Julebakst (Christmas Baking)
Christmas baking (julebakst) begins in advance (sometimes in November) and is usually of seven kinds of cookies (syv sorter). Syv sorter (seven sorts) refers to the seven traditional Norwegian Christmas cookies. Depending on the region in Norway that one is from, the seven sorts can differ widely.
Why seven sorts?
The number seven has had a magical meaning to people for thousands of years. It might be connected to natural phenomena, like the seven colors in the rainbow. Many cultures through the centuries have supported the cult of the magic number. According to mythology, the city of Rome was built by seven kings, and according to Islam, Allah created seven heavens on top of each other. In the first book of the Bible, God created the world in seven days. And later, anyone who dares to kill Cain “will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Seven years of plenty and seven years of famine appear in Pharaoh’s dream in Genesis 41, and in Exodus 13 there are seven days of the feast of Passover. The fall of the walls of Jericho takes place on the seventh day after marching around the city seven times. Jesus is known to have had seven last words (or sayings) on the cross. And seven is the number of the wonders of the ancient world.
Here are 15 of the popular cookies, complete with recipes (which are in Norwegian but Google Translate can help!):
Pepperkaker or gingerbread, is THE Christmas cookie. No other cookie is more directly associated with Christmas in Norway than pepperkaker. Made of dried ginger, syrup and spice, pepperkaker can be eaten plain or decorated with icing and candy. You might also find pepperkaker being used as Christmas tree decorations!