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Christmas in Norway and National Traditions

In the second part of December, the streets of Oslo get noisier and more crowded, as people get busy with their pre-Christmas shopping and gift-seeking adventures. Many Norwegian cities become occupied by Christmas markets, where people are able to buy handmade gifts or delicious food. Besides, Christmas concerts typically take place right near or even on the markets. All in all, Christmas in Norway is, genuinely, a time of magic, when Norwegians – despite all the ado with Christmas preparations – become happier and get a chance to spend a great deal of time with their families.

Christmas in Norway and Pre-Christmas Preparations

norway christmasAs Advent starts and Christmas is looming, the streets of Norwegian cities, towns, and even villages become adorned with Christmas trees and lighting. The central squares become more crowded and bustling, as they typically host Christmas concerts and markets, attended almost by every local. Christmas markets are a good place for purchasing gifts and breathing in the air of the Christmas atmosphere.

“Jul” (which means “Christmas” in Norwegian) is a mix of Christian and pagan traditions in Norway, so you shouldn’t be too surprised if you find out that the celebration of this holiday in Norway noticeably differs from the celebrations in other countries. It is typical to hold pre-Christmas parties in companies and organizations, and there is even a word for such parties: “julebord.” During Advent, you may surprisingly observe that people jam in lots of clubs and bars.

“Little Christmas Eve” in Norway

Little Christmas Eve (23rd December) is actually a day before the real Christmas Eve, but this day is quite special for the majority of the Norwegians. On this day, Norwegians gather at home together and spend time adorning the Christmas tree, decorating the house, or cooking genuine Christmas meals. One of such meals is risengrynsgrøt, a meal somewhat similar to a rice pudding dressed with butter, sugar, and cinnamon. There is a custom connected with this meal: it contains an almond hidden inside, and you will get a marzipan pig if you will be the one to find it.

Norwegian Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is the most important day of the Christmas celebration for the Norwegians. While Norwegians tend to be in ado in the first part of the day, cooking Christmas meals, decorating the house, or rushing to buy presents, every family gathers at the table at five o’clock. Typically, almost every Norwegian celebrates Christmas with the family at home.

After the dinner comes to an end, everyone rushes to the Christmas tree, under which the presents were placed. In Norway, the gifts are brought by Santa Claus (who is called Julenissen in Norwegian) or gnomes (who are called Nisse in Norwegian). Children who pick up their presents from under the Christmas Tree read aloud the letters they have received along with the gifts. Norwegian houses may also feature such decorations as trolls or hobgoblins.

Christmas Eve (24th December) is the day when you are unlikely to meet someone outside – the majority of people are home and busy celebrating this holiday with their family members.

Christmas in Norway: The Time Between Christmas and New Year

Actually, the time between 24th and 30th December is, indeed, the period when people gather at each other’s homes and celebrate the passed and looming winter holidays. People also tend to go out in the evening, so the life outside is quite brisk. Every day after Christmas Eve, Norwegians light a candle at their homes – it happens every day until the New Year comes.

Christmas in Norway: Food and Drinks

Risengrynsgrøt, which has been already mentioned above, is an ancient, traditional dish of the Norwegians, and it is believed that the barn gnome eats this dish. In many towns and villages, people place a bowl of risengrynsgrøt outside, so the barn gnome can eat along with them.

Among the common dishes at the Christmas table in Norway, there are such meals as turkey, ham roast, boiled cod, pinnekjøtt (dry-cured lamb ribs), lutefisk (cured cod), and ribbe (pork belly or pork ribs). Besides, there is also a Christmas beer that Norwegians fancy to drink during the Christmas time – this drink is sold only beginning from November.

Many people fancy Christmas in Germany because of the market and abundance of small townhouses where one may taste Glühwein. Well, you can do it also in Oslo, but, instead of Glühwein, you will be served gløgg. Gløgg is a warm and spicy drink made of red wine, even though there is a non-alcohol version of this drink (and this version tends to be even more popular). When drinking this spicy beverage, you should definitely do it while eating pepperkake (a cookie made of gingerbread) along.

By the way, you can learn here how to visit Oslo on a budget, as well.

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