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Christmas with a Swedish flair

By Jim Palmer


Some of the Swedish Christmas decorations in Alyce’s home in Sauk Centre. Photo by Bella Banal

Alyce Hintzen, 91, of Sauk Centre is a proud Swede. And she likes to celebrate Christmas by decorating her house in full Swedish decor.


“I love my heritage and I love Swedish things,” she said. “And everything I have is kinda old and bringing them out to display them is for traditions. It also brings out memories of the people who are no longer here.”


Alyce has purchased some of the decorations and also made several of them over the years.


The process of decorating the house inside and out takes several days, and she does it all by herself.


Some of the Swedish Christmas decorations in Alyce’s home in Sauk Centre. Photo by Bella Banal

“I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this,” she laughed. “I have been doing this a long time.”


Hintzen was raised in Dassel and has lived in Sauk Centre since the 1950s. She has decorated her house for Christmas every year.


“I moved to Sauk Centre in 1952 to be a second grade teacher,” she said. “My husband (Robert) was in the Korean Conflict and we met the first year I was here. After he came home from Korea, we got married and he built this home in 1957. And I’m still here.”


Many of the decorations have a special meaning through Swedish tradition and folklore. Alyce has several unique items with meanings, including the rooster in the kitchen (bringing good luck/good food), some billy goats around the Christmas tree (bringing protection) and three stalks of wheat in the dining room (representing the manger scene).


Some of the Swedish Christmas decorations in Alyce’s home in Sauk Centre. Photo by Bella Banal

“The stalks of wheat were brought in by my dad about 50-60 years ago,” she said.


Alyce’s husband was a German, but he seemed to be OK with the Swedish decorations.


“He was German-Catholic and I’m Swedish-Lutheran, but it worked,” she said. “And he didn’t say much or complain about the decorations.”


Robert passed away in 2005.


Besides the decorations, Alyce also likes to prepare Swedish dishes for her family, including Swedish rice with raspberry sauce, cranberry sauce and, of course, Swedish meatballs.

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