Tag Archives: Scandinavian folklore

Almond and Luck


The interviewee is one of my housemates and we often engage in conversation about his Danish heritage. This folklore is a food ritual that he practices as part of a family tradition.



The following is transcribed from the story told by the interviewee.

“Every Christmas eve we would eat pickled herring and rice pudding. The tradition is that we would have a bowl of rice pudding and at the bottom of one of the bowls there would be an almond. And whoever would get the almond would have good luck the next year. And in order to celebrate this good luck, the person who got the almond would get a marzipan pig. Sometimes if we got too lazy to go to the store to buy the pig, we would just make a different animal out of marzipan. Last year we made a penguin out of marzipan and I remember once we made a spider. It’s just a fun thing that we would do every Christmas eve.”



This is a Danish tradition that serves to celebrate a festival. The ritual happens near the end of the dinner and is meant to bookend the festival by giving a person luck for the coming year. For the interviewee, this custom is very much about having a shared experience with the family, and one that is fun and wholesome. The tradition has clearly developed over the year, the family not just using a marzipan pig but allowing the children in the family to create new and interesting animals such as the spider or penguin. But ultimately, the spirit of the custom remains the same. On a cultural level, this custom helps enforce the end of a year and celebrate new beginnings.

Trolls in Scandinavian Folklore

Background information:

My dad, Anders, has been working in the realm of business since he was in his early twenties. He started working in Sweden at a tech company and then moved on to work at Hewlett-Packard when we moved to Silicon Valley in Palo Alto. Aside from his very serious and demanding job, he absolutely loves trolls and what they represent in Scandinavian culture. I grew up having numerous trolls around the house, as he loved to decorate the house with tiny statues and décor.


Main piece:

When discussing my dad’s love for trolls, I asked him where he developed this high regard for trolls. He said that his grandmother, who lived in a country-town in Småland, Sweden, always told him that they were safe and doing well in life because the trolls around them always had their eyes open for danger and would therefore protect them from bad things that could happen. He added onto this, saying that he had a fantastic fantasy and creative mind growing up, and felt that these trolls that his grandmother had talked to him about were like his imaginary friends and were friendly spirits who just wanted everything to go well in the world and protect those living on their land. Therefore, my dad has really enjoyed collecting little statues of trolls throughout his life because he feels that he wants to pay a tribute to everything that the trolls do to make our daily lives better and also has these trolls around the house to protect our house from danger and to boost the positive energy in the house.


Personal thoughts:

Because I have grown up with my dad, I learned from a young age that trolls were very friendly creatures and were there to simply spread positivity and help. Thus, I never understood why some people regarded trolls as being evil or scary, but rather saw trolls as doing what they could to make the world a better place and felt relieved to have the support of the trolls when life took wrong turns. I thought it was funny how the movie, Frozen, included trolls because the film is set to be in Scandinavia and also showed the trolls to be helpful beings who were very knowledgeable about nature and cures, just as I have imagined them as well. I was therefore glad that a movie that has been shown all around the world was able to show trolls as being positive influences in the world instead of showing them as being evil or violent, as some often regard them.


For a version of how trolls are portrayed in the movie, Frozen, see the information about trolls listed on the Disney Wikia page:


“Trolls (Frozen).” Disney Wiki, disney.wikia.com/wiki/Trolls_(Frozen).