Northern Light Holiday

In Scandinavia, the sun shines for only a few scant hours on December days, but the warmth of the holidays still shines bright.


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So much splendid winter white invites contrast at Christmas. Even a modest tree makes a strong silhouette, its dark branches striking a dramatic pose agains walls and windows free of pattern and color.

Red decorations pop out from the white backdrop with a graphic, candy-cane effect. Like the style itself, the Scandinavian holiday ornaments are clean and simple. And in the best folk tradition, they're straight form the heart.

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Straw has a long-standing history in Scandinavian celebrations as the material of choice for making ornamental goats, believed to pull the sleigh of "Jultomten" or Santa. Bring a little of that tradition indoors with these simple ornaments. All you need is a few strands of straw, glue, and red raffia ribbon.

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Straw, wheat and other natural materials are saved from the fall harvest in Scandinavia to make simple holiday decorations. In this star-burst wreath, wheat sheaves radiate from a central circle decorated with green sprigs and red berries.

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In ancient times, evergreen boughs were believed to house the gods of growth and rejuvenation. Bringing branches indoors in winter was believed to be a way to harness the gods' life-giving powers.

With their bold green color and fresh scent, it's understandable how the myth was started. And boughs in an entryway are always as welcoming as the promise of spring that they hold.

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Scandinavian simplicity is evident on the mantel where tall white tapers are stair-stepped in two groupings and offset by chunky pillar candles. A sheer white mantel scarf trimmed in white lace unifies the arrangement and serves as an underpinning for a garland of wheat and evergreens.

Made from sheer white fabric, the simple stockings are edged in wide white lace for a classic, handmade look typical of Scandinavian country style. To tie in with the tree decorations, the stockings are accented with red wooden heart-shaped ornaments.

The effect makes the stone hearth with its warm fire even more appealing as a place for friends and family to gather and share good times.

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