A Very Scandinavian Christmas
by: Hans Christian Andersen, August Strindberg, Selma Lagerlöf, Karl Ove Knausgård, Hjalmar Söderberg, Ingvar Ambjørnsen, Johan Krohn, Hans Aanrud, Vigdis Hjorth, O.E. Rølvaag, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, Jørgen Moe, Zachris Topelius
Our fourth book in the very popular Very Christmas series, this collection brings together the best Scandinavian holiday stories including classics by Hans Christian Andersen of Denmark; Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf, August Strindberg and Hjalmar Söderberg of Sweden; as well as the popular contemporary Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård. These Nordic tales–coming from the very region where so much of traditional Christmas imagery originates–convey a festive and contemplative spirit laden with lingonberries, elks, gnomes, Sami trolls, candles, church spires, gingerbread, and aquavit in abundance. A smorgasbord of unexpected literary gifts that make up a vibrant, elegant hardcover volume sure to provide plenty of pleasure and hygge, that specifically Scandinavian blend of coziness and contentment.
A Very Scandinavian Christmas is a compilation of eighteen stories written by multiple authors, including well-known authors like Hans Christian Andersen, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and August Strindberg. Short stories are my favorites, especially around the holidays when I may not have as much time to sit down and read full-length novels. When I purchased this, I hoped to read selections from this book as read alouds to my kids, but the content doesn’t exactly lend itself to that purpose. The cover may have deceived me a little bit into thinking otherwise. With that said, this isn’t a children’s book, so I’m certainly not going to complain about that. There were a few stories that were familiar to us like: “The Little Match Girl,” “The Legend of the Christmas Rose,” and “The Brave Tin Soldier.” My personal favorite is “The Forest Witch,” by Johan Krohn. It’s a story written in 1916 about an evil witch who condemns a girl to be her slave once the last flower bloom has faded.
“Snikkesnak!” answered the terrific old witch, for such the creature was. “Don’t talk to me! I never pay attention to what children say; nor to old folks’ talk either, for that matter. Indeed I don’t! Snikkesnak! Snikkesnak! But it is not you that I want, silly girl. It is the boy there who has offended me. The little rascal! It is he who picked the flowers. Now I shall take him!”
I noticed right away that some of the selections were excerpts from other works, and a couple of these stories are somewhat confusing and may leave you scratching your head. Some of the stories don’t feel very Christmassy and have sad content; for example, one deals with infidelity and another with death. If you’re looking for a cheerful, Christmassy, atmospheric collection of Christmas stories, this may not be one for you. I, however, did enjoy this collection of Scandinavian literature regardless. It introduced me to authors I’d never read before, and it’s a nice collection of modern and classic literature in one book.
I’m excited to read some of the other books in the series including A Very Russian Christmas and A Very Irish Christmas. To me, A Very Scandinavian Christmas is a perfect book to read with a hot drink on a cold wintery day.
Thanks for reading my review! Happy New Year! ❤