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  • Writer's pictureJ Susan Aitken

Gingerbread Fun 2022

I scratched my head a while back, thinking about what gingerbread house I wanted to do this year. I have a wonderful little collection of Swedish Dala horses in varying sizes and I got to thinking that I might be able to build one from gingerbread instead of a typical house. [Note here: Dala horses are carved and painted wooden statues that have become a Swedish national symbol.] And then I started thinking of what I could do with this gingerbread horse, and the Trojan horse idea emerged. As did my story. Sooo, this year, in order to truly understand my little gingerbread scene, you have to read the legend first! Here it is:

The Legend of the Swedish Trojan Horse

Once upon a time, there was a grumpy farmer named Svenson who did not treat his tomte, [a very helpful Swedish house gnome] with respect or kindness. The tomte, naturally, would not tolerate it and left the farm to make his home elsewhere. Svenson did not treat his neighbors fairly either, and he was accused of stealing a pig and other food from them.

This injustice made the local tomten angry, and they decided to make mischief, steal back the pig and whatever else they could grab. But they needed a plan.

It was common knowledge that the farmer loved the iconic wooden Swedish Dala horses that were carved and sold throughout Sweden. Through the years he had bought quite a few of these horses in different sizes and was proud of his collection. This gave the tomten a great idea. They would build a large Dala horse and hide in it so that they could get on his property without him knowing - just like the trojan horse used by the Greeks! A couple of the tomten would present him with the large horse for his collection and later, when the farmer was back in his house, the tomten would empty out of the horse and do their mischief.

As it happened, the day they put finishing touches on the huge Dala horse was the same day as the rehearsal for the annual Swedish Lucia festival. The girl chosen as that year’s Lucia lived on the farm where the Dala horse was being constructed. When she discovered it, she assumed it was made for the festival and asked for a ride, thinking they were going to take it to the rehearsal. Her brothers were going along as Star Boys in the pageant as well. Since Lucias were supposed to be good luck, the tomten allowed her on board, but did not tell her what they were doing.

The Swedish trojan horse worked like a charm, and the farmer, although somewhat suspicious, was thrilled with his newest Dala horse acquisition. Happily, he returned to the house for the evening, and the tomten poured out of the horse to start their mischief.

Just as one tomte grabbed a squealing pig, Farmer Svenson heard the noise and ran back outside. He was just in time to see the beautiful Lucia and her star boys descend from the horse – she was getting cramped and thought they had finally arrived at the rehearsal. His cold heart melted to see this symbol of light and goodwill, and he greeted them kindly. When he realized what the tomten were up to, he allowed them to take the pig, some nuts and apples and some hay.

The Lucia was upset that she missed her pageant practice, but she cheered up when the farmer gave her some food to take to the poor. From that day on, Farmer Sveson was kinder and more gracious. So much so that his tomte returned to the farm, and they both lived happily ever after.

This gingerbread "house" is the scene where the Lucia and the star boys are descending the horse, and the tomten have gathered nuts, apples, hay and, of course, the squealing pig. I hope you enjoy it!

Note: If you double click on the video, it will be enlarged on your screen.

Construction Note: The horse is entirely gingerbread with no artificial support. It is completely freestanding. The red on the horse is fondant, as are the little people. The design work is painted with food coloring. To make it shiny, it was sprayed with an edible glaze spray.

Just for fun here is the gingerbread horse next to two of my wooden Dala horses:

Painting News

A collection of my work will be back at the Sweetwaters Cafe in Canton during the month of March, and currently two of my portraits (shown below) are hanging in the Three Cities Art Exhibit at the Westland City Hall. They will be there until the January 6th.


Oil on Canvas

30 x 24"


Oil on Canvas

30 x 24"

I wish each one of you a Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Year as we enter 2023!


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