Barneblad: Have a (woven) heart this Christmas!

Brought to you by Lori Ann Reinhall

Every family has its Christmas traditions, from making cookies to cooking lutefisk, from singing songs to decorating the Christmas tree. There is so much to enjoy together during the holiday season.

But with all the talk about Scandinavian hearts in this issue, I started to think about one of my favorite activities from days gone by: making woven heart-shaped paper baskets for the Christmas tree.

No one knows exactly when the tradition of the julehjerte—Christmas heart—got started, but the oldest documentation goes back to Denmark in 1871. The oldest woven Christmas heart we know of from 1873 is on display at the National Museum of Norway in Oslo.

Indeed, few things are more traditionally Scandinavian than these lovely julehjerter, and they are so fun and easy to make. It was a joy to relive this experience once again for this year’s holiday Barneblad.

What you need to make a julehjerte:

• Two colors of paper. Red, of course, is traditional for Christmas, and it looks good with white, gold, or green. If your paper is a little thicker, you can fill your heart with nuts or candy and and hang it on your Christmas tree. Construction paper measuring 8½ inches by 11 inches works perfectly.

• A pair of scissors

• Ruler

• Water glass

• Pencil

1) Fold your paper in half. Using the top of the glass as a template, lightly draw two circles a few inches above the fold, so that the far side of the circle touches the edge of the paper. Use the ruler to draw two parallel lines from the sides of the circles back to the fold. Cut them out.

2) Use the ruler to measure the folded side of each heart half. Mark three points that divide it into fourths, and draw straight lines from those points about three-quarters up the archways. Cut along those three lines to create three little legs at the bottom of the archways.

3) Unfold the halves and refold the cutoff, so the pencil marks are on the inside. Hold one heart half in your hand, weave the other through it one strip at a time. Go through the strips, over and under, so your basket can hold things.

4) Cut out a handle and glue it to each side of the woven heart basket that you have created. You can now fill your heart with nuts or little pieces of candy and hang it on your Christmas tree or wherever you choose to display it.

Photos by Lori Ann Reinhall

This article originally appeared in the December 2, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

Avatar photo

Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.