Kathrine Myrah, a Norwegian emigrant, of Spring Grove helps put the finishing touches on the tree at a previous Jultrefest - Norwegian Christmas celebration.
Kathrine Myrah, a Norwegian emigrant, of Spring Grove helps put the finishing touches on the tree at a previous Jultrefest - Norwegian Christmas celebration.
The Giants of the Earth Heritage Center in Spring Grove will celebrate a traditional Norwegian Christmas event - Juletrefest - on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Juletrefest translates to "Christmas Tree Fest." This annual event is still a tradition in Norway, where people gather together and sing carols around a Christmas tree.

"On the first Sunday of Advent, everyone in the town would meet in a central location where a large Christmas tree would be displayed. The tree would be lit and everyone would gather and sing Christmas carols; it was a big event," explained Kathrine Myrah, who was born and raised in Norway, but now resides in rural Spring Grove.

"I remember going to Juletrefest as a child. Often it took place in a gym; there would be a large tree fully decorated and the gym would be plum full of people. We would carol around the tree making one or two circles of people each walking in different directions.

"The Julenisse (the Norwegian version of Santa Claus) always came, too, bringing small gifts of an orange or tangerine and a little candy."

The Heritage Center's celebration will also include traditional Norwegian paper crafts, wheat weaving and ornament making.

After the crafts, everyone will gather around the tree in one or two circles and sing Christmas carols. The celebration will only be complete when the Julenisse has made a visit to the celebration.

The story goes that the Julenisse lives in the barn, so some rommegrot or rice pudding is left to feed him.

"The Julenisse is a little different than St. Nick," explained Myrah. "His clothing is not as bright and showy. We would always leave him a bowl of warm rice pudding that he was always sure to eat."

He also liked it when people took care of the animals, so to make him (and the animals) happy, a sheaf of wheat was put up on a high stick in the yard to feed the birds.

Refreshments including Norwegian treats, rommegrot and hot cider will be available for those attending Juletrefest.

The celebration is for families and people of all ages. Fest-goers will have the opportunity to give a free-will donation.