Julanders (Får e’ ikkj’ kørs og kak’ ska’ e’ aljlj ungan tak)
The background for this tradition is not known. The Jul-Anders night coincides with St. Andreas’ day. There is therefore reason to believe that there is a connection between Jul-Anders and Catholic times in Norway. But some of the content of the custom is also reminiscent of pagan times with the abduction of children as an important element.
“Throughout the autumn, two – three or more young men had prepared to go Jul-Anders, sew masks,and make leather clothes and equipment. On Jul-Anders Night, they walked around in animal skins and leather clothes, wore bells and masks – often with horns. They came out in the dark with the sound of the bells, hit the walls with their long, heavy rods, and demanded to enter the house. If they did not get any meat, they would take kids with them in the bag. Sometimes they actually took kids. Their journey was a horror for little children, who hid in hooks and under tables and benches when Jul-Anders came in”.
Translated to English from an article by Øystein Ringaker.
This diorama marks the beginning of my new series, in which I will be taking inspiration from my own background in the north of Norway.
It takes you right into the kitchen of my grandparents in Beiarn, and the 30th of November. The Jul-Anders night.
This tradition was something my dad used to tell us stories about. His memories from his childhood in the 50’s. How they would be listening for the Jul-Anders, hearing the noise from their bells and their shouting in the dark, coming closer to the house…
Building the kitchen
Even if it is a replica of my grandparents’ kitchen, many things have changed since 1950.
I had to do quite a bit of research, for elements like the water-pump and the stove.
The characters are all based on real life people.
I took a lot of inspiration for their outfits from family photos.
The Jul-Anders characters
It was preferably young, grown men who went Jul-Anders. They had to dress according to certain rules. The suit should have an animal feel, preferably with skins from wild animals, but it could also be from domestic animals. The animal character could be emphasized by the fact that Jul-Anders often had a cows tail attached to the suit. The footwear had to match, and the mask was made of leather and was to be as grotesque as possible, preferably with fangs and horns, and with blood stains and tears. Examples of such grotesque elements could be horns that were filled with blood, or another red-colored liquid, and which “accidentally” could leak.
I have a box full of furs and skins after my ancestors’ animals. So creating these outfits was quite a lot of fun. I was able to use old authentic material, knowing that these were happy animals once upon a time, turning them into miniature outfits and masks.
There are not a lot of photos of Jul-Anders, the way they used to dress up before the tradition turned into the less scary version that is practiced today. Most of my research was based on reading the articles in the Beiarn yearbooks, with good descriptions of the masks and outfits of these men.
Great sources of information for this project in general are Odd Eiring and Inge Strand.
Beiarn Bygdetun provided me with additional images of the 1940 mask.
Making of Arne and Odd
Knitting sweaters and socks on tiny needles.
A coffee grinder sculpted from polymer clay.
A pack of Sun-Maid raisins. Made from cardboard. And some very small painting.
A coffee-pot in the good old-fashioned style, and a replica of the dinner-plates my grandparents used.
I really wanted it to be a replica of the local Bodø-paper Nordlandsposten from November 30th 1950, that I found in the National Librarys archives However, that was a bit too ambitious, and and I am not a fan of print-outs and photo copies, so this miniature one is loosely based on that issue of NP, using cut out letters, bits and pieces from old newspaper,
Since it is so important for the story, I had to give the meat a lot of attention in this scene. There are some pieces boiling, and some are being served. I strived to make them look very red, raw, bloody, yet sort of cooked. I used polymer clay to sculpt them, then painted them and gave them a tiny bit of blood effect. I used Gedeo Crystal resin to make the boiling water.
Painting the view from the window. Polar-night. Inspired by the view from my grandparents’ kitchen in Beiarn.
A table made from an old crayon-box
I built chairs using Obache-wood.
Process, and final result.
This scene took nearly half a year to create.