Set your Christmas table with tradition

From nisse to Christmas plates, Porsgrund has it all

This year’s Christmas plate in the traditional blue and white colors features the Christmas rose. There is also a mug available with the same pattern.

MICHAEL KLEINER
Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American

The brick building on Porselensveien along the Porsgrunn River in Porsgrunn, Norway, first opened in 1885, producing its first porcelain two years later. Porsgrund Porselænsfabrik (Porcelain Factory) still uses the building, the only porcelain factory in Norway. Over time, its porcelain became known as “White Gold,” signifying “the status and quality.”

Johan Jeremiassen, vice mayor, successful shipping and ice exports entrepreneur, opened the factory. Tias Eckhoff, Nora Gulbrandsen, and Konrad Galaaen, well-known industrial designers, made their imprints on Porsgrund, influences that remain to this day. Porsgrund’s handpainters initial every piece they make.

Like so much in Norway, Porsgrund draws inspiration from Norwegian nature and lifestyle. Products represent Nordic Spring, Cabin Life, Nordic Nature, Nordic Wedding, Nordic Lifestyle, and Nordic by the Sea. Nothing gives them more pleasure than producing their Christmas items to decorate the Christmas table.

“Christmas is one of our favorite holidays,” writes General Manager Stine Gjørtz in the 68-page Christmas catalog. “There is nothing that pleases us more than imagining Porsgrund’s products being part of the Christmas celebration—either as crockery on beautifully laid Christmas tables or as gifts under the tree.

Since 1885, Porsgrund has been making dinnerware to adorn Norwegian Christmas tables. WIth a wide variety of items, there is something for everyone.

“Christmas is often filled with good traditions that we value so deeply. Traditions provide security and predictability in an unpredictable time. Porsgrunds Porselænsfabrik has been a large part of Christmas traditions in Norwegian homes ever since our beginning.”

There are numerous choices that can be used as decorations or gifts. You can choose a plain white object and still feel a sense of elegance or simplicity. The Marius design on service matches your Norwegian sweaters. The East Telemark-bunad patterned bowl by Ingrid is perfect for your Christmas porridge. And as bunads are made to last generations, so, too, is Porsgrund dedicated to long-lasting quality.

Then, there’s the Nisse service, the Christmas plate, and new Bølge and Nordic Winter collections. There’s dancing nisser on cups or in bowls; sledding on plates or pitchers; skiing on small bowls, or porcelain nisser characters that can be used as tree ornaments. There are two new nisser for the table: the clumsy skater and a mischievous, laughing one.

The ever-popular Nisse service, first introduced in 1902, is still one of the most popular, both for formal dinner and Christmas breakfast tables.

“The Nisse tableware was launched in 1902 and is one of our oldest tableware and still one of our most popular,” writes Gjørtz. “For many, it is a tradition to take out the Nisse service on the first of December and enjoy the service throughout the month. We think this is a wonderful tradition. This year, too, there will be six nice Nisse novelties that we hope can find a place in thousands of Norwegian Christmas homes.”

Cathrine Kirkerud is designer of the 2022 Christmas plate, a Porsgrund item begun in 1909, featuring the Christmas rose. Porsgrund changes the Christmas plate designer every five years.

The ever-popular Nisse can be found hanging on porcelain bowls waiting of his Christmas porridge and on cups, plates, and ornaments.

“The rose is in blue and covers nearly the entire surface of the plate. There is also a mug. They can complement traditional Christmas or modern and stylish tableware. Last year, Kirkerud included mistletoe, but has returned to the rose, inspired by the over 100-year-old tradition. Following the 1909 edition, which had 225 copies, a Christmas plate was not produced until 1968 when chief designer Eystein Sandnes felt it should be revised,” says designer Erik Lindberg.“I wanted to capture the delicacy of the beautiful flower when I drew this year’s motif,” says Kirkerud.

The plates have become collectors’ items.

Kirkerud and Lindberg collaborated on the Bølge line, creating bowls, vases, and a jug, that reflect modern design while also paying homage to the factory’s historical connection to the sea. The catalog says: “… it has been central to combine good functionality with unique details that give character to the products in the series ….”

From a distance, one might think Nordic Winter are fancy tall-folded napkins, but they’re elegant winter trees, handmade from white porcelain by Lindberg. They come in several sizes: 6.5 inches 9.5 inches, 12 inches, 16 inches, and 20 inches tall.

Nisser can even be found on cookie tins for storing your syv slags kaker—seven varieties of cookies—for your holiday guests.

“Handmade porcelain gives these decorations an informal expression, while the simple design means the trees fit into most interior styles.

“Although we have a long history and many traditions, we want to continuously renew ourselves. This is how we can survive and be relevant for another 100 years. We are proud to be able to scale up our production in Norway, with crockery where old craft traditions meet modern design. Nordic Winter, like Bølge, has a modern and elegant expression that we hope will appeal to many,” says Gjørtz.

Porsgrund ships worldwide. Place your order at porsgrund.com. Happy holidays!

All photos courtesy of Porsgrund

This article originally appeared in the December 2, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Michael Kleiner

Michael Kleiner, business and sports editor, has more than three decades of experience as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. He has operated his own PR and web design business for small businesses, authors and community organizations in Philadelphia since 1999. Not of Norwegian descent, he lived in Norway for a year with his family at age 11 and has returned as an adult. He is the author of a memoir, Beyond the Cold: An American’s Warm Portrait of Norway, and a member of the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Philadelphia. Visit Kleinerprweb.com; beyondthecold.com.

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