Monday, Nov. 21, 2011

Solvang, Calif.: A Very Scandinavian Christmas

The Southern California city of Solvang (Danish for "sunny field") was settled by Danish Americans in the early 1900s and to this day continues to celebrate its Scandinavian roots. Often referred to as the Danish capital of America, Solvang observes Julefest every year to mark the Christmas season. The word Jule is associated with Christmas, but it dates back to the Norse times, when it referred to the yearly winter solstice — the turning point when the daylight hours are at their shortest but begin to grow longer again. After the village's half-timbered houses and four large windmills are decorated with bright lights, the festivities get under way with a tree lighting at city hall, Danish folk dancers, music, horses and carriages and even a parade.