|Baking in December.|
|baking in the sauna-oven.|
|two guys with a beer barrel.|
Christmas Preparations: The preparations for Christmas evening began several weeks before Christmas. An old almanak from 1399 has described that the baking was considered the most important housework in December, but brewing the beer was next important. The brewing had to be done with the utmost care, and even the poorest household had to brew a good beer stock for Christmas, called the "Christmas Barrel". If you had "tasted the Christmas barrel", it meant you were rather drunk. In order to secure the Christmas beer against the evil spirits, a portion of beer was sacrificed to the patron of the house by the big tree in the courtyard.
|dried and salted fish|
|baking forms, Sweden|
One of the oldest forms of a meat dish on Christmas Eve is probably a dish from Jutland, where the cooked head of a pig was served. But also in Sweden and in some districts of England was placed a decorated head of a pig upon the table. There is no trace in the 16th century of the later custom to let the roast goose be the festival meal of Christmas evening, and the turkey was not known. It arrived later in the 19th century's Scandinavia.
|dish for porridge, hole in the middle for butter.|
|butter, milk, cheese and bread.|
Before Christmas dinner had finished and before the prayer was said, another custom had to be complied. The father of the house proposed the toast of Christ or of the New Year. This was repeated round the table. The oldest and most honorable drinking bowl of the house was used, and in some places, especially among the peasants in Norway an old drinking horn was found from the depth of the cabinet.
|house from Thy, North Jutland|
Omens were taken after the Christmas dinner, this was sometimes done during meal. Someone would sneak out into the dark courtyard and look into the lit room. If he saw someon sitting by the table without a head this person would die the next year. This was however considered a dangerous way of taking omens. The proper way was first of all by using the Christmas candles upon the table. In the 16th century people were not accustomed to lighting, and to burn candles was a rare luxury - but during Christmas even the poorest home had to be honoured in this way. The candles had to burn all night through.
|candlestick , iron|
No matter how different the customs around the Christmas candles were in Scandinavia there is no trace that the candles were placed otherwise than in candlesticks , they were never placed upon a tree. The tree decorated with candles was not known yet. In Sweden they celebrated Christmas by rising a fir or a spruce outside the house, the natural symbol of the unconquered life, the tree, which was green even in winter. The same custom is known from Germany. The palm tree was used in similar occasions in the South as a symbol of the year and the life, since the tree shoots new branches each month of the year. The custom to decorate trees with candles was not of Nordic origin, as far as known this custom came from ancient Egypt and later from the Roman Saturnalias, where children were dancing around the lit tree and its gifts.
|19th century Denmark|
There was another question where the answer could not be told until the last day of Christmas: the question about the weather in the year to come. This was always important to a farmer. In order to find out the answer twelve circles were drawn with chalk upon the loft-beam, one circle for each month of the next year. Every day of the twelve days of Christmas a circle was marked. If it was a good weather-day the circle stayed empty, but if the weather was cloudy, rainy snowy the circle was crossed. After the twelve days of Christmas the circles on the loft-beam would show the farmer a weather map of the year to come.
180 g butter
5 dl milk (whole milk)
500 gram wheat flour
2 table spoon sugar
50 gram yeast
a little lemon zest
butter for baking.
melt butter, warm the milk in this, grate the lemon zest finely, gather the ingrediences and whip them into a ligth - uniform dough, which has to raise for 1/2 hour.
Bake the apple cakes in melted butter - in an apple-cake pan. (see image)
The apple cakes taste good with jam and sugar
variation: fill the cakes with a piece of apple.