December 14, 2017

Christmas At American Swedish Institute

While everyone’s flocking to the beach when the weather gets cold, I’m taking the family up to Minnesota for fun holiday weekend. One of the reasons I chose the Twin Cities area to explore is the American Swedish Institute. It’s not because I’m Swedish (I’m only partly), it’s because the place is a castle.

Or looks like one. Doesn’t matter. I knew it would be a hit with my castle-obsessed son.

As luck would have it, we visited on the first weekend of December when ASI was hold its Julmarknad, a Christmas market with live music, Swedish treats, make ‘n take crafts, and lots of shopping opportunities. Disclosure: Our visit was complimentary so I could write about it. 

Julmarknad at American Swedish Institute

We tried the Swedish pepparkakor, a ginger snap cookie. The tradition is, if you tap the cookie in the middle and it breaks into three pieces, your wish comes true.

From the beginning, the Julmarknad was not like any other holiday festival I attended. As we waited in line to enter, we were given some gingersnap cookies called pepparkakor and told about the tradition of Wish Cookie. If you end up with three pieces, your wish would come true. Meanwhile, we learned about a huge Swedish horn.

Then we were swept inside with all the others. There’s a lot to see and do at the Christmas market. I should’ve had a better plan of attack, but I just wanted to soak it all in.

My son adding a wish to the display during American Swedish Institute’s Julmarknad.

My kids enjoyed the activities, like making a Lucia crown and the trying the fiskdamm, a little fish pond game where they won a bag of candy. They reluctantly met Tomte in the mansion salon, as well, since he too had candy. Tomte is a mythical Nordic creature associated with Christmas, and may be a little frightening to the uninitiated. They survived and got their candy.

Tomte may have frightened my kids, but he gave them candy, so they didn’t hold a grudge.

Another fun stop for families is on the third level of the mansion: Ulla’s Bakery was a kids play area. The play area is there year-round, not just for this festival.

We cruised through the castle mansion, and eventually made our way to one of the halls where they had a bake sale and were serving glögg (mulled wine), for an extra fee. My daughter opted for the safe choice of chocolate chip cookie, while the rest of us tried the kringla.

Fest! Merry Mansion

My photos don’t do the Turnblad Mansion justice. It’s beautifully decorated for “Fest! Merry Mansion” which runs through Jan. 7, 2018.

You missed the weekend for the 2017 Julmarknad, but if you hurry, you can still see the mansion exquisitely decorated for Christmas. “Fest! Merry Mansion – Nordic Holidays” exhibition is open until Jan. 7, 2018. Rooms in the Turnblad Mansion are decked out in displays of customs and traditions from the five Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

Don’t skip walking around outdoors to see the mansion. You won’t find lights strung up all around it, no, but it’s a pretty castle to see (in my kids’ words).

The American Swedish Institute is inside the Turnblad Mansion in Minneapolis.

 

If You Go

American Swedish Institute

Where: 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis, Minn.

When: “Fest! Merry Mansion – Nordic Holidays” exhibition is open until Jan. 7, 2018.

Website

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Want to plan your own Great Minnesota Weekend?You can get some inspiration from my Holiday Weekend In Minnesota and Roseville & Twin Cities Bucket List now, or check out these upcoming posts:

Where To Stay When Visiting The Twin Cities 

What Young Kids Like At The Science Museum Of Minnesota

 

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