cinnamon, cloves cardamom and orange.

Scandinavian Christmas traditions

According to Norwegian tradition, an elderly Nisse or elf with a long beard hangs out in the barn, on Christmas Eve, looking for porridge to eat (called grøt). Norwegians living on farms knew to put a bowl of porridge out in the barn, to keep the Nisse happy and prevent bad luck the following year. The Jule Nisse also brings gifts to the children but is gradually being replaced by Santa Claus.

Do we have Nisse in Australia? Sadly, no. But Santa and Jingle Bells on infinite repeat, is omnipresently heard. Does that count?

How do you celebrate Christmas?

Join the challenge and post about your holiday treats. Let’s link up and party!

Join host Sandy in the blogger party for Friendly Friday and visit bloggers joining us in celebrating this Christmas.

Sandy from The Sandy Chronicles

Sarah from Travel with Me

Manja from Embarrassment of Riches :-

Festive Bon Bons by Deb, Sue, Donna and Jo

Checking in with Trent’s Weekly Smile 🙂

68 thoughts on “Blogger Party Holiday Treats in Australia and Scandinavia – Friendly Friday Challenge”

  1. Hi there! Thanks for the mention of our Festive Bon Bons Link Party and you appear to have experienced both the Hot, Hot, Hot Australian Christmases and the Freezing Temperatures for a Scandinavian Christmas. For so long we tried the traditional hot Christmas Day fare but these days are a little more sensible with seafood platters being the way to go. Best wishes to you for the Festive Season.

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  2. Truly informative post!
    The Australian Pavlov has to be the NOMMIEST thing I’ve seen around! I can literally taste it from the picture. Just fabbb looking and makes my mouth water.
    Such beautiful Christmas traditions around the world. I’ve always wanted to experience a festival authentically with people who celebrate, the traditional way 🙂 In India, most Christians converted only 2-3 generations ago, so that leaves not many Christmas traditions native to this land.
    A White Christmas is a dream 🤩 But Ofcourse, even in Australia, you probably don’t relate to the term “white Christmas” 😉 Well, the whimsies of the Southern Hemisphere! 🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No white Christmas here Sam! I had to go to Europe for that. The pavlova has a recipe linked to it if you want to try it. It is super easy and believe or not, it works well, even in the heat.
      Happy Christmas to you. Do Hindus mark the occasion at all in modern times?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Why not? While we don’t celebrate it ourselves, we do receive plum cakes and some treats from our Christian friends 😀 I guess spreading love and neighbourly affection is what marks the spirit of the festival. In that sense, we celebrate it too 😉

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  3. This was so interesting! We have been in Denmark during Christmas and enjoyed the full Danish feast experience and I loved the rice pudding. You’ve summed up the difference between Australia and Scandinavia so well! Thanks for joining us for our #festivebonbons linkup

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    1. Great to hear that you are a fan of Ris a la mande! To be in Denmark at Christmas is very special. I long to have another Christmas there one day. Were you lucky enough to have a white Christmas?

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      1. No snow there but very cold and very different to our usual Aussie celebrations. I love the fact that it’s dark so early the Christmas lights actually mean something!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like your tastes sre similar to mine, Manja! My gingerbread house design has improved but the humidity plays havoc with its strength. As for marzipan, I am very particular about whuch one I like. Troika bars from Nidar, Norway are amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We have a variety of Nisse around here too, Anne. I think they are such a cute ornament. Especially the ones that are fat and have a full beard, with their nose poking out from under the felt hat.

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  4. Wow, I learned so much about Scandinavian customs from this post, and quite a bit about Australian ones too! I love the sound of Ris ala mande and the custom of searching for the single almond – very like our tradition of hiding a penny in the Christmas pudding. But I’m surprised you can’t get marzipan in Australia. It’s such a big part of English Christmases too, an essential layer between the Christmas cake and its icing and popular in petits fours too. With so many ex-Brits over there I would have expected it to make an appearance!

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    1. I often think that the search for the almond in the rice pudding is similar to the search for the sixpence in the Xmas pudding. (is it supposed to be a penny or a sixpence?) I do remember having a sixpence pudding just after decimal currency was introduced, before the coins were minted in a way that you could no longer safely use them in cooking. It was such fun for children.
      I think there are specialist delis where you would find Marzipan, Sarah, but it is certainly not readily available like you may have anticipated. And almost every Aussie who hasn’t got the Scandi or European connection with scoff at the thought of Marzipan. They don’t like it. Ikea do their best to turn the tide with their Princess cakes, but perhaps there is too much competition from other sweets, for it to be a hit here. I didn’t know it was an English thing! It is surprising more don’t like it.

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  5. I love everything about this post – colorful, informative, and great-looking food! I saw the almond in the porridge thing enacted in a Hallmark movie. The gal who found it was the next to be married – cheezy. I like the gift idea better. As a Floridian, I can relate to going to the beach on Christmas day. Thanks for sharing your beautiful customs.

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    1. Thanks ever so much for saying so, Suzanne. Fancy the almond being a portent of a marriage proposal. A bit like the bouquet being thrown at a wedding I guess? It is good to know that there are others who don’t experience the delights of a snowy Christmas. How warm does it get in Florida in December?

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      1. It varies from year to year, but temps are typically in the 80’s for most of December. Sometimes we get lucky and have a cold front dip down from the northern states, cooling us down to the 50’s or 60’s which can be fun too – sweater weather!

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  6. This was so much fun to read, Amanda!!! Anything with gingerbread in any form or pavlova in any form has my vote. My mother loved marzipan so much she would make herself sick on it because it was at the time rarely available. I can handle a little. Not my go-to though. It seems simple to make from recipes I have seen. I don’t know what we are doing for Christmas this year since we are not home. It will be spent in a hotel. Every year has been a little different so there are no hard and fast traditions. Thanks for the pavlova recipe. I probably copied down when you posted it but not had time to think about it.

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    1. We are alike with our tastes of Marzipan, Marlene! But the Troika bars from Trondheim in Norway you would like. The small layer of Marzipan is a delight. Your poor Mum over-indulging on Marzipan! Not fun! I might have to look at making some to see what it is like. I had not thought of ever making it before. The pavlova is a fail-safe recipe as long as you don’t use eggs that are really fresh. They just don’t whip up well if they are fresh.

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  7. Hi, Amanda – I enjoy learning about different holiday tradiitons across cultures. Your comparison of Scandanavian and Australian holiday is a wonderful illustration of some of these differences. I like how you mix both traditions in your home. I especially like the tradition of the whole almond being hidden in the rice porrige (and someone then hiding that almond in their mouth throughtout dessert). Although we are not Scandanavian, I may just give that practice a try with our grandson this Christmas.
    Thank you for linking up with us at #festive_bonbon.
    Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just read that you mix up and try new traditions each Christmas, Donna so I think it would be a great idea to try the whole almond with your grandson as long as he is not allergic and can handle nuts. (I am unsure how old he is). But it is a fun thing for anyone really. You don’t have to be Scandinvavian. I have a friend who chops off the smallest amount off from each almond that goes in to the rice and then adds the whole almond. Because there isn’t much difference, everyone thinks they have the whole almond – but they don’t, as there is a tiny bit chopped off so the suspense increases!
      You could even adapt it to other desserts I guess, not just creamed rice porridge.

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        1. Excellent. I like that you might make something that has come via Denmark to Australia and then back across the Pacific again. Transcontinental Christmas dishes.

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  8. I cant’ get past the image of Christmas on the beach with a BBQ!

    I enjoyed reading about the Aussie vs Scandi Christmas traditions. I can relate to the delicious cookies from Norway & Sweden. Have you ever tried making marzipan? It’s very easy. My husband loves the stuff. I pretend to not know how (it’s a way of portion control) but then he’ll go and make it himself!

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    1. I have seen miniature Christmas trees on the beach as families jump around playing beach volleyball or Christmas lunch. I wouldn’t like sand in my turkey dinner though….
      I haven’t tried to make marzipan, but Marlene indicated it didn’t look that difficult but as there is not many fans for it in this house, I don’t that I would bother. On the other hand, it would make great gifts for my Scandi friends. How does your husband make it?

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  9. I had a story book about the Nisse and a present that was wrapped in many layers and I think you threw at people. Began with J? Love the Danish Santas. Very Another Round. #FestiveBonbons

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    1. I can imagine running around on the beach outside is an image that holds a lot of attraction at the moment, Laurie. In the cold and with Covid, one can’t but help wish for someplace free from dramas. Our borders are on the cusp of opening up, with some already open, so Covid will hit here very soon. We are almost 85% vaccinated now, so we hope that will give us some protection. But then there is Omicron….so we must still be a little vigilant. At least cricket is a socially distanced game anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Being an introvert does have its advantages. I wonder how we will fare in coming weeks? We have been warned to expect waves of infection, especially given Christmas celebrations and socializing.

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  10. Love love love this. The comparison of the different traditions brings them alive. I especially love the foodie examples. As an aside, I’m looking for marzipan at the moment because I want to make a stollen. Thanks for helping spread the joy.

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  11. nice comparison of Australian and Scandinavian ways of celebrating Christmas. it’d be odd to spend Christmas at the beach for me, I mean, it is 7c here right now, no snow (but if I want I can find snow half an hour away). do you celebrate also Christmas when it is actually winter in Australia? I heard some bloggers do that, have a July Christmas

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    1. You are knowledgeable about Christmas, Tanja. Yes we celebrated Christmas in July this year. We don’t do it every year but it is becoming more popular. It is so much easy to eat lots of rich food when the weather is cool. Hard to eat when it is over 30 degrees outside. One just feels like eating salad – not too Christmas like.
      Enjoy your cool Christmas like weather and Merry Christmas to you and your family.
      https://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/2021/07/09/a-christmas-in-july/

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  12. I really enjoyed this post about Scandinavian Christmas traditions, and to learn more about the Australian traditions. I didn’t know people don’t celebrate at home much. I’m Swedish, but liv in Ireland since almost 3 years. You might be interested in my posts about Advent and Christmas. We’ve taken the best of Swedish traditions and would like to mix them with Irish traditions but the pandemic has prevented us to do it much – maybe in the future. At least we’ve embraced the tradition of mince pies and Christmas cake.
    Glögg is very easy to make if you want to have some! You just take red wine, heat it with sugar, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and orange peel (I hope I’m not missing something) in a pot, then filter off the spices. You can also take 100 ml or so of the wine and infuse it with the spices for a week and then heat it up with the rest of the wine (I have a feeling it’ll give more flavour). We add a bit of whiskey to ours too.
    Your plate of julkakor makes me miss my childhood Christmases! Perhaps I’ll bake some during the week!

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Susanne and I love that we both live on a peninsula and have Scandi connections and were once nurses! It is great to hear how you are blending Swedish and Irish traditions. It is important to not lose too many via the passing of the generations. Many were lost in my family til I reclaimed them!
      I can hear how much you miss your family and I do hope you are reunited soon.
      I listened to the song and can see why it is popular, despite the controversial lyrics. Mind you, the lyrics are kind of mild compared to some commerical TV shows these days.
      Thanks for the Glogg recipe. I might give that a go! God jul!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. So there are similarities you recognize are common to both Scandinavian traditions and your own. Perhaps brought over with the immigrants years ago. Gingerbread seems pretty ubiquitous, albeit in slightly differing forms and with slightly different names. Most European countries seem to have their own recipe.

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