I don’t have a drop of Scandinavian blood in my veins, but I really love the northern European custom of Juleneg, in which a wheat sheaf is attached to a roof gable or adjacent pole or tree at Christmas time. Elves or fairies are often pictured affixing these “Christmas bundles”– holiday feasts for the birds. The wheat sheaf is so symbolic; for us it tends to symbolize the harvest, but it can also represent sustenance through the winter and hope fulfilled: what better Christmas message? I think we should adopt the Juleneg custom, especially here in Salem, where wheat sheaves have the additional connection to Samuel McIntire, the architect of our beautiful Federal city.
Wheat Sheaves for Christmas: a Juleneg card from 1911, a McIntire mantle and pin from the PEM shop, the cover of a Federal-era snuffbox, and proofs for chromolithographic Christmas cards from Prang of Boston, 1880s (New York Public Library Digital Gallery).