Traditions over any holiday are important in all families. It does not matter how small or how big the tradition or traditions. I am a firm believer that it makes a family closer when you have traditions. An interesting fact I found out later in life was that some traditions that my grandparents did with their children and some they did with their grandchildren. One tradition that my grandfather did with us as children is he taught us about Nisse. You see the story behind Nisse begins in Norway for us. But, I understand that Nisse is also in all Scandinavian countries. If you have never heard of Nisse I can give you a crash course on them.
You see many people still keep the tradition of Nisse around. Nisse are gnomes that live in Norway and help humans often. They traditionally wear red knitted hats and knickers with sweaters. They have grey or white beards. Nisse live in the barns and in homes. The humans believed that the Nisse protected them. Norwegians in the old days believed in stories about the “netherworld” figures. The Nisse were powerful. They seemed to like humans, if they were treated with the respect they felt they deserved.
As the stories go Nisse would feed their favorite animals in the barn. The Nisse expected being served a large wooden bowl filled with sour cream porridge, with a big “eye of butter” in the middle, on Christmas Eve. Today, he prefers rice porridge. When the people on the farm went to find the bowls the next morning, the dishes would be empty and clean. That was proof enough that the Nisse really existed!
Well, in my family we kept this story alive. My grandfather told us that there is a house Nisse also. He told us that Nisse is always watching us and reporting to Santa all year on our behavior. We loved hearing that story so much. Grandfather also told us that during the year if we were good Nisse would give us candy out of the wall of our house. That blew our minds and we could not wait until Nisse gave us candy out of the wall. My grandfather has a special place in the house where we would knock on the wall. We would all line up under his hand that was knocking on the wall trying to hear if Nisse was really there and would there really be candy coming out of the wall! Grandfather had a technique that fooled us for a very long time. With much anticipation we listened as hard as we could to hear Nisse climbing around in the walls of the house. We were so focused on listening for the sounds inside the wall we were not watching what grandfather was doing. We really believed in Nisse and the fact that grandfather could get him to give us candy. He also told us that if we were bad we would get small pieces of coal. We continued to beg for Nisse long after we stopped believing is was Nisse giving us the candy. Of course grandfather and then my father enjoyed this tradition as much as we did.
In our family this tradition has been handed down from my grandfather to my father. Now my children and my grandchildren have experienced this fun tradition. It has always been one of our favorite traditions. I enjoy sharing it with everyone because it is so unusual. Much like the Christmas pickle that is hidden in the tree.