Visual Stories

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

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.