Photo from American Swedish Institute's Facebook
The season is upon us: Cue the pine needles, craft markets, and misshapen snowman and snowwoman cookies. In the Twin Cities, some of the most tempting holiday festivities are hosted by our local Scandinavian and German cultural centers. You’re nine to 10 times more likely to meet someone with Scandinavian heritage here than in other cities, and about a third of people in the Twin Cities claim a German ancestry. But even if you don’t have a Nordic or German bone in your body, these events boast infectious fun.
At the American Swedish Institute:
Did you know early celebrations of St. Lucia called for eating breakfast nine times in one day? We’re not sure why this tradition was discontinued—but kids will discover the longer-lasting charms of the holiday at the Lucia’s Legend event on Nov. 28, with song, crafts, and handmade Lucia and Starboy hats. Recommended for kids ages Pre-K to 1st grade. Parents required to attend. Turnblad Mansion, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1:30-3 p.m. $15 for members/$20 for non-members.
Leave the gingerbread-house frustration to someone else! At the Family Gingerbread House Celebration on Nov. 29 at Turnblad Mansion, the houses come pre-assembled and all candy accouterments are provided, so all you need to do is act as head contractor. It’s an all-ages event, with up to five people per house. 12 p.m., $35 for members/$45 for non-members. Pre-registration required.
The ASI’s theme for this winter season is Legends and Fairytales. One of our favorite stories is that of the Tomte, who is sort of the grand Poo-bah of bearded fable characters. Get the lowdown on his tale at Kids in the Castle: Tiny Tomtes and Extraordinary Elves on Dec. 18. For children 2-5. Two sessions at 9 and 11 a.m. $5.
At Norway House:
It’s Norway House’s first Christmas! Holiday celebrations at the House kick off Nov. 23 with a Tree Lighting ceremony and the unveiling of Gingerbread Wonderland—an exhibit of gingerbread houses submitted by notable pastry chefs and home bakers. Come for caroling, cookie decorating, hot cocoa, and hot gløgg. 5-7 p.m. Free, but registration required.
At the Danish American Center:
Come celebrate Papegøe Advent Fun on the first day of the Advent (Nov. 29) by nibbling Danish-style donuts (æbleskiver), making candles, and crafting paper decorations. Older children can also try their hands at making æbleskiver, which seems like an important life skill to us. 3-5 p.m. $20/family, $6.50/individual. RSVP by Nov. 22.
At the Germanic American Institute:
Each December, the GAI’s Summit Avenue location recreates an entire European market within its walls. The whole family can peruse the gift and craft vendors and nosh on German food, gingerbread, cider, and cocoa at the Holiday Open Haus. Saturday, Dec. 5 is write-a-letter-to-Santa day, plus kids crafts and the German-cuisine Cook-off, with junior and adult divisions. On Sunday, Dec. 6, St. Nikolaus makes an appearance with a wise ear and treats for all. 12-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m-3 p.m. Sunday. Free admission.