Christmas in the Air

An article from “FLIGHT” magazine, January 25, 1934

The Christmas Lunch Served on
Imperial Airways’ Flight for Athens
December 25, 1933

Imperial Airways Christmas lunch 1933
Illustration from the article

Most people on Christmas Day, whether they be in their own homes, travelling, or in whatever state it has pleased Providence to call them, endeavour to celebrate that anniversary by means of something extra special in the way of food and drink.

Imperial Airways Christmas lunch 1933_02
Food being prepared for Imperial Airways and stewards
waiting to pick up whatever is prepared for their next flight.

Imperial Airways always look after their passengers better, perhaps, than any other transport company in the world, and an amusing and effective example of this care is given by the Christmas lunch so carefully arranged for the passengers in Scipio, the fourengined Short flying boat which was to leave Brindisi on the morning of December 25, 1933, for Athens.

The programme did not go quite to schedule owing to delays of the train service which Imperial Airways passengers still unfortunately have to make use of between Pans and Brindisi. The machine actually left Brindisi at 8.15 a.m. on December 26, but the passengers, after consultation, were unanimous in their desire to have the Christmas luncheon which, but for the delay, they would have had on the previous day.

Imperial Airways Christmas lunch 1933_03
A meal being served on Scipio

The staff of the Scipio, in command of Capt. F. J. Bailey, had decorated the cabin very carefully with holly, mistletoe and paper streamers, and a Christmas tree had been rigged up. This was suitably decorated and hung with gifts for each of the 14 passengers, in the shape of Imperial Airways diaries with the passengers names stamped thereon. The tree was a fully illuminated one with coloured lamps lit from the ship’s electrical system.

Imperial Airways Christmas lunch 1933_04
Drinks being served onboard

The lunch, which had been supplied by Fortnum &  Mason, Ltd., was a great success. The turkey was served  cold, but the soup, sausages, potatoes and pudding  were all hot. Just how this was done better remain a secret of Imperial Airways, as a cursory glance at the facilities the steward has in his pantry does not appear to offer any solution. The fact remains, however, that when they do give their passengers anything hot it is really hot.

Imperial Airways Christmas lunch 1933_06
A steward in the pantry on Scipio

The luncheon was served directly after the Scipio had taken off from Corfu, where a landing had been made for fuel. Capt. Bailey, who, as do all Imperial Airways “skippers,” makes a personal matter of the comfort of his passengers, went back into the cabin on several occasions, and after cutting a cake, which had also been provided, presented the diaries from the tree.

Imperial Airways Christmas lunch 1933_08
A diagrammatic drawing of Imperial Airways’ Scipio.

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Christmas in Norway

Jul or jol ([jʉːɽ]) is the term used for the Christmas holiday season in Scandinavia and parts of Scotland. Originally, “jul” was the name of a month in the old Germanic calendar. The concept of “jul” was a period of time rather than a specific event prevailing in Scandinavia. In modern times, “Jul” is a general time stretching from mid-November to mid-January, with Christmas and the week up to New Year as the highlight. The modern English yule and yuletide derive from this term.

The term “Jul” is common throughout Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, Denmark, Scotland and the Faroe Islands.

juletre

Whereas the start of “jul” proper is announced by the chiming of church bells throughout the country in the afternoon of 24 December, it is more accurate to describe the season as an eight-week event. It consists of five phases: Advent, Julaften, Romjul, Nyttår, and The End of Christmas, very often with Epiphany, the thirteenth day of Christmas, as the final day of the season. From the original beginning on Christmas Day, the custom of Julebord has spread to the entire season and beyond, often beginning well in advance of December.

The modern day celebration is largely based on the Church year and has retained several pre-Reformation and pre-Christian elements.

kirke

The central event in Scandinavia is Christmas Eve (julaften), when the main Christmas meal is served and gifts are exchanged. This might be due to the old Germanic custom of counting time in nights, not days (e.g. “forthnight”), as it holds for other holidays like Midsummer Eve (Jonsok, lit. “Wake of St. John”) and St. Olavs Mass (Olsok, lit. “Wake of St. Olav”), with the main celebration on the eve of the official Church day.

Norse Roots

“Jul” or “Jol” are cognates of Norse “Jòlnir” or “Ýlir”, which are alternate names of Odin, although the root itself is debated. Jul was celebrated during the second moon (from new moon to new moon) of the winter half of the year – roughly from the new moon of November to the new moon of December. At this time, the animals for slaughter were the fattest, flour had been processed, all the work of autumn was completed, and it was time to celebrate.

The time of celebration has varied. According to written sources such as the legislation of Gulaþing, it was mandatory for farmers to have a beer drinking party with at least three farmers attending. If a farmer was so far away from his neighbours that this was difficult, he still had to brew as much beer as if he had been taking part of such a party. The beer should be ready by November 1.

Yule

The tradition of Yule Ale and “drinking Jul” is symbolized by a drinking horn on December 25 on the Runic calendar, with an upside-down drinking horn depicted on January 13, symbolizing that the ale should be finished by then.

By the wording of the legislation, there are two celebrations where beer drinking was mandatory. The first was a form of thanksgiving (where at least three farmers attended), while the second was a smaller party for the family.

The old tradition of brewing Yule ale and drinking in honor of the Æsir, friends and kinfolk also remained in the time following the Christianization, with the law demanding people to brew enough as well as strong enough, but people were now to drink in honor of Christ and the virgin Mary instead.

The figure of the mischievous but gift-bearing Norse nisse, a mythological creature associated with the Winter solstice in Scandinavian folklore, is a white-bearded, red-wearing ancestral spirit also known as Julenissen (Jul spirit), which has been integrated with the figure of Sinterklaas to comprise the modern-day figure of Santa Claus. Like the cookies traditionally left for “Santa Claus” today, it was customary to leave a bowl of rice porridge with butter for the Jul spirit, in gratitude.[6] The food represented a sacramental meal. Sacramental meals were formally called a blót—in this particular instance, yuleblót or winterblót.

Food

Culinary traditions vary regionally. In Northern and Western Norway, pinnekjøtt (ribs of mutton which are steamed, salted and dried, and some places also smoked) is a common dish, whereas Lutefisk and cod are popular in Southern Norway. In Eastern Norway, pork rib roast is common, usually served with medisterkaker and medisterpølser (dumplings and sausages made of minced pork meat). Turkey has recently made its way into the variety of cuisines enjoyed during Jul.

mat

Other traditional foods are eaten at Første Juledags Frokost, a Christmas Day luncheon where the household serves all available delicacies in a grand buffet. Families might serve several kinds of meat such as ham, fenalaar (ham of lamb), cooked cured leg of lamb, pickled pigs’ trotters, head cheese, mutton roll, pork roll, or ox tongue; and several kinds of fish such as smoked salmon, gravlax, rakfisk, and pickled herring. There will also be a range of cheeses and various types of jam. After the meal, tradition prescribes serving seven kinds of julebakst, pastries and coffee breads associated with the holiday. Gingerbread and gingerbread houses are commonly decorated with sugar frosting. In some instances, gingerbread cookies are used for decorating windows as well as the Christmas tree.

On Christmas Eve, many families eat risengrynsgrøt, a type of rice porridge that includes a single almond, scalded of its skin to leave it white. Whomever gets the almond wins a prize, usually a marzipan pig.

Brewing is closely associated with the preparations for jul, and most Norwegian breweries release a traditional Christmas beer, which is darker, stronger and more flavorful than the common Norwegian lagers. Breweries also produce a special soda, known as julebrus. Aquavit is also commonly served as a digestif to accompany the heavy, often fatty meals.

Julebukk

julebukk

“Julebukk,” a Norwegian noun, translates to “Yule Goat”. Today it is commonly known of as a goat figurine made out of straw, created in the beginning of December often used as a Christmas ornament. The Yule Goat’s oldest representation is that of Thorr’s magical Goats, which would lead him through the night sky. The Yule Goat was also a spirit that would protect the house during Yuletide and it was tradition to sacrifice a goat to the Gods and accompanying spirits during the time span between the Winter Solstice “Winter Night” and the New Year called “Romjul”. It was during Romul that a goat or Julebukk was sacrificed, adults then donned guises to personify the Julebukk. Animal masks and skins, commonly goats and horses were donned in an activity called “hoodening”. Participants would parade from house to house, disguising their voices, singing, offering spiritual protection and warnings. The group would receive small amounts of money, food and drink in exchange for the blessing they offered.

Text from Wikipedia

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Glögg

With background info, recipes, and where to find Scandinavia’s beloved holiday drink in the Bay Area.

Article by By Luke Tsai posted in East Bay Express, November 26 2014

Glögg_01

Many Christmases ago, a coworker with a vague Norwegian affiliation first poured me a steaming hot, boozy, sweet, crimson-red concoction so loaded with the fragrance of cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom, it was as though he’d emptied the contents of his winter spice cabinet into the mug.

Glögg_02It was glögg, the traditional mulled wine beverage that’s wildly popular throughout Scandinavia. But here in the Bay Area, glögg — pronounced, roughly, like “glug” — is still largely unknown.

Slowly, though, that’s starting to change, thanks in part to the efforts of a homesick Swede, a beloved Scandinavian specialty shop, and a restaurant looking to expand beyond its typically all-American cocktail selection.

Martin Geijer started his San Francisco-based company, Geijer Glögg, which produces a glögg liqueur, in large part because he was homesick for the stuff. Geijer explained that in his native Sweden, the drink is rooted in the winter season, when everyone is chilled to the bone. “It really is bloody cold,” he said. Alcohol makes you feel warmer — and all the better if it’s served hot and infused with comforting winter spices.

Glögg_05Here in the East Bay, throwing a glögg party can be as simple as picking up a bottle of pre-mixed glögg concentrate, and it should come as no surprise that Berkeley’s Nordic House (2709 San Pablo Ave.) — the Bay Area’s repository for all things Scandinavian — is the place to go. For $7.95, you can snag a bottle of Saturnus, a popular Swedish brand. To make a batch of glögg, pour the concentrate into a pot along with the cheapest bottle of dry red wine you have on hand. (Nordic House owner Pia Klausen favors a Gallo burgundy.) While this heats up, add raisins, almond slivers, and fresh orange peel. Serve the glögg hot, providing spoons for your guests so they can scoop up the raisins, which will plump as they cook, absorbing all of the sweet, boozy goodness.

Glögg_04

As an alternative to the bottled concentrate, Nordic House also carries a house-made glögg spice mix ($3.95) that consists of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, orange peel, and raisins. You add that to two bottles’ worth of wine and let the mixture sit overnight. When you’re ready to heat it up, add sugar and, if you like, some blanched almonds at the very end. This method takes a bit more advance planning, but according to Klausen, it’s worth it — the spices won’t be as intense with the pre-bottled version.

Glögg_07If you’ve had glögg before, it was probably very similar to the kind that Klausen describes. But Martin Geijer’s family recipe, passed down to him by his father, involved infusing the traditional spices into a highly concentrated neutral spirit rather than the more typical red wine base. Starting last year, Geijer has enlisted Alameda’s St. George Spirits to distill a version of his family recipe. The result, Geiger Glögg, retails for $32 a bottle and is, according to Geijer, the world’s first glögg liqueur. (Apparently, in Sweden the tax code makes producing a non-wine-based product unfeasible from an economic standpoint.)

Glögg_06According to Geijer, the benefits of drinking glögg in this liqueur form are twofold: The spices are more prominent when there’s no wine flavor to cover them up, and, at 20 percent ABV, the liqueur packs a bigger punch than a traditional mulled wine.

You can heat it up in a pot or kettle, the same way you would a bottle of sake. But Geijer said the liqueur can be treated like any other spirit — served cold or at room temperature, either neat or mixed into a cocktail such as a Stockholm Sour: one part liqueur, one part bourbon, a half part fresh lemon juice, and a quarter part simple syrup, all mixed together in a cocktail shaker.

For more ambitious glögg-inspired cocktails, you might look to the handful of Bay Area restaurants that carry Geijer Glögg, including Hutch (2022 Telegraph Ave.), a Southern restaurant in Uptown Oakland whose bar program otherwise focuses almost exclusively on American whiskey. But owner David King explained that he was introduced to the pleasures of glögg when he was working as a chef in Copenhagen.

Glögg_08“Once it’s cold as it is in Denmark in December and January, it’s one of the best things you can put in your body,” King said.

King and his bar manager, Joshua Sexton, are hoping customers will warm up to a holiday cocktail that they recently added to the menu — a milk punch, served hot, that King said will be somewhat akin to a Brandy Alexander, which is traditionally made by mixing brandy, milk, crème de cacao, and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. In Hutch’s version, the glögg liqueur adds an extra boost of spice, resulting in something akin to a Christmas-y hot toddy — perfect for the holidays.

Glögg_03You probably want to know how the stuff tastes. I sampled a bottle of Geijer Glögg, and the first thing I noticed was the smell of cinnamon, which was potent enough that it wafted up through the unopened cap. The liqueur had a lovely golden-amber hue and, when I drank it, a honeyed sweetness followed by a spicy kick. The overall effect was not unlike a boozy distillation of Big Red chewing gum.

When you heat the glögg up — in the office microwave, in my case — the intensity doubles or triples. By the second sip, there was a pronounced warmth in my belly. On a frigid (by Bay Area standards) winter evening, I could see myself going back for a second cup, and then a third.

Christmas Greetings

Well, the hot spicy apple drink concluded my 30 days of reposting the Christmas recipe posts from 2014. So with four Norwegian Christmas cards from the beginning of the last century, when the Norwegian flag always was a major part of the imagery due to the fact that the country had just broken free from the union with Sweden, all that remains is to wish:
dec_24_01

I’ll be celebraing Christmas with my family for the next few days but posts for those days are posted in advance and will appear around 7 PM ECT as usual but posting them on Facebook and Pintrest might be a day or two late – Ted  😉

The Christmas Recipes – Part 30

The Christmas Recipes – Part 30

Peppermint Candies / Peppermyntekonfekt

Peppermint Candies / Peppermyntekonfekt

Quick Troll Cream / Rask Trollkrem

Quick Troll Cream / Rask Trollkrem

Hot Spicy Apple Drink / Varm Krydret Epledrikk

Hot Spicy Apple Drink / Varm Krydret Epledrikk

The Christmas Recipes – Part 29

The Christmas Recipes – Part 29

Christmas Shots / Julsnaps

Christmas Shots / Julsnaps

Pepper Cookie Coffee / Peberkagekaffe

Pepper Cookie Coffee / Peberkagekaffe

The Christmas Recipes – Part 28

The Christmas Recipes – Part 28

Danish Cream Truffles / Flødetrøfler

Danish Cream Truffles / Flødetrøfler

Norwegian Silver Cake / Sølvkake

Norwegian Silver Cake / Sølvkake

The Christmas Recipes – Part 27

The Christmas Recipes – Part 27

Candied Clementine Slices / Kandiserte Klementinskiver

Candied Clementine Slices / Kandiserte Klementinskiver

Oat Macaroons / Havremakroner

Oat Macaroons / Havremakroner

The Christmas Recipes – Part 26

The Christmas Recipes – Part 26

Norwegian Pork Rib “Sylte” / Ribbesylte

Norwegian Pork Rib “Sylte” / Ribbesylte

Danish Spice Cake / Dansk Krydderikage

Danish Spice Cake / Dansk Krydderikage

The Christmas Recipes – Part 25

The Christmas Recipes – Part 25

Glöggmartini / Mulled Wine Martini

Glöggmartini / Mulled Wine Martini

Glazier’s Herring / Glassmestersild

Glazier’s Herring / Glassmestersild

The Christmas Recipes – Part 24

The Christmas Recipes – Part 24

Delfia Cake / Delfiakake

Delfia Cake / Delfiakake

Enchanted Pebbles / Forheksede Småstein

Enchanted Pebbles / Forheksede Småstein

Soda & Soft Drink Saturday – Swedish Julmust

julmust_01

Julmust (Swedish jul “Christmas” and must “juice”) is a soft drink that is mainly consumed in Sweden around Christmas. During the rest of the julmust_02year it is usually hard to find in stores, but sometimes it is sold at other times of the year under the name must. At Easter the name is Påskmust (påsk “Easter”). The content is the same regardless of the marketing name, although the length of time it is stored before bottling differs; however, the beverage is more closely associated with Christmas, somewhat less with Easter and traditionally not at all with the summer. 45 million litres of julmust are consumed during December (to be compared with roughly 9 million Swedes), which is around 50% of the total soft drink volume in December and 75% of the total yearly must sales.

julmust_09

Must was created by Harry Roberts and his father Robert Roberts in 1910 as a non-alcoholic alternative to beer. The syrup is still made exclusively by Roberts AB in Örebro. The original recipe is said to be locked up in a safe with only two persons knowing the full recipe.

julmust_03

julmust_07Must is made of carbonated water, sugar, hop extract, malt extract, spices, caramel colouring, citric acid, and preservatives. The hops and malt extracts give the must a somewhat root beer-like taste, but much sweeter. It can be aged provided it is stored in a glass bottle. Some people buy Julmust in December only to store it a year before drinking it.

Julmust vs. Coca-Cola

julmust_05

julmust_11In Sweden, julmust outsells Coca-Cola during the Christmas season; in fact, the consumption of Coca-Cola drops by as much as 50% over Christmas. This was quoted as one of the main reasons that The Coca-Cola Company broke away from their contract with the local brewer Pripps and started Coca-Cola Drycker Sverige AB instead. Coca-Cola Drycker Sverige AB produced its own julmust, albeit very slyly with The Coca-Cola Company’s name occupying only a small space on the label. Their julmust was never advertised until 2004, when Coca-Cola started marketing their julmust under the brand “Bjäre julmust”, but they bought the syrup from Roberts AB. By 2007 the “Bjäre julmust” was only sold at McDonald’s restaurants and it had completely disappeared from Coca-Colas range of products by Christmas 2008.

Outside Sweden

julmust_04

Those outside Sweden who are curious to try julmust might be able to purchase and sample a bottle from a Swedish Food Market at IKEA. However, availability is not guaranteed; one is most likely to find it in stock in early December.

julmust_10Kristall Beverage Inc. in Massachusetts, USA bottles julmust for sale in the USA.

In November 2004 PepsiCo marketed a product somewhat similar in taste to julmust in the United States called Pepsi Holiday Spice. It was on sale during the 2004 and 2006 Christmas seasons.

Cost Plus World Market in the United States sells julmust during the Christmas holiday season.


This post is for my friend Rincewind who works outside his native Sweden and misses Julmust terribly. I hope this gives you some comfort till you head northwards for Christmas – Ted

The Christmas Recipes – Part 13

The Christmas Recipes – Part 13

Aquavit Marinated Cloudberries With Raw Cream / Akevittmarinerte Multer Med Råkrem

Aquavit Marinated Cloudberries With Raw Cream / Akevittmarinerte Multer Med Råkrem

Toffees With Ginger & Nuts / Karameller Med Ingefær & Nøtter

Toffees With Ginger & Nuts / Karameller Med Ingefær & Nøtter

Soda & Soft Drink Saturday – Norwegian “Julebrus”

julebrus_01

Julebrus is a Norwegian soft drink, usually with a festive label on the bottle. It is brewed by most Norwegian breweries, as a Christmas drink for minors, who aren’t eligible (by law) to enjoy the traditional juleøl (English: Christmas Ale). Although the soft drink is supposed to be for julebrus_03sale through December only, it is often found in stores as early as late October, along with the various sorts of Christmas candy.

Drinking Julebrus outside December is frowned upon by some.

The popularity of the drink varies from area to area, and in some places it is very popular with both children and adults. Many Julebrus drinkers have their favourite version from their favourite breweries.

Julebrus might have a sparkly red color, inspired by strawberry and raspberry, or a pale-brown color, similar to beer, depending on brewery and brand.

julebrus_02

Several news papers and television programs holds Julebrus tasting tests before Christmas to check which of the season’s julebrus taste the best.

The Christmas Recipes – Part 8

The Christmas Recipes – Part 8

3 Variations On Mustard / Sennep i 3 Utgaver
3 Variations On Mustard / Sennep i 3 Utgaver

Spicy Cranberry Jam / Krydret Tyttebærsyltetøy
Spicy Cranberry Jam / Krydret Tyttebærsyltetøy