Christmas in Grünerløkka

This Christmas, Mr. Wolf has been whisked away to Oslo, to catch up with an old friend and find out about Norway's favourite holiday tradition.

Mariann Høgevold Midbøe is one of Mr. Wolf’s favourite photographers. She is also a native of Grünerløkka, Oslo, with a passionate wanderlust and a mild case of hoarding. Quirks aside, Mariann was kind enough to share a little about her family Christmas with Wolf, in particular, her favourite tradition: risengrynsgrøt.

Mariann says…
Many Christmas traditions have been abandoned in my family over the years as children have grown older and loved ones have passed away. One tradition that still remains is the gathering of our extended family around noon on the 24th to eat risengrynsgrøt. Risengrynsgrøt is a simple rice pudding, consisting of rice boiled in milk, topped with cinnamon, sugar and a smørøye. A big dish of porridge is prepared, and a peeled almond is hidden inside. The person who finds the white almond in their porridge gets bragging rights for the whole year, as well as a prize, which is traditionally a marzipan pig. I don’t know where this tradition originates, but I do know that it is one of the most important traditions we have in Norway.

Lucky for Mariann, Wolf has done some digging. This tradition comes from a time when farmers lived from year to year and relied on healthy crop yields to survive. Many farmers took to leaving a bowl of risengrynsgrøt outside the barn door on Christmas Eve as a reward for the barn gnome for tending to the livestock throughout the year. It was believed that if the gnome didn't get his reward he would put a curse on the farmer and his animals. 

Words: Annie Ferguson
Photography: Mariann Høgevold Midbøe