‘Tis the Season for Scandinavian Christmas Fairs!

Norwegian Swedish Danish Christmas Los Angeles

Thanksgiving may still be a couple of weeks away, but the season for Scandinavian Christmas fairs has arrived in Los Angeles. Norway, Sweden, and Denmark all offer events with a cozy Christmas atmosphere and unique vendors, foods and drinks, and entertainment. The fairs may require a bit of driving, but they’ll be worth it. Presented in order of occurrence, here are the upcoming Scandinavian Christmas fairs in the greater Los Angeles area. Did I miss one? Please let me know in the comments.


Norwegian Christmas Fair – Julebasar

First on the calendar is the three-day Norwegian Christmas fair Julebasar hosted by the Norwegian Seaman’s Church in San Pedro on the weekend before Thanksgiving. I’ve been at this event several times both as a guest and as a volunteer and it never disappoints. Warm gløgg (traditionally, mulled red wine with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, raisins, and slivered almonds, but for this occasion, non-alcoholic) and ginger snaps welcome you as you arrive. Christmas decorations, music, candles, and the smell of freshly baked goods set the mood as you wander the booths filled with Scandinavian goods of all kinds. There are daily raffle drawings with wonderful prizes and even live entertainment if you‘re there at the right time. On Saturday there’s a children’s workshop to occupy the young ones while you can enjoy festivities on your own. And of course, the kitchen offers a wonderful assortment of traditional Norwegian foods. My favorite is rømmegrøt (sour cream porridge served with butter, sugar, and cinnamon), but there is so much more to choose from such as open-faced sandwiches, meat stew, pea soup, and Norwegian sausages (at least in previous years). And don’t forget to check out what’s for sale in The Bakery and in the church’s store! The Julebasar is free to attend and all are invited. You do not need to be Norwegian nor a member of the church.


SWEA Orange County Swedish Christmas Fair

On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, SWEA Orange County (Swedish Women’s Educational Association) hosts its annual Swedish Christmas Fair in Huntington Beach. Come for Swedish handicrafts, traditional Swedish foods and home-baked goods, a gløgg bar, dancing around the Christmas tree, and Lucia pageants (at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.). There will also be a fish pond and jultomte and much more! Entry fees are $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 5 to 15.


Scandinavian Christmas Fair – Julemarked

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Scandinavian enthusiasts can visit the Danish Church’s Scandinavian Christmas fair Julemarked in Yorba Linda. This annual event features Scandinavian vendors selling items imported from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland or that feature Scandinavian themes as well as traditional Danish foods and drinks such as smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches), æbleskiver (Danish pancake balls) with powdered sugar and raspberry jam, strong Danish coffee, and gløgg. Danish pastries and selected meat products are also available for purchase. I have not attended this event, but maybe this will be my first year.


SWEA Los Angeles Swedish Christmas Fair

Last on the calendar is the Swedish Christmas Fair organized by SWEA Los Angeles (Swedish Women’s Educational Association), which is another favorite yearly Scandinavian event of mine. It takes place the first Sunday in December in Torrance. The event is in its 38th year and welcomes about 3,000 visitors during the one-day event. Highlights of the fair include a multitude of vendors selling Scandinavian gifts, books, music, handmade crafts, traditional holiday foods, and baked goods as well as traditional entertainment with folk dancing and Lucia pageants. When you go, make sure to be there for one of the two Lucia pageants. They perform at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. There is also a children’s corner where kids can create crafts to take home and visit with Santa. To top it all off, there is also a gløgg bar and Café SWEA serving traditional foods and baked goods.


Are you unable to attend a Scandinavian Christmas fair or would you like to bring the cozy Scandinavian Christmas feeling home? See my list of books for the family written by classic and contemporary authors from within and outside Scandinavia about Christmas and wintertime in Scandinavia at Book List: Christmas in Scandinavia.

Volunteering at Norwegian Church’s Christmas Bazaar 2016

volunteering

This year I switched things up and volunteered at the Norwegian Church’s Christmas Bazaar instead of just attending as a guest. My day was all about food which suited me perfectly.

For me, food has always been a main reason for going to the event. I come to eat foods I only eat once a year, to buy freshly baked goods from the bakery, and to stock up on foods and drinks for Christmas time. On this occasion, I was assigned to the kitchen and café, and that was an assignment I appreciated and enjoyed greatly.

My day started out with getting wienerpølser (Norwegian sausages) in a pot for simmering, stirring lapskaus (meat stew), and slicing geitost (goat cheese) for julebrød (sweet bread with raisins). Once the event officially began, I headed out to the café and served cake and sandwiches to eager guests. Continue reading

It’s Norwegian Christmas Time!

2015 plakat julebasar

Click image to clearly view details

I’ve gotten used to the fact that the Norwegian Christmas Fair happens before I’ve even had a chance to plan my Thanksgiving. I look at it as a way to begin the whole holiday season. This year I was grateful to have an American friend whose other half is Norwegian join me for the excursion to San Pedro. We headed down Friday morning to be there when the fair opened.

I love the warm welcome we receive as we enter, and the offer of gløgg (mulled wine, in this case non-alcoholic) and pepperkaker (ginger snaps) certainly helps put you in the mood for what’s waiting inside. The inside of the church is festive with Christmas lights and decorations.

Just as you enter, you’ll see The Bakery. Don’t delay buying baked goods because they run out. I especially like the ones that come right out of the oven. I always buy to bring home. The after school treat that day for my boys was a fresh skolebolle each along with saft I’d bought from the church store.

Norwegian Christmas Fair BakeryIn the nave of the church you’ll find all the booths. They offer Scandinavian goods of all kinds, both imported from Scandinavia and homemade by members of the church. We arrived when the fair had just opened so the area around the booths was packed with eager shoppers. There was no way to take a picture that would actually show anything. I had to return and take pictures when all the first attendees were enjoying their lunches from the café. Continue reading

Christmas Bazaar 2014, just the beginning

Bazaar openThe season for Norwegian and Scandinavian events has begun. Yesterday I went to the annual Christmas Bazaar/Fair at the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in San Pedro. It’s always held jointly with the Swedish Church the weekend before Thanksgiving. I’ve gone every year the last few years. I’ve even volunteered a couple of times in the past. This year I went alone on Friday, the first day it was open. Last year I went on the weekend with the kids and my parents who were visiting. The year before that it was just me and the kids (about which you can read more here). It’s always a very pleasant, low-key event.

A warm cup of gløgg and tasty ginger snaps welcome you as you arrive. And there’s a nicely decorated Christmas tree to put you in the mood as well. There’s Christmas music in the background, and on the weekend, you may be lucky to hear some live music as well. Continue reading

Chillin’ at The Queen Mary

We didn’t quite get a chance to do the whole Christmas thing like we usually do this year. This season, there wasn’t the same opportunity nor urgency as other years to get in the Christmas spirit. My parents came for an almost-three-week visit at Thanksgiving time, we’re only in this house temporarily, and we weren’t going to be here for Christmas anyway. Also, our weekday afternoons and weekends were filled with soccer practices and games unlike we’ve ever experienced before so we really had no time for much of anything else. We didn’t even have a tree this year.

But we did try a new special holiday event this season! We went to CHILL at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, “SoCal’s only frozen holiday adventure,” in its second year. A friend and I had discussed the idea of going last year when it first appeared, but we didn’t get around to it. This year I saw discounted tickets offered at Living Social so I seized the opportunity for us to go while my parents were in town. They always enjoy experiencing something new while they’re here, and I was curious about it.

Chill ad

We visited CHILL the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (its fifth day after opening) with the hopes that the crowds wouldn’t be too overwhelming yet. In that respect, it was great. The crowds were very manageable, and we experienced minimal lines and easily found tables to eat at. However, it felt like we were there too early in the season. Some activities and areas weren’t open yet, there were no holiday carolers or holiday-themed entertainment as mentioned on their website, and they still had some fine-tuning to do with regards to ice tubing in particular.

Chill Ice Kingdom Entrance

The Ice Kingdom was CHILL’s main attraction. It was a separate area inside their great, big dome known as The Igloo. It is “an awe-inspiring exhibit featuring larger-than-life ice creations that towers over 2.5 stories tall and used more than two million pounds of ice.” CHILL’s website had warned us that the temperature inside the Ice Kingdom was kept at 9 degrees so we dressed accordingly and brought outerwear for sub-freezing temperatures, or at least we did the best we could living in Southern California and having visitors who came to enjoy warm Southern California weather. Before entering, we were offered long parkas which we gladly accepted when they assured us that it really was only 9º inside the Ice Kingdom, maybe even colder. Continue reading

Christmas in Los Angeles

I’ve lived in Los Angeles just over 18 years so I’m finally getting used to celebrating Christmas dressed in short sleeves and surrounded by palm trees. While living here, we’ve had the occasional cold and snowy Christmas in Idaho with Hubby’s family or in Connecticut with my sister and her family, but more often than not, we’ve been in warm and green Los Angeles.

Advent calendar

Our family advent calendar

Now that we’re a family, we’ve got a good little thing going with a family advent calendar that helps us prepare for the holiday and get in the Christmas spirit. Every day the boys open a box and pull out a slip of paper with an activity for the day. Slowly but surely, a picture reveals itself as they replace the box backwards. Some activities are totally related to Christmas, like decorating the Christmas tree, reading Christmas stories by the fireplace, visiting Santa, and watching a Christmas movie. Others are just activities to help us feel like it’s winter, like making paper snowflakes to hang in the windows, enjoying hot chocolate with all the fixings (marshmallows and candy canes), and making s’mores by the fireplace. And then there are the activities that are just special family times, such as having breakfast for dinner, having a picnic dinner in the family room (after the tree is decorated), and having a family game night with special treats (this year with chocolates and “seigmenn med nisseluer” (jelly men with Santa hats) thanks to my aunt!). Continue reading

Norwegian Church’s Christmas Bazaar (2012)

Thanksgiving hadn’t even passed yet, and we attended our first Christmas event. Every year the weekend before Thanksgiving, The Norwegian Church in San Pedro hosts their annual Christmas Bazaar. It’s an opportunity to not only support the church by buying handmade goods and Scandinavian products, but also to remind Sonny and Doobie of some of the unique qualities of their heritage. Christmas is a special time in Norway and the church certainly recreates some of that.

The kids were a bit reluctant to go. It is a 30-minute drive away on the freeway (assuming no traffic) and they were happily and lazily enjoying their first days of Thanksgiving vacation at home. The promise of Solo and waffles did help get them motivated to go, however. I also told them they could help pick out something special to bring back home.

The bazaar is nothing super big and fancy, but it is very cozy and joyful. We were warmly welcomed with hot gløgg and gingerbread cookies in the entryway which was decorated with a Christmas tree. Just beyond that, we could see the Christmas lights on the booths and hear Christmas music playing. Right away the Christmas spirit came over us. Continue reading