Tag Archives: Traditions

La Tamalera

La Tamalera means the woman that makes Tamales. You may wonder what a Tamal is, but no reason to get impatient. I’ll get to that all throughout this post.

Tamales are one of the most time-honored Christmas traditions in Costa Rica. Like the rest of Latin America, tamales are a principal part of Christmas dinner. In Costa Rica, tamales are made from corn flour and are filled with many different ingredients, such as potato puree, rice, vegetables, garlic and onions, and shredded pork or chicken or beef, all wrapped in banana leaves and tied with string into squares, and boiled.

Christmas traditions in Costa Rica

After last nights party I slept in. Something that resulted in it being very warm already (26C) when I woke up. So… I decided to sleep some more.

When I woke up again it was already 1pm and Roshy y Mami had started making Tamales.

Roshy and I were put into the time lengthy job of cleaning the banana leaves so they were all clean of dust and other stuff, preparing them for using.


Roxana washing Banana leaves


Me washing Banana leaves

mami started cookinge the meat and the vegetables for the filling and the broth.


Meat cooking and preparing for Tamales

Then we prepared the fillings.
We used Carrots, Prunes, Olives, Red bell peppers, Green peas, raisins and potatoes cut in stripes.
Not to forget:  For each tamal a peace of meat.


Carrots prepared to be used as filling for Tamales


Mami preparing La masa (the dough)


How to fill a Tamal


Mami filling tamales

Once the Tamales are filled, bundle them up two and two and put in a huge casserole for cooking. They now need 1-2 hours of cooking.


Finished Tamales – Wrapped and ready for cooking


Tamales cooking over open fire outside in the yard

Of course, this was a lot of work and a lot of effort inside today, however it was an excellent way to spend the day with my family and learn one of the most popular traditions for christmas.

And.. For dinner. Tamales.. Yummy :D


Our Christmas Portal

For the full recipe to make Tamales go to my Recipe blog


A Traditional Christmas Eve in Norway

For most Norwegians the traditional “Julaften” (Christmas Eve being the name of the whole day) will consist of having a lovely breakfast with you family. Everyone gathered around the table and lots of lovely food to choose from. It will be something like a smorgasbord with lots of choices and several different sorts of freshly baked bread, several choices of cheese, egg, ham, lots of different sorts of pickled herring and lots of other stuff.

Each Christmas eve according to the traditions, the main Norwegian TV Channel will send a series of TV programmes (same procedure as last year) that the kids will watch (and me – being a big kid).

They will start with Three Wishes for Cinderella (Tři oříšky pro Popelku in Czheck and “Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel” in German) which is a Czechoslovak-German fairy-tale film from 1973.

The film stars Libuse Safrankova as the title character, a young woman who is put upon by her stepmother and stepsisters. The film employs a twist, though, when a handsome prince comes knocking. Cinderella does not simply fall into the prince’s arms. In this version, he must actively pursue the young woman who is a skilled sharpshooter prone to wearing hunting outfits. Cinderella also has three wishes at her disposal, gained from three magic nuts.

Read my full review of this film here

Then they will show Reisen til Julestjernen, a Norwegian film based on the theatre Play by Sverre Brandt from 1924. The play holds the Norwegian National Theatres (NNT) record as the play that has been shown most times throughout the history of NNT. In January 1962 the play was shown the 500th time.

The play was filmed in 1976 by Ola Solum with Hanne Krogh playing the role of «Sonja».

Read my full review of this film here

Next up is the Disney Christmas Special From All of us to all of you. The show is hosted by Jiminy Cricket along with Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbell, the special combines newly-produced animation with clips from vintage animated Disney shorts and feature films, presented to the viewer as “Christmas cards” from the various characters starring in each one.

After these 3 Christmas movies it is time to help out making dinner, shower and get dressed for the big night. We helped Daddy getting ready and got ourselves and the two smaller sisters getting ready. Then the table was set and auntie Signe came over to celebrate Christmas with us.

3 sisters ready for Christmas eve to start; Linda, Ellen and Ingrid.

Aunt Signe

At 5:30 pm Dinner was served.

According to traditions there are different dishes that are common as a Christmas Eve dinner according to where you live, which area your family is from and such things. The traditions are different whether you grew up by the sea or if you grew up inland.

  • Atlantic Halibut is very common Christmas dinner.
  • Many also have Atlantic Cod for Christmas dinner.
    For both these dishes Potatoes, carrots, sauce and sometimes bacon is served as side dishes.
  • Or the dish Lutefisk (which THANKFULLY was never common in my family) which is has reached far beyond the Norwegian borders.
    Bacon, green peas, green pea stew, potatoes, lefse, gravy, mashed rutabaga, white sauce, melted or clarified butter, syrup, geitost (goat cheese), or “old” cheese (gammelost) are common side dishes.
  • Juleribbe is one of the most popular Christmas dishes. It is believed that as many as 65% of the Norwegians serve Juleribbe as their Christmas dinner. Juleribbe is pork rib, but it is not prepared the same way as in the US or in Asian cuisine.
    Common side dishes for this dish are meatballs, sausage, sourkraut, redkraut, potatoes, sauce and lots of other delicious goodies.
  • Pinnekjøtt is another dish very often served on Christmas eve (This dish is increasing in popularity).
    Puréed rutabaga and potatoes are the most common side dishes.

Many families have origins from several different parts of the country and to follow all the traditions they have solved this serving all the different dishes on each their day during Christmas.

We had Deer steak this year and Daddy had cooked it to perfection. It was so soft and tender that the meat almost melted on our toungues.

After dinner we had Ice Cream for dessert before we had a very long gift exchange session. We had no visit from Santa (because as my 4 year old sister said it; Santa has already been here and left the gifts under the tree), but still there was more than enough gifts for everyone!

After the gift exchange it was time for coffee and cakes and games. Linda had gotten a game as a gift and all of us played and enjoyed the company.

Daddy, Ingrid, Ellen, Linda, Me, Aunt Signe.

Reisen til Julestjernen 1976 version

The Journey to the Christmas Star is a movie sent every year on Christmas eve on Norwegian television. Practically its not “real” Christmas anymore without it.

I just love this film !! I can watch it again and again and not get tired of it !

Reisen til Julestjernen is a lovely Norwegian family film, based on the theatre play by Sverre Brandt from 1924. The play holds the Norwegian National Theatres (NNT) record as the play that has been shown most times throughout the history of NNT. In January 1962 the play was shown the 500th time.

The play was filmed in 1976 by Ola Solum with Hanne Krogh playing the role of «Sonja».

The story begins in a tiny Kingdom somewhere in Adventureland. In a castle with high towers, spears and dungeons in a small medieval village surrounded by thick walls, lives a small Royal family (father, mother and daughter) with their court.

On Christmas eve, Princess Gulltopp, is presented to the marvelous Christmas tree of the Royals and she becomes greatly disappointed by the fake star in the top of the tree that is so greatly outshone by the real Christmas star, shining ever so brightly on the sky. She also learns that night, by her dads cousin – the Count, that if she only desire it enough, she will find the real star if she goes out to search for it in the forest.

The King and Queen follows the Princess to bed that night and she is given a golden heart as her Christmas gift as a token of love and affection from her parents. After bedtime Princess Gulltopp sneaks out of bed and sets off in search of the star all by herself.

The next morning a traveling theatre group finds a frozen child in the forest and they decide to bring her with them. She has lost her memory due to the freezing search for the star the past night. They call her Sonja and raise her as their own.

When the King and Queen learns that the princess has disappeared, they are shattered in grief. The Queen runs after her into the forest to search for her. The King curse the Christmas star, which he holds responsible for his misfortune, however the Kings curse causes the Christmas star to cease burning completely and with it the Queen also disappears.

Grief shatters the country and the King seeks advice from all the wisest men he can ever find, but none of them are able to find the star for him. Some even try to devote their lives to create a new star to help the King get his family back.

Many years later the traveling theatre group again visits the castle. It is again Christmas eve and in this group travels Sonja, a beautiful young woman. When Sonja learns of the Kings grief she offers to find the star for the King so that he can be reunited with his Queen and daughter. The King is lit by hope, because wise men has predicted that if the star shines again, the princess and the Queen will return.

Sonja sets off into the forest, but the Count follows her. He is not willing to allow her to find the star for the simple reasons that the King has now elected him to be the heir to the throne instead of the missing Princess Gulltopp. On her walk through the forest, Sonja is offered to purchase bird food from an old witch in the forest on her way. She has no money and the only thing she can offer as a payment is her golden heart necklace. When the old which sees the necklace she warns Sonja that she is being followed by the Count and she has to run away and hide.

Sonja runs away and the old lady awaits the Count telling him that she has seen Sonja, and leads him in the wrong direction, buying Sonja just a little bit of time. However the count quickly discovers the lie and he goes back and sets off after Sonja. Almost getting to her, he is attacked by a huge amount of elves in the forest. Neither him nor Sonja knows where they appear from, but they protect Sonja chasing the Count away.

The elves lead her back to Santa’s place and Santa learning that Sonja grew up as a lost child without parents, never having received a Christmas gift before is granted a wish to make up for all the lost presents. Sonja’s wish is for the Christmas star to once more shine over the country and her wish is granted.

The Count, who is still searching for Sonja, sees the star being lit and he understands that Sonja must be the long-lost Princess that has come back. When Sonja arrives at the Castle to tell the big news, she is grabbed by armed guards and thrown into the darkest dungeon of the Castle. Later that evening the Count tells the King that HE has found the star and that he can also find Princess Gulltopp, but he is not willing to do so unless he gets to marry her and get half of the Kingdom. Just as they are discussing, the old witch from the forest walks into the throne room, telling the King to not sign the papers marrying off Princess Gulltopp to the Count and giving him half of the kingdom in marriage. She tells the King that it was Sonja and NOT the Count that found the star. The Count immediately accuses her of lies and The King asks the old lady for a proof and the old which shows the King the golden heart she received as payment for the bird food in the forest. At first she is accused by the count for having stolen it, but the old lady tells the King that it was given to her by Sonja as a payment for bird food in the forest. The King immediately recognizes the necklace and says. Hmm. Then Sonja should know where the Princess is? Why dont you ask her yourself says the old lady pointing towards the doors and Sonja enters the room.

The King is so happy to have his beloved daughter back that he throws a 7 day long party to celebrate being reunited with his child.

At the end of the party Sonja remembers the old which that saved her and asks for her. She is hiding in a corner and Sonja runs over to her and kisses her on the cheek to show her gratitude towards her. In that moment the which changes into the Queen and the King has finally been reunited with them both.

The lies of the Count are soon discovered and he is soon thrown into the dungeons himself, loosing every right to the land he so desperately wants and then they all lived happily ever after.

Three Nuts for Cinderella

Each year Christmas eve starts off sending several films that have become a tradition to watch while waiting for the Christmas dinner and the gift exchange.

Three Nuts for Cinderella (Tři oříšky pro Popelku in Czheck and “Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel” in German) is a modern day Cinderella fairytale. It is a Czechoslovak-German cooperation from 1973.
In english this movie is known as “Three wishes for Cinderella”

In this version Cinderella is a young woman who is put upon by her stepmother and step-sister, whom look upon her as a part of their household rather than a step-sister. However our Cinderella competently defends her personality against them. She is warm and smart and she is also an excellent rider and hunter.

Our Cinderella also has the affection and support of the household’s other servants, including a doting coachman who promises the girl that he will bring her “the first thing that hits his nose” when he ventures next into town.

It just so happens that the young Prince (Pavel Trávnicek), out hunting, notices that the coachman has fallen asleep in his coach and deftly aims an arrow at an empty bird’s nest, which drops onto his face as he rides below the tree branch, waking him. Inside the nest is a cluster of three hazelnuts, the gift that subsequently provides Cinderella with the means to make her dreams come true — rather than have the traditional fairy godmother grant them for her.

Cinderella is also out in the forest and she sees the Prince and his 2 friends during their hunt and dressed as a man she plays with them, letting them notice her, but not fully showing herself.  When the arrow that the prince aims to kill the bird he is hunting misses, she kills it for him, leaving him to recognize that the arrow is not his when he finds the bird.

She also throws a snowball at him, steals his horse and ruins his hunt. Then she introduces herself and teaches the Prince and his friends to shoot with bow and arrow.

A Royal ball is arranged for the prince to find a fitting wife and all young women in the country are invited to the ball. Cinderellas mother and step sister leaves to participate, leaving Cinderella behind.

Cinderella has three wishes at her disposal, gained from the three magic nuts given to her by the coachman and she is given a beautiful dress for the ball.

Cinderella and the Prince meets again at the Royal Ball, which necessitates that she dance with the Prince while wearing a veil, because she does not want to make it too easy on the prince to recognize here nor to be loved on account of her beauty, but for the person that she is and he has to accept of her full personality and not only her being a beautiful woman.

While he dances with her, he declares that he has already decided to marry her. But Cinderella stops him and reminds him that he has forgotten the most significant thing: To ask her if she wants to marry him! She leaves him with a riddle about her identity and runs from the palace at midnight.

The Prince, puzzled, picks up her slipper and vows to find her no matter where she is. When he finally does find her and she is waiting for him in a beautiful wedding dress, he does solve the riddle about her identity and it is only then, when he realises that she’s been both the little insolent girl and the remarkable young huntsman, that she can accept him and they can live happily ever after

The Prince must now win her heart by asking her if SHE wants him. She wants to be free to walk towards the prince voluntarily, to let her inner discover by him and to share her freedom with him.

Together they ride off on each their horse into the forest.

More about 3 nuts for cinderella

Lille Julaften and “The 90th birthday – Dinner for One”

Christmas in Norway is THE big Family Holiday. At no other time of the year will there be as many families spending time together as now.

“Lille Julaften” is the day before Christmas in Scandinavia. In Norwegian “Lille” means small, “Jul” is the word for Christmas and “aften” is the word for evening.

Jul comes from the norse word “Jól” or “Jólablót” which is the name for the earlier, heathen celebration of the midwinterday in the Nordics, and now for the Christian holiday and the celebration in memory of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Each year on the Lille Julaften, according to Norwegian christmas traditions, there a few things that just has to happen to get into that christmas spirit.

One of those things is that we make a rice porridge for dinner / evening meal. This porridge is served warm and 1 almond is placed in the porridge. The person that finds the almond in their plate wins a marzipan pig (don’t know where the marzipan pig comes from, but its probably from the tradition of having pork ribs for dinner on Christmas eve). Rich amounts of this porridge is made and the leftovers will be used for dessert on Christmas eve.

Another tradition is that at 9pm the short film; “The 90th birthday – Dinner for one” is shown on television. It is also known as The 90th Birthday, or by its corresponding German title, Der 90. Geburtstag. It is a comedy sketch written by British author Lauri Wylie for the theatre in the 1920s. German television station Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) recorded a performance of the piece in 1963, in its original English language.

The sketch presents the 90th birthday of elderly upper-class Englishwoman Miss Sophie, who hosts a dinner every year for her close friends Mr Pommeroy, Mr Winterbottom, Sir Toby, and Admiral von Schneider to celebrate the occasion. (Note that the plot has nothing to do with New Year’s Eve, as is often incorrectly stated. There is a “Happy new year” toast, but this is purely a reference to Miss Sophie’s anniversary.) The problem is that given Miss Sophie’s considerable age, she has outlived all of her friends, and so her equally aged manservant James makes his way around the table, impersonating each of the guests in turn.

Miss Sophie decides on appropriate drinks to accompany the menu of the evening, consisting of Mulligatawny soup (Miss Sophie orders dry sherry), North Sea haddock (with white wine), chicken (with champagne), and fruit for dessert (with port) served by James, and so he finds himself raising (and emptying) his glass four times per course. That takes its toll, increasingly noticeable in James’ growing difficulty in pouring the drinks, telling wine glasses from vases of flowers, and refraining from bursting into song. Even before the alcohol begins to exert its influence, he has trouble avoiding the head of a tiger skin lying on the floor between the dinner table and the buffet.

The crucial exchange during every course is:

James: The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?
Miss Sophie: The same procedure as every year, James!

After the dinner, Miss Sophie indicates to a very drunk James that she wishes to retire to bed, to which James responds:

James: By the way, the same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?
Miss Sophie (delightedly): The same procedure as every year, James!
James: Well, I’ll do my very best!

Now, For me, there wont be a proper Christmas without these traditions :D Christmas still arrives no matter what, but it will feel like something is missing.

Like the white snow which we haven’t gotten much of this year.
We did have a snowfall, but that snow mostly has melted by now.

However, peace has settled by now and it is time to go to bed. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.
I’m just as exited as my two smaller sisters (4 and 10) ..

Merry Christmas folks and Wishing you all a very happy Holiday season!

Tim Burton’s “Nightmare before Christmas”

Ever since this movie came out I have loved it. Now it has become a huge part of my pre-christmas traditions. Every year before christmas I HAVE to watch it to get into that special holiday spirit.

The inhabitants of the Halloween city have just finished celebration this years Halloween and their King, Jack Skellington, feel empty and hollow. Like life is no longer fullfilling for him.

While the others celebrate that another Halloween celebration has ended in great satisfaction… Jack sets off for a long walk and gets lost. During his time alone and his walk – he discovers a meadows with a circle of trees with decorataive doors and he is fascinated by the glittering globes and the decoration on the christmas tree. He touches the globes and the door opens and Jack falls in.

Jack is stunned by the joys of Christmas and the holiday spirit that posesses Christmas town. He is amazed and brings home lots of samples to Halloween town and performs a huge amount of experiments to try to understand what Christmas is all about. During his experiments he decides that he does not need to understand what it is about, but he does decide that this is what will fill his life with joy again and decides to make Christmas his.

He calls all members of Halloween town to a town meeting to let them in on his plans and as he tries explaining them what Christmas is about and of his plans for them to take over Christmas. They are all in on the idea, except Sally who thinks this is a terrible idea.

For those of you not having watched this movie yet, here is the film trailer:

This film is a musical and this is my ABSOLUTE favourite song from this movie:
Jack Skellington discoveres Christmas Town: “What’s This?”

There are 2 versions of this film and it has a huge fan group.
My favourite is the original 1993 version.

Nightmare before Christmas on the web:
On Wiki
On Rotten Tomatoes
On Tim Burton Collective

Christmas Preparations

I am a sucker for holiday traditions – However, having lived in central America when I was young has influenced my christmas traditions somewhat.

In Norway it’t common to decorate the christmas tree on the 23rd of december. I always decorate it on the first sunday of advent. Today was no different and I was really inspired after the neighborhood celebration and I brought out my Christmas decoration stuff and started decorating my tree.

The good thing about my tree is that it is a living tree, although it doesn’t look like a christmas tree. It sure looks cool. Right?

I had 2 of these trees, but one of them died this summer :(

I love not having a traditional christmas tree. Almost all of my christmas decoration is quite untraditional as well. Like small Santas with swim suits and sea stars. I have a Texan Longhorn and all my red glass decorations are not balls, but small chili fruits in clusters of 5 with green glitter on. I also have brought from Arizona small cacti with christmas decorations on. Disney Christmas figures and snowmen with ponchos and mexican hats :D
I love them :D

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Looking cool, huh?

I also do have some traditional christmas decorations that I have set up around the house :D Some there must be :D

So, it has begun – the race towards christmas eve. One of the most enjoyable periods of the year. My next task is finding all of the christmas presents, wrapping them and meeting up with my friends to exchange them. Baking the traditional sorts of christmas cookies and filling the air with familiar smells..

I love this season :D

I wish you all a fantastic time and enjoy this holiday season and my advent calendar humor while we wait for christmas eve.