Gingerbread Wonderland at the Norway House
A delicious holiday display
By: Sylvia Rani
Driving down East Franklin Avenue on a blustery and cold day, the last thing one would expect to come across is a miniature Norwegian holiday oasis. Hidden amongst the coffee shops and churches of Ventura Village, the Norway House’s Gingerbread Wonderland is a cozy winter treasure for all ages to enjoy.
Gingerbread Wonderland follows the tradition of Pepperkakebyen, the world’s largest gingerbread city of over 3,000 houses built every year in Bergen, Norway. The Twin Cities’ version contains over 100 houses, most of them tiny replicas of local buildings. The Norway House accepts all submissions from the community, so even beginner bakers can have their work displayed. The blue-lit room is divided into four different sections: Minneapolis, Saint Paul, International, and Festive. Adults and children alike delight in seeing the oven-baked versions of their familiar favorites such as the Saint Paul Hotel, the Franklin Library, and the Basilica of Saint Mary (complete with tinted sugar-glass windows). There is even a mini UBS tower with a small raccoon at the top in reference to the viral news story from earlier this year. The International and Festive sections showcase detailed and creative works, including a carefully crafted Norwegian Consulate General and the Platform 9 ¾ from “Harry Potter.”
While practice of building gingerbread houses originated in Germany, gingerbread itself has its roots in Norwegian culture. “It is a Norwegian tradition to eat pepperkaker, a heart-shaped gingerbread cookie, around this time of year,” one of the event volunteers informed me. The Norway House hosts this event to foster community building and creativity during the holiday season.
Once visitors are finished with the display, there are plenty of Nordic cuisines available in the house’s “Kaffebar.” My friend and I went for some creamy chicken and wild rice soup with bacon, a deliciously warm brew that came with a piece of “knekkebrød,” a Norwegian crispbread.
The Norway House’s Gingerbread Wonderland will be on view through January 6. Admission is five dollars and free for members and children under 12.