Nordic Christmastime tradition celebrated at RC Community Center
Those who walked into the Rush City Community Center late morning Thursday were greeted by accordion music, the sight of a festively decorated Christmas tree and the sounds of people laughing as they worked on crafts.
The center was the site of a Julgransplundring — prounouced yule-grahns-PLOON-dring — a Nordic Christmastime tradition.
The event was made possible via a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council. We R Able Coordinator Valorie Arrowsmith organized the event and shared her knowledge of the tradition with the dozens of people in attendance.
She explained the celebration coincides with Tjugondag Knut, the official end of the Christmas season in Nordic countries like Sweden and Finland.
Arrowsmith said the Christmas season in those countries starts on Little Christmas Eve, Dec. 23.
On that day, Christmas trees are adorned with Julgrans Karamell, handmade decorations that are filled with tubes of candy.
To be economical, the guests at the Community Center Julgransplundring filled the Julgrans Karamell with rolls of Smarties candy.
They then put their decorations on the tree, and Arrowsmith had them dance around the tree and sing traditional Nordic songs.
After the singing commenced, Arrowsmith had the visitors take their decorations off the tree in preparation for the last part of the tradition: the disposal of the tree.
Unlike in America where trees are simply put out on the curb for garbage workers to collect, those who celebrate Julgransplundring in Nordic Countries get rid of their trees with flair.
“In the Nordic countries, people actually have a day (Jan. 13) when they’re throwing them out the window — it doesn’t matter if you’re in an apartment building on the second or third floor,” Arrowsmith said.“You throw them out and people know this is going to happen, so you don’t walk under a window.”
The windows at the Community Center were not easy to open, so Arrowsmith modified the tradition and had guests toss the tree out the front door into the snow.
She noted the tree is thrown out of houses in the Nordic countries as a decisive way to signify the end of the holiday season.
“It has to be a strong gesture to say, ‘It’s over. Get back to work now, let’s go,”’ she said.