By Jennifer Von Ohlen
COKATO, MN Christmas is the season when old-time family traditions come alive, and are often shared among relatives, friends, and community members.
For many in the Dassel-Cokato area, these traditions trace back to Scandinavian roots, which the Cokato Laestadian Lutheran Church will be highlighting in its fifth annual Scandinavian Christmas Bazaar.
The event will take place Friday, Dec. 2 from 4 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 3 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is no admission fee.
In celebration of this being the bazaar’s fifth year, the first 300 people in attendance will receive a gift.
The bazaar was designed to give attendees a traditional Scandinavian Christmas experience, consisting of a Swedish meatball dinner including mashed potatoes, a salad, bread, and lingonberries a bakery and craft sale, a sausage roast, a Finnish cemetery candle lighting, and more.
Among the baked goods for sale will be prune tarts, Karelian rice pies, lefse (Norwegian flatbread), pasties, pulla (Finnish coffee bread), gingerbread, and other delicacies. Traditional American Christmas goodies will also be available, along with samples of select kinds.
The candle lighting ceremony at the Finnish cemetery will occur Friday evening at 5 p.m. Free candles will be provided for attendees to light and place at their relatives’ grave sites.
Traditional Finnish and Swedish Christmas songs will also be shared during the bazaar’s choir program, which will take place Friday at 6:30 p.m. A sing-a-long session of familiar Finnish and English songs will be enjoyed later that evening at 7:30 p.m. A final choir program will take place Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m.
The bazaar is on, snow or shine
During the bazaar’s first year, the committee was concerned about how many people would actually come due to a strong snowstorm predicted for that same day. To their amazement, the bazaar had a strong turnout, with some even driving from the Twin Cities to attend.
Temperatures below zero were experienced during the bazaar the following year, but that did not seem to put a dent in attendance either.
Last year, the numbers remained high as the committee ran out of food during the dinner, which was prepared to serve 700 people.
Committee head Stephanie Josephson said they are expecting another large turnout this year.
“It’s been so fun to see everybody,” she stated. “Everyone is welcome.”
The committee would like to thank everyone who has attended the bazaar in the past, and is looking forward to seeing familiar faces return.
For more information, visit the event’s facebook page “A Scandinavian Christmas ~Bazaar & Bakery.”