Celebrate Christmas at Vesterheim – Norwegian-American Museum

Celebrate Christmas at Vesterheim - Norwegian-American Museum Julenisse

A traditional Norwegian ‘Julenisse’ greets the children at Vesterheim. (Photo: The National Norwegian-American Museum and Heritage Center) 

On 5 December, you can Celebrate a traditional Norwegian Christmas at Vesterheim – The National Norwegian-American Museum and Heritage Center located in Decorah, IA. 

This lively day of Scandinavian holiday traditions, crafts, music, movies, treats, and more is sponsored by Duane and Eileen Bruening.

Children receive free admission!


Schedule of events:

10:00 to 4:00 – Museum open

10:00 to 5:00 — Kaffistova open

9:00 to 5:00 — Museum Store open

10:00 to 4:00 — “Norway’s Waffle Queen” in the Bruening Visitor Center

10:00 to 4:00 – Hands-on ornament making in the Main Building

10:00 to 4:00 – Author Kathleen Ernst in the Museum Store

10:00 to 4:00 – Folk-art demonstators around the campus

10:45 — Decorah Chorale concert in the Bethania Church

11:30 — Decorah High School Madrigal Singers concert in the Bethania Church

11:30 — Storytime in the Main Building

11:45 — Touch of Brass in the Main Building

12:00 — Juletrefest (singing around the Christmas tree)

12:15 — Northern Lights concert in the Bethania Church

1:00 — Luren Singers concert in the Bethania Church

1:00 — Storytime in the Main Building

1:30 — Juletrefest (singing around the Christmas tree) in the Main Building

2:30 — Oneota Fim Festival showing of In the Stream and The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix in the Bethania Church


Details of the day’s activities:

– Meet Stine Aasland, “Norway’s Waffle Queen” from Telemark, Norway, who will make and sell waffles and sign her new book We Love Waffles in the Bruening Visitor Center. Stine founded Telemarksrøra in 2008, which today is Norway’s largest waffle company.

– The stop-motion-animation classic family film “The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix” will screen along with the short documentary “In the Stream (Bekken)” at 2:30 p.m. in the Bethania Lutheran Church. Released in 1975, “The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix” is a Christmas staple in Norway, where it has sold more than five million tickets and is often broadcast on television around the holidays. Based on characters created by Norwegian author Kjell Aukrust, the film follows inventor Theodore Rimspoke and his friends Lambert (a hedgehog) and Sonny Duckworth (a magpie) as they build (and eventually race) a gigantic car to battle the villain who stole Rimspoke’s original engine design. The film is hosted by Oneota Film Festival and free-will donations will be accepted at the event.

– Juletrefest, when young and old join hands and sing Christmas songs while they circle around the tree and hear about Christmas in Norway. Come early for storytime!

– Julenisse, the Christmas elf, who might bring treats to visitors.

– Julebukker, costumed folk who roam the museum complex scaring away evil spirits.

– Are you excited about Disney’s film “Frozen”? Search for life-size cutouts of Olaf, Sven, Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff in the museum, try on “Frozen” inspired costumes, and take your picture with your favorite character. Vesterheim will also have a kubbestol, a traditional Norwegian chair, for you to have your picture taken with in front of a Norwegian landscape mural.

– Hands-on ornament making for children includes woven paper heart baskets, design your own sweater or mitten, and a great new make your own nisse activity.

– Enjoy the holiday atmosphere of Vesterheim’s campus with free activities outside the museum. We’ll have pepparkakor cookies and Norwegian chocolate for making Scandinavian-style s’mores to enjoy with hot cider.

– Demonstrations of folk art by figure carver Harley Refsal, wheat weaver Bev Schrandt, rosemaler Ruth Green, spoon carver Fred Livesay, and spinners and weavers from the Oneota Weavers Guild.

– Vesterheim’s Kaffistova (coffee shop) will offer an á la carte menu of traditional tastes including varme pølse, pea soup, sweet soup, flatbread, rømmegrøt, julekake, pepparkakor, rosettes, krumkake, kringle, and sandbakkels. Serving 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Vesterheim’s Bethania Church on North Mill St.

– Kathleen Ernst, whose sixth book in the Chloe Ellefson Mystery Series has just been released, will sign books in the Museum Store from 1 – 5 p.m. Her fourth story in the series was set at Vesterheim.

– Vesterheim’s “Gingerbread Fair” will be on view during the celebration. Stop by to see creative gingerbread creations by area community members. Gingerbread creations have had a long tradition in Scandinavia and Europe and the tradition continues to the present day. If you’d like to display your gingerbread creation, contact the museum by December 3.

– Mini-concerts in Vesterheim’s Bethania Church by several Decorah-area musicians and vocal groups, including the Decorah Chorale, the Decorah High School Madrigals, Northern Lights, and Luren Singers. A Touch of Brass will perform in the museum’s Ship Gallery.


Find an album of pictures from last year’s event here.


Edited by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews

Categories: Culture

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