A Christmas in Scandinavia (and we were back by suppertime)

So what happens when a Norwegian/Swedish girl, Irish/German lassie and English Canadian lady spend the day together?

Lovely things!

Especially for our field trip to the American Swedish Institute, which was all dolled up for Christmas.

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The majestic front staircase.
The majestic front staircase.

The Institute is the historic Turnblad Mansion, a castle-like mansion on Park Avenue in Minneapolis. Swan and Christina moved here from Sweden, built the impressive home, and started living here in 1908.

great hall

Just 21 years later, they donated it to become the Museum. It’s French Chateauesque style, and includes 11 tile stoves (I learned a Swedish word for stoves: kakelugnar). No two are alike. Since central heating had been installed in the mansion, they were probably purchased mainly for decorative purposes.

One of the stoves. We agreed we all prefer a nice wood, heavy stone look, but these were nice.
One of the stoves. We agreed we all prefer a nice wood, heavy stone look, but these were nice.

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Each room detailed the Christmas traditions of a specific Scandinavian country, with an emphasis on traditions, especially Christmas baking and their Santa Claus-esque Tomte.

Little Tomte's were hidden throughout the mansion for preschoolers to find, sweet.
Little Tomte’s were hidden throughout the mansion for preschoolers to find, sweet.
A holiday baking recipe with 13 eggs! I should have been Norwegian.
A holiday baking recipe with 13 eggs! I should have been Norwegian.
Oleo?! You betcha.
Oleo?! You betcha.
We got to see the entire kitchen, too!
We got to see the entire kitchen, too!

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We agreed the best room was the restored solarium. With full windows all complemented by window seats, we sat a spell and had a marvelous chat (well, we chattered the entire tour, but this was a really magical spot with two amazing ladies and it makes me smile just remembering it. The snow was falling softly outside as we talked of Mrs Turnblad, a Minnesota girl like us, sitting right there not so very many years ago, with her own pre-Christmas joyful anticipation.)

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I loved the light fixtures most of all.

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The cabinets and woodworking are all original, including the intricate hand-worked designs.

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A few other glimpses of this amazing place are below… If you can spare an hour, stop by the Institute. Whether it’s Christmas or another season, your time here will leave you smiling at our Scandinavian ancestors, guaranteed. God Jul!

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Tulips at Christmas. Now that's something I can embrace. Melting pot, indeed!
Tulips at Christmas. Now that’s something I can embrace. Melting pot, indeed!
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2 thoughts on “A Christmas in Scandinavia (and we were back by suppertime)

  1. I like those little Tomtes! Isn’t it great to learn of traditions of groups of people anywhere in the world? Much more satisfying to learn and appreciate rather than to observe and condemn! And Norwegians are everywhere in the world! Dad

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