Barnesklubb: Learning the Norwegian Lyrics to “Let it Go!”

la den gå

I was excited when Disney announced the release of their new animation, Frozen, in November of last year. It was the first Disney animation to be set in Norway; a stunning big-screen comedy adventure.  It features the fearless optimist Anna as she sets off on an epic journey — teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven — to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

Frozen is inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s classic The Snow Queen, about a young girl who saves her friend from a magic mirror and wicked snow spirit. To adapt the story to the screen, Disney needed a suitable setting to match. After traveling to several Nordic locations, the art direction team settled on Norway as the perfect backdrop for the fictional ice kingdom of Arendelle. The Norwegian influence is reflected not just in the wintery landscape with snow-capped mountain tops and deep fjords but also in characteristic Norwegian elements like the ancient stave churches, the traditional Norwegian folk costume the bunad, and even in the typical Scandinavian hairstyle with braided plaits.

Art director Mike Giaimo explains, “Norway offered a cultural backdrop we’d never explored before and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to blend its dramatic environment, architecture and folk costume aesthetic?’ It feels like a world from a classic Disney film, but it’s completely new.”

My kids and I have been singing the theme song of the film since we first saw it in theaters months ago.  We have enjoyed the film so much (my daughter is not into Disney princesses – so this is saying a lot) that I thought it the perfect opportunity to learn a little Norwegian with our Barnesklubb friends – Norwegian Lyrics to “Let it Go!”

La den gå

Det glitrer hvitt over fjellet i natt,

det er vakkert vintervær.

I riket jeg bor alene,

og som dronning står jeg her.

Og vinden hyler lik som

stormen i mitt bryst.

Holdt det ikke ut, himlen så min dyst.

Slip ingen inn, la ingen se,

slik er plikten, jeg er jo født til det.

Jeg dekket til. Det ingen så,

det vet de nå!

La den gå, La den gå.

Den kraften jeg skjulte før.

La den gå, La den gå.

Jeg har snudd og stengt en dør.

Jeg er lei, alt de tror de har sett.

La det strome nå,

litt frost gjør meg ingenting unasett.

We focused on learning only the first verse in Norwegian but the kids thought it would be fun to learn another verse in Chinese and then sing it in three languages. I would love to see them follow through. 🙂

To accompany this language activity, the kids enjoyed creating snowflakes using Disney snowflake templates as well as their own designs.

Christmas in the North Woods: A Jan Brett Winter Author Study

Jan Brett is one of my favorite children’s authors.  I love not only her amazing illustrations and the intricate and intriguing borders she is so well known for, but I also love her stories.  She is an amazing story teller – both in print and in person.  We had the wonderful opportunity to hear her speak earlier this year while she was on a book tour to promote Mossy (you can read about our experience in my post, Meeting Jan Brett).

Jan Brett is a best-selling American author/illustrator of children’s books. Her books are known for colorful, detailed depictions of a wide variety of animals and human cultures ranging from Scandinavia to Asia. Today, I share with you a number of her books that share the spirit of Christmas in the north woods.

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jan brett author study

I have written a lot about Scandinavian Christmas traditions here at Academia Celestia.  It is during the Christmas season that the culture and traditions of our ancestors have been most obvious. In addition, we enjoy reading a variety of traditional Christmas stories.  This year, we will be incorporating an author study as well.  I’ve compiled here a number of literature connections and activities that you can also use to experience the spirit of Christmas in the North Woods with your children.

Christmas Trolls

  • Explore the prevalence of trolls in Norwegian literature; consider reading tales by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe.
  • Draw your own trolls and make up your own stories describing their mischief.
  • Compare trolls and nisse – How are they the same?  How are they different?

The Night Before Christmas

  • Watch Jan Brett’s All About The Night Before Christmas movie
  • Create handmade ornaments to decorate your tree. Jan shares a few on her website.
  • Put on a short play to act out this delightful story for your family.

Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve?

  • Make a list of the traditional foods you eat on Christmas
  • Learn how to make one new traditional holiday recipe – consider Seven Sorts: Traditional Norwegian Christmas Cookies
  • Teach your children how to prepare a favorite family recipe
  • Write about the traditions in your home. Research the cultural significance of one (or more)

The Three Snow Bears

  • Visit a zoo to observe live polar bears
  • Consider doing a nature journal entry on bears
  • Learn How to Draw a Baby Polar Bear
  • Watch a documentary on polar bears
  • Research the arctic tundra biome. What is the average yearly precipitation here? Is this trend changing?

The Wild Christmas Reindeer

  • Research the arctic tundra biome. What other animals live here? What adaptations do they have to survive this cold climate?
  • Enjoy the story The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert – a delightful Nordic tale of a little girl who wants to help Santa’s elves.  From a red bird to a polar bear to a reindeer, a menagerie of winter animals help Anja make her way to Santa
  • Research the Sami culture of Scandinavia and Russia.  What are their customs and beliefs?

Gingerbread Baby

  • Bake and decorate your own gingerbread cookies or a gingerbread house, if you are ambitious
  • Visit (at least virtually) the world’s largest gingerbread city in Bergen, Norway – Pepperkakebyen

Home for Christmas

  • Write a letter to a someone serving in the military who is away from home during the holidays.
  • Learn How to Draw a Moose

BookBigIdeaWinter

This post is iHomeschool Network’s A Book & Big Idea: Winter & Christmas series.

Our Scandinavian Holiday Traditions

The holiday season is upon us.  A time when family traditions come to life. Customs and beliefs are passed down from one generation to the next and celebrated each year.  In our home, the traditions of Scandinavia are most evident. Today, I share with you our Scandinavian holiday traditions.  Perhaps you will wish to add a few new traditions to your own.

The Advent Calendar is common in Norwegian homes during the holiday season. Typically, these calendars give you a tasty chocolate surprise for each 24 days leading up to Christmas.

In our home, rather than a confection, the doors conceal a little note on which a favorite holiday activity is noted.  To create our customized Advent Calendar, I used simple Advent Action Cards designed by Ali Edwards.  The activity noted on the card can be simple (read a favorite holiday children’s book) or more elaborate (take a drive to enjoy the holiday lights).  This takes a little pre-planning as the notes are coordinated with our calendar in advance.

In Scandinavia, hand-made ornaments are traditional and our family tree is adorned in a similar style with paper flag garlands, straw ornaments, crocheted snowflakes, and woven paper hearts.  The woven heart baskets are a great project for all ages and a great decoration for the tree.

It is quite common in Norway to get your julestrømper – Christmas stockings on Christmas Eve morning.  The stockings are packed with candy and small toys.  Children like to enjoy them while watching the traditional Christmas movies and TV shows played for the holiday season. The entire day is spent with the family getting ready for the Christmas Eve meal and relaxing at home with the family.   

Christmas cookies are a must-have for any Christmas celebration and baking them at home is a great way to bring the family together. Some of the popular cookies in Norway that you can try your hand at are: pepperkaker or gingerbread, krumkaker (waffle cookie curved in a cone shape), sandkake or sand cakes that are simple short cake baked in molds and filled with jelly, and fattigmann (poor man), a recipe that dates backs to over 100 years ago.

For more delicious cookie recipes, check out my series 5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes

Another annual tradition in many Scandinavian homes (at least in the United States) is to make Lefse.  My mother and my grandmother before her would make lefse every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We now continue this tradition on our own as well as with our extended, lodge family. 

Try mixing up your Christmas meal with a different recipe. Different parts of Norway indulge in their own traditional Christmas Eve meal. In Østlandet (Eastern Norway) it is common to have ribs and pork sausages with potatoes. In Vestlandet (Western Norway), pinnkjøtt lamb with rutabagas and potatoes are the dishes of choice. While in Nord Norge (Northern Norway) lutefisk, peas, bacon, and potatoes are prepared.

Try mixing some of these foods into your holiday meal. A few years ago, I came upon an article in Sunset magazine, Christmas in the Rockies, have since began to adapt many of these recipes for our own tastes.

Follow up your Christmas meal with a delicious, traditional dessert! The popular riskrem (rice pudding) is eaten in almost every Norwegian home on Christmas Eve for dessert. The simple yet tasty dessert contains rice, in almost pudding like texture with cream or milk and sugar added. Top it off with raspberry sauce and it is ready to eat. Try it the Norwegian way by hiding an almond in the recipe before dishing out each serving. Whoever uncovers the almond in their rice pudding wins a marzipan pig, another popular holiday treat in Norway.

These are just a few of the Scandinavian traditions we honor in our family. How do you your do Christmas in your homeschool?

Scandinavian Themed Tree for Charity Event

This is the second year in which we have donated a thematically decorated tree for a local charity event. This year, we wanted to commemorate our tour of Scandinavia in 2011 – selecting ornaments that are traditional to the countries of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.  


As handcrafted ornaments are traditional in Scandinavia, we chose to select something to represent each country.  Scherenschnitte snowflakes for Denmark in honor of Hans Christian Andersen. Woven paper heart baskets for Norway.  Pepperkaker, or Swedish ginger cookie ornaments, for Sweden.  
This is one of three handcrafted, wooden stars on the tree to symbolize the flags of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Originally I had wanted to decorate three smaller trees – adorning the top of each with the star – but a large 7′ tree was given to me so I changed plans.
The flags of the three countries are also represented in a garland. Sadly, I had tried to make pepperkaker ornaments but I rolled the dough too thin and they all broke. Fortunately, we also used straw ornaments and crocheted snowflakes so there was enough variety.  

The tree will be auctioned off on Saturday evening.  I am excited to see how much money it brings – I may even have to bid on it myself! 🙂


Fårikål: Norway’s National Dish

As a Norwegian-American (like most, my great-grandparents emigrated to America in the late 1800s), it has been my goal to incorporate more Norwegian traditions into our daily lives. Serving Fårikål is just one of the new traditions we honor.

Fårikål is Norway’s national dish. A casserole of seasonal lamb and cabbage makes this simple dish a favorite autumn treat. Fårikål season is from September to October when the fattened lambs come down from the mountains.  In fact, the last Thursday of September in Norway is National Fårikål day.

lamb shanks and cabbage
 prepped for cooking
Lamb shanks prepped for cooking

Fårikål used to be made from mutton for flavor but over time lamb has become more favored as it is more readily available in our supermarkets.  It is traditionally served with new potatoes, cowberry sauce or lingonberries, and crispy flat bread.

1 ½ kg lamb or mutton stew meat

1 ½ kg white cabbage

4 teaspoons whole peppercorns

2 teaspoons salt

3 cups water

  1. Cut the head of cabbage into wedges.
  2. Add meat and cabbage in layers in a casserole dish. Sprinkle salt and pepper between layers. Pepper grains can possibly put in a special pepper holder. (Some people also like a smooth fårikål. Sprinkle a little flour then, about 1-2 tablespoons per 4 portions, between the layers.)
  3. Pour the water into the dish. Bring to a boil and let fårikål draw on low heat until meat is tender (it separates from the bone), ca. 2 hours.
  4. Serve steaming hot with boiled potatoes
Image of Fårikål ready to serve
Fårikål ready to serve

This humble stew of boiled lamb and cabbage, has been Norway’s official national dish for more than 40 years. The last Thursday of September every year is National Fårikål Day. I have recently learned, however, that Norway has launched a nationwide competition to replace it.

In our home, we eat it with potatoes and crispy flat bread (sometimes even Naan – a traditional Indian style bread that is readily available at our local supermarket).

The recipe I shared here is a traditional recipe.  For a variation of this traditional recipe, visit My Little Norway.

Lime Nail Galls :: Nature Study

Zonnah, a fellow homeschool mom and Outdoor Hour participant, recently posted her gall study and it reminded me of galls we observed in Norway.  While there, I had asked around but no one knew what they were.   Months later, I posted my spotting on Project Noah, spotting #7418081.  A recent clue leads me to believe these galls were formed by Eriophyes tiliae or Lime Nail Gall.  These chemically induced galls form an erect, oblique or curved distortion rising up from the upper surface of the leaves of the common lime tree Tilia x europaea.

Lime Nail Galls

Mites move onto the foliage in the spring, having overwintered in the crevices of the bark and around the buds.  The mites are less than 0.2 mm long.  The chemicals released while sucking the sap from the lower leaf epidermis creates the colorful, hollow, finger-like extensions to form on the upper surface of the leaf.  Before autumn, the mites, which have been actively feeding and growing inside the galls, depart from their little ‘homes’ and seek shelter elsewhere on the lime tree whereby the cycle begins anew.