This is the high point of a Scandinavian Christmas - an evening filled with magic for every child and remembered ever after.
Julegilde, by Lars Jorde The original painting can be viewed at Norway's National Gallery in Oslo
If you are lucky enough to be a guest on this evening of celebration in a Scandinavian home you'll be greeted by the embrazing warmth of the living room, the table set with an abundance of food and decorated with cut flowers under the copper glow of candle light.
The evocative smell of evergreen pine emanates from the Christmas tree. You'll find it is not an artificial tree, it is a tree fresh from the forest, decorated with ornaments, lights and garlands of tiny flags.
Joining hands, forming a circle, and walking around the christmas tree singing christmas carols may often be part of the celebration. Such moments, though simple and spontaneous, are likely to stay with participants as a warm lifelong memory.
This evening all the traditional delicacies are offered - it is when the big meal of the year is eaten.
And after dessert, the plates of cookies and cakes are either placed on a table or passed from hand to hand - the coffee pot is emptied and emptied again.
But the feasting by no means ends with this important evening. The next day there is cold buffet - and on the 26th and 27th when calls are made on friends, still more food.
The enjoyment can go on as long as the season lasts - and to many in Scandinavia, Christmas is not over until well into January.
Few subjects in Norwegian art are so often shown in Christmas cards and magazines as Lars Jorde’s “Julegilde”. The painting conveys a mood that many associate with Christmas Eve, snow and darkness outdoors, tradition, light and festivities indoors.
Against the blue evening sky we see the outline of a typical timber house from the Gudbrandsdal, with light in every window. The Christmas feast is evidently coming to a close; the hosts are in the open door saying good-bye to the guests. In the snowy yard we see a horse and sled ready to take some of the guests home. More sleds in the foreground give life and perspective to the picture. The artist is playing on the contrasts between the light outdoors and indoors, between the cold and warm colors.
Lars Jorde created the painting after a visit with good friends on the Skoug farm near Lillehammer. Her he stayed for periods as a guest of the farmer Erik Skoug who was known for supporting young and poor artists.
The painting represents a high point in Jorde’s early development as an artist, with emphasis on evocative motifs rendered with bluish and gray-violet nuances, executed in somewhat veiled, picturesque strokes giving a feeling of dreamy melancholy.
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