“My dad’s side of the family is Norwegian; we have a big family reunion for Christmas. We have a dessert tradition where you hide a nut in one of the desserts and then pass out a bunch of little portions of the dessert and if you have the nut, you win a prize. There is a kid prize and an adult prize. The prize differs – nowadays it’s money or a gift card but it used to be a toy for the kids and a bottle of wine or something for the adults.”
EK is a 19-year-old American student at USC. She described a family tradition that occurred during Christmas celebrations. She believes the family tradition of hiding a nut in the dessert comes from her Norwegian roots. She was raised in Northern California.
This is a tradition I remember hearing of at one point in my life, but I have never done it myself. Traditions like this are extra special because they connect you to your family’s past – in this case, Norway. It can be touching to do a tradition like this and think of all the ancestors who came before you who did something similar. Interestingly enough, when I tried to look this tradition up, it seemed that it exists in both Norway (“Norwegian Christmas Traditions”, n.d.) and Sweden (Duxbury, n.d.). It is obvious that traditions like these have variation across nearby cultures and they have likely existed predating some of the countries themselves. Also interesting is that the words for the pudding the nut is found in are quite similar – “risengrynsgrøt” in Norway and “Risgrynsgröt” in Sweden. While my informant didn’t specify what kind of nut, it seems it is generally an almond. And in both cases, it seems common to do the desert tradition around Christmas, with a reward for the winner. My informant’s family’s prize isn’t the same as either the Norwegian prize (Marzipan Pig) or the Swedish one (some sort of task). Her family prize is different each year and there is a prize for kids and adults separately, which means there are two hidden nuts and two winners. Thus, we can see the hallmark multiplicity and variation in this holiday tradition. This tradition is likely widespread in the Scandinavian countries and was brought here when ancestors migrated to the United States.
Duxbury, John. “Rice Pudding or Porridge (Risgrynsgröt).” SwedishFood.com, Swedish Food, www.swedishfood.com/swedish-food-recipes-desserts/389-rice-pudding.
“Norwegian Christmas Traditions.” Visitoslo.com, Oslo Vistor Centre, www.visitoslo.com/en/articles/christmas-traditions/.