Christmas traditions and customs vary from family to family and land to land. I enjoy reading about many different traditions in Texas by reading the book “Christmas in Texas” by Elizabeth Silverthorne. My Austin, Texas forefathers came to east Travis County from the Småland, Sweden area about 1870 or 71. Småland is the land of IKEA, which we now have in the Austin area at 1431 and IH 35 in Round Rock, Texas. Growing up, I became familiar with dishes like Ostakaka, a Swedish cheesecake type dish served with Lingonberries. Lutefiskis another Swedish dish that I made for my grandmother and we ate at Christmas gatherings. I remember buying the fish for the dish somewhere around my grandmother’s house at 608 Texas Avenue in Austin, Texas at a neighborhood grocer that is no longer there. Now the only local place I know to buy Lutefisk is Quality Seafood Market on Airport Blvd. We also had my grandmother’s homemade rolls and bread. I miss those days with my parents, grandmother and other Swedish Austin area relatives. Pictured are my mother’s handpainted Swedish candleholder set that I set out at Christmas. The book “The Swedish Texans” by Larry E. Scott is a great book about the immigration to Texas from Sweden that began in 1848.
New Sweden Church at 12809 New Sweden Church Road, was organized in 1876 and is is steeped in Swedish tradition. The church’s copper spire is 104 feet high and has been an Central Texas Austin area landmark close to Manor, Pflugerville, Elgin and Taylor, Texas since the 1800’s. December 24th at 7:00pm they are holding the Christmas Eve Candlelight service and Christmas Dawn at 7:00am they hold the Julotta candlelight program. I love history and geneology as well as old historic buildings and homes. I hope to attend one or both of these services to touch my ancestry as well as enjoy a local historic landmark. Turns out that my great, great grandfather Gustaf Ax aka Corporal Ax and his wife Johanna Swenson Ax were the first to be listed in the New Sweden church book. I find it interesting to research local history about relatives from so long ago that I never knew. New Sweden, Texas back in those years was a thriving community full of local businesses. Now it is more desolate farmland and the site of the Pflugerville Solar Farm.
The United States is a wonderfully diverse land full of many wonderful cultural traditions and foods. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanza, or none of the above, I’d love to hear what special traditions, dishes and buildings are part of your family’s celebrations. I’d also love to hear about other cultural events in the Austin area that you enjoy. Please comment using the form below.