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Julebukking in Petersburg, Alaska: A different kind of Christmas Tradition

Santa greets hungry patrons at Papa Bear's Pizza. Petersburg, the "Little Norway" of Alaska, celebrates the coming of Christmas with Julebukking. Local businesses give out food to the community, to thank them for their patronage throughout the year. The origin of Julebukking has pagan roots, but the way it is now celebrated in Norway is much like American Halloween. People go door to door, dressed in costume, and partake in eating treats given out by neighbors. Dec. 23, 2013
Tara Young photo
The Son's of Norway Hall decorated for the holidays. Petersburg, the "Little Norway" of Alaska, celebrates the coming of Christmas with Julebukking. Local businesses give out food to the community, to thank them for their patronage throughout the year. The origin of Julebukking has pagan roots, but the way it is now celebrated in Norway is much like American Halloween. People go door to door, dressed in costume, and partake in eating treats given out by neighbors. Dec. 24, 2013
Tara Young photo
Petersburg, the "Little Norway" of Alaska, celebrates the coming of Christmas with Julebukking. Local businesses give out food to the community, to thank them for their patronage throughout the year. The origin of Julebukking has pagan roots, but the way it is now celebrated in Norway is much like American Halloween. People go door to door, dressed in costume, and partake in eating treats given out by neighbors.
Tara Young photo
Petersburg, the "Little Norway" of Alaska, celebrates the coming of Christmas with Julebukking. Local businesses give out food to the community, to thank them for their patronage throughout the year. The Oxford Carolers sing at the Sing Lee Alley bookstore. The origin of Julebukking has pagan roots, but the way it is now celebrated in Norway is much like American Halloween. People go door to door, dressed in costume, and partake in eating treats given out by neighbors. Dec. 24, 2013
Tara Young photo
Petersburg, the "Little Norway" of Alaska, celebrates the coming of Christmas with Julebukking. Local businesses give out food to the community, to thank them for their patronage throughout the year. The Oxford Carolers sing at the Sing Lee Alley bookstore. The origin of Julebukking has pagan roots, but the way it is now celebrated in Norway is much like American Halloween. People go door to door, dressed in costume, and partake in eating treats given out by neighbors. Dec. 24, 2013
Tara Young photo
Petersburg, the "Little Norway" of Alaska, celebrates the coming of Christmas with Julebukking. Local businesses give out food to the community, to thank them for their patronage throughout the year. The origin of Julebukking has pagan roots, but the way it is now celebrated in Norway is much like American Halloween. People go door to door, dressed in costume, and partake in eating treats given out by neighbors. Dec. 23, 2013
Tara Young photo
Petersburg, the "Little Norway" of Alaska, celebrates the coming of Christmas with Julebukking. Local businesses give out food to the community, to thank them for their patronage throughout the year. Lee's clothing store, offers a fabulous spread of homemade Norwegian treats. The origin of Julebukking has pagan roots, but the way it is now celebrated in Norway is much like American Halloween. People go door to door, dressed in costume, and partake in eating treats given out by neighbors. Dec. 23, 2013
Tara Young photo
The Oxford Carolers and others, perform annually at a winter community concert. This year it was held on Winter Solstice. Dec. 22, 2013
Tara Young photo
Petersburg, the "Little Norway" of Alaska, celebrates the coming of Christmas with Julebukking. Local businesses give out food to the community, to thank them for their patronage throughout the year. Lee's clothing store, offers a fabulous spread of homemade Norwegian treats. The origin of Julebukking has pagan roots, but the way it is now celebrated in Norway is much like American Halloween. People go door to door, dressed in costume, and partake in eating treats given out by neighbors. Dec. 23, 2013
Tara Young photo
Tara Young

Julebukking, a Norwegian Christmas tradition, is a lot like Halloween. Residents dress up, going door to door and sharing treats with neighbors. And in the Southeast Alaska town of Petersburg, the custom is alive and well.

Petersburg, a community of about 3,200 that lies almost equidistant from both Juneau and Ketchikan on the Southeast Panhandle, is occasionally referred to as "Little Norway," thanks to the communty's festival of the same name in May and the number of residents of Scandinavian descent. In that vein, Julebukking remains an annual tradition on Christmas Eve in the small town.

Similar to Christmas caroling, residents go from store to store and sing holiday songs, and are then rewarded with treats. Traditional Julebukking involves a kind of masquerade, where carolers wear costumes and masks and attempt to hide their identities from those they're singing to, while the recipients of the carols attempt to guess who's behind the mask.