McKenzie County Continues Christmas Traditions
December 5, 2018 | View PDF
The Roundup spoke to Marcia Hellandsaas, the McKenzie County Extension Agent, about how the local area celebrates the Christmas Season in their own unique way. Hellandsaas explained that McKenzie County residents typically celebrate the holiday with family, food and generosity-filled traditions.
Hellandsaas explained, "We're a very generous community that remembers the people who struggle. We do have a pretty large population that struggles in the oil boom. In the Bakken, we always have people here who struggle."
She continued with the various ways the community comes together to help, saying, "We have the Blue Santa, which is in conjunction with law enforcement and the Eagle's Club and give away presents there for kids. Social services does a great job and gives a lot to families. The Salvation Army rings bells at Cash Wise, and we're looking for volunteers to ring the bells. That's a tradition we've had for many years."
Hellandsaas continued, "Another one is the Bakken Oil Rush and their Christmas celebration coming up. They have a program. They give away a lot of presents. They have surprises for folks who come. That is located out north of the Post Office. They sell at very reduced prices, things like clothing, furniture, household items, all kinds of things. Their celebration seems to be growing every year. It is thriving. They have a meal, too."
The Bakken Oil Rush Ministry is run by Pastor Jim Konsor and his wife, Kathie. The ministry hosts the annual event with volunteers and corporate sponsors from the community.
Speaking of such festive giving, Hellandsaas said, "I think a lot of our Christmas surrounds that kind of generous atmosphere."
Hellendsaas, who grew up in the southwest part of the state, explained her own family traditions. They mirror the mirth and rich tradition celebrated by the rest of the community.
"We get together with both sides of our families," Hellandsaas explained. "I think we're really traditional like a lot of local people and families. We have quite a few relatives here. There is a lot of family. We are Norwegians, so there are a lot of us and we have Norwegian food and a fun Norwegian meal. We get together and exchange gifts."
She explained further, "That's our Christmas Eve traditionally. We go to church services. That's another one that we do, a lot of our family members attend. There's Christmas Eve service, but also Christmas day services that many of us attend."
"There are also a lot of families for whom it's traditional to get together and bake. They bake lefse. It's very traditional to make that dish. I don't know if they do it any more, but they used to do it at the Legion, senior citizens would come together and make it and give it away to friends and family."
Hellandsaas also wanted to clarify that the holiday for most local residents wasn't just about family, food and philanthropy. It is also about the birth of Jesus.
She told The Roundup, "Well, I think we really have to think about the religious meaning. That's when Jesus was born, and it's to celebrate his birth. It's not all just about traditions and presents. It's about his birth. "