The Gustavian Weekly

Julgran Celebration kicks off the holiday spirit season | The Gustavian Weekly

By Beth Schmidt Variety Editor | November 18, 2011 | Variety

Cookie contest offers up big bragging rights

This year’s fourth annual Julgran Celebration will be from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011 in the Interpretive Center in the Linnaeus Arboretum. The Julgran Celebration offers Christmas cheer-goers live music by Gustavus students, milk and hot cider, a bazaar and a cookie contest.

Julgran, pronounced with a “y” sound, is Swedish for Christmas tree, and offers an opportunity for the Gustavus community to get together and celebrate the holiday season. The idea of “Christmas tree” was chosen because Cindy Johnson, a professor of biology and the executive director of Linnaeus Arboretum, “wanted to find a way to celebrate trees and the season.”

Trying out new recipes for Santa’s approaching arrival. Heather Pallas.

Having the theme tree-related helps enforce the importance of trees in our lives as the arboretum keeps up with the yearly tradition of putting up a Christmas tree.

“The tree is a juniper, which comes from the arboretum. We select this tree as it is the only native conifer to prairie regions and would have been the tree that early settlers would have chosen,” Johnson said.

Not only is the tree native to the land, but the arboretum can also manage its invasive qualities as “it is in parts of the Arboretum that it should not be, and subsequently we need to remove them and have chosen to do so for our holiday celebration,” Johnson said.

The annual cookie contest draws together favorite cookie recipes from the St. Peter community and Gustavus students and staff, with over fifty groups and individuals competing over the last four years. Open to organizations, individuals and departments, the cookie contest allows for some friendly competition and the perfect setting to indulge in a Christmas tradition.

Along with the opportunity to try many different types of cookies, the chance at fame may counter that thought.

“There are tremendous bragging rights to making the college’s best Christmas cookies,” Johnson said.

Categories for cookie winners include: Best Taste, Best Decorated, Most Christmas-y, Most Swedish, Most to do with Trees and Most Original/Unusual Ingredient.

One of the students that is helping with the event is Senior Environmental Studies Major Nils Anderson. Like many other people Anderson is most excited for “all of the unique cookie decorations.”

Start your Christmas shopping with some of the hand crafted items that are available from the bazaar and welcome in the Christmas season by enjoying a variety of cookies in front of the fireplace with some friends at the Julgran Celebration because “nothing is better for a Gustie spirit than fresh cookies,” Anderson said.

To enter the cookie contest you must e-mail Shirley Mellema at to register by Nov. 28. You must submit forty regular sized cookies and the recipe by 2:00 p.m. on Dec. 1, 2011 so they can be sampled and judged during the celebration.