Shelbyville Daily Union

Community News Network

December 24, 2013

Expatriates try to adapt elements of home for Christmas

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Icelanders like to roast or grill their ptarmigan or, sometimes, simmer the quail-size bird in a creamy roux. When they can get it, that is.

"It's not easy to find," said Jonsson, who works at the World Bank. "You have to know a guy who knows a guy. It helps to have diplomatic status."

Some years, when no one has slipped a few birds into the diplomatic pouch and online suppliers are too expensive, Jonsson has made do with other game meat.

Such as reindeer, which is another head-scratcher for local butchers. He doesn't even ask for whale meat.

"In an emergency, I have used venison," Jonsson said. "I'd like to try bison."

This year, he's in luck, with several pounds of bird in his Bethesda, Md. freezer (the bounty of a fall visit to Reykjavik). That leaves him and his wife free to organize the small presents their 8-year-old son expects on each of the 13 nights he puts his shoe on the windowsill of his Bethesda bedroom.

It's an ancient Icelandic custom that mischievous jolasveinar, or yule lads, will leave a trinket in the shoe of a nice child (or a potato for a naughty one). A few of the 13 Santa-like characters also made an appearance at the Jolaball, an annual Christmas fete hosted by the Icelandic Association of Washington that rocked Bethesda's Emmanuel Lutheran Church on Saturday.

"It's important to us to maintain our national idiosyncrasies," Jonsson said. "It's very easy in Washington to do that. The whole world is here."

For idiosyncratic holiday traditions, it's hard to beat the Catalan-born residents who bring out a little crouching shepherd, called a caganer, for their Washington manger scenes. The traditional carved or ceramic figurines, sold in the markets outside the Barcelona Cathedral, are shown doing something a Crate & Barrel ornament never would: defecating.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • A night in Ferguson

    For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald's a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown's shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby.

    August 14, 2014