For many Norwegians in Houston, the Christmas Bazar marks the beginning of the Holiday Season. For the church staff and 120 volunteers, however, the preparations for the event start early in the year. The Christmas Bazar is the single most important fundraising event for the church throughout the year, and about one third of the church’s funds are raised during three intense days. “Without the money raised during this weekend every November, we would have been forced to reduce our activities considerably. A big thanks to everyone contributing to this annual tradition!”, said Arnfinn Eng, pastor at the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in Houston.
With handcrafted Christmas decorations, home knitted sweaters and hats, homemade treats, and bread and hot wheat-buns straight from the oven, both regulars to the Bazar and newcomers were amazed; “We heard about it from some friends of ours, and decided to check it out. The atmosphere is great and our favorite thing is the yeast bread – it’s just amazing!”
The Norwegian Seamen’s church Christmas Bazar has built up a good reputation outside both Houston and Texas, and people even come from far-away states to attend. For Norwegians, the Bazar provides an opportunity to buy traditional Norwegian Christmas foods, like pinnekjøtt (dried and salted lamb meat), rømmegrøt (sour cream porridge), kransekake (ring cake) and lutefisk (lye fish). For Americans, especially those with Norwegian roots, the Bazar provides a venue to become familiar with Norwegian Christmas traditions, as well as buying traditional Christmas decorations and hand crafted clothing. For Norwegians and Americans alike, as well as other members of the international Houston community, the Bazar functions as a meeting place where beloved traditions and that special holiday feeling are in focus. Overall, a great diversity of people come from near and far to enjoy a little taste of Norway. “A lot of people give us feedback that this is an important event –for some, maybe even the highlight of the year”, Eng said. “We are very pleased with this year’s turnout! About 2000 people came to the Bazar, and we generated almost 120.000 USD. This is great, especially when taking the current downturn in the oil market into account. We are already looking forward to next year’s Bazar. If you want to join in the preparations or during the event – let us know! The Norwegian Seamen’s Church in Houston wishes everyone a good and peaceful Christmas and Holiday season!”