On Campus Blog

What’s all that pastry and wool at Augsburg?

Velkommen Jul Sweater_0193
That's a lot of Norwegian. (Courtesy of Augsburg College)

Krumkake. Kransekake. Lefse. Julekage.

Just try to say that three times fast.

I'm surrounded by the stuff in the dining hall -- a big spread of Scandinavian treats with holiday decorations and live classical music in the background.

Heart-shaped vafler with jam and whipped cream? I'm in. I'll even take the strange brown slices of caramelized goat cheese.

baked goodies
I don't care what you call it. I'll eat it. (Alex Friedrich / MPR)

After all, it's Velkommen Jul, Augsburg's traditional Scandinavian-style Christmas celebration.

Just don't try to Google it. You won't find any such holiday in Northern Europe.

Augsburg kinda ... made it up.

No one seems to know for sure how long it has been going on, but formal mention dates back about 20 years. The Augsburg Associates, a mostly female alumni association, started it as a way to raise money for the school.

Larson (right) working the decorations. (Alex Friedrich / MPR)

Barb "Bunny" Larson of Edina, who graduated from here with a music degree in1963, chaired the event for a few years. She seemed to think it's been around since the 1960s.

She says Velkommen Jul is Norwegian for "Welcome to Christmas" -- "to welcome the community and students to Christmas season."

It's also a big alumni event. As we talk, a sea of older folks in Norwegian sweaters passes en route to the tables of holiday decorations and gifts for sale.

Hardcore (Alex Friedrich / MPR)

Many are fresh out of a chapel service that Augsburg bills as "one of the largest gatherings of Norwegian sweaters in the country."

(And no, they're not the tacky sweaters we make fun of here.)

Some really go native. Kathryn Selin, a 2007 graduate in Norwegian studies, dressed up in folk costume along with her Norwegian husband, Jens, and her two boys, 3-year-old Thomas and 1-year-old David.

The day before the couple got married on Dec. 3, 2005, did she spend the time making last-minute wedding arrangements the way most normal folks do?

Nope. She went to Velkommen Jul.

"It's part of our tradition now," she says.

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