God Jul! We’re bringing you 25 things you need to know about Christmas in Norway.
1. Many Norwegians opt to spend the Christmas holiday period at their hytte (mountain cabin) with family and friends.
2. Little Christmas Eve, December 23, is a special occasion in Norway! This day is about family time and preparing for Christmas, with common activities being Christmas tree and gingerbread house decorating, as well as cleaning.
3. British comedy sketch Grevinnen og Hovmesteren, Dinner for One, by author Lauri Wylie, is a holiday favorite in Norway. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) has broadcasted a version of the sketch for around three decades every Little Christmas Eve.
4. Another holiday classic program is Three Gifts for Cinderella. NRK has aired this movie every Christmas Eve since 1975. Originally released in Czech and German, the film is shown in Norwegian by NRK.
5. Christmas Eve is actually the main event in Norway. Instead of Christmas Day, December 24 is when families and friends gather and feast together.
6. Families with children, in particular, still participate in the traditional Norwegian dance or walk around the Christmas tree. It’s exactly what it sounds like – and it usually happens shortly after the big feast.
7. After that, presents are commonly opened on Christmas Eve night, not Christmas Day!
8. What’s considered “traditional” Christmas food on your julebord (Christmas table) can greatly vary, depending on where you are in Norway.
9. Western Norway likes pinnekjott, dried mutton ribs which are often served with mashed kohlrabi and potatoes.
10. Northern Norway is also known for eating pinnekjott during the holidays, or traditional Arctic cod.
11. Eastern and central Norway usually enjoys ribbe, pork ribs.
12. Wondering where lutefisk fits into a Norwegian Christmas? Actually, it normally doesn’t – if you’re in Norway, that is. This unique fish dish is more commonly eaten by Norwegian communities in the United States.
13. Juleøl, Christmas beer, is a Norwegian staple during December. Find our full guide to this awesome ale here.
14. Another Christmas drink in Norway is Juleaquavit, Christmas aquavit. This is a festive take on aquavit, a distilled, herb-flavored spirit popular in Scandinavia. Aquavit’s holiday edition is usually spiced up with extra Christmas flavors.
15. Wine lovers can opt for gløgg, the Scandinavian answer to mulled wine. Think warm wine, aromatic spices, and, if you’re sipping in Norway – sliced almonds and raisins served right in the glass.
16. Kids and non-drinkers can enjoy julebrus, Christmas soda. This tasty soft drink usually comes in red, or in brown, beer-like colors. Many breweries in Norway offer julebrus alongside their juleøl.
17. A little bit of history… Before jul meant Christmas, it denoted a period of celebration observed between November and December. It marked the end of the laborious autumnal harvest. Jul was the time to celebrate and down horn upon horn of juleøl’s pagan predecessor.
18. Nisse, a gnome-like being, are Norse mythological creatures often used in Christmas decorating today. You might also see on a postcard – or you might just see one snooping around the garden (but don’t worry; these are good creatures).
19. Santa Claus himself is similar to the gift-bearing nisse, the Julenisse, in Norway!
20. One of the world’s most iconic Christmas spectacles is actually a gift from Norway. The country sends the UK a grand Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square each year.
21. And that’s not the only gift sent from Norway to the UK – Norwegian Christmas trees illuminate other UK cities, like Edinburgh, as well.
22. For four Sundays leading right up to Christmas, many Norwegians light traditional Advent wreaths and their four candles.
23. On Christmas Day, having a large buffet brunch is common. This makes up the bulk of the action and gatherings on December 25. So, God Jul and god appetitt, too!
24. If not before, after Christmas Day, Norway’s major cities largely empty out.
25. Romjulen is the period between Christmas Day and the New Year. This is a time to relax and spend time with family. Shops are usually closed or work with limited times, while many Norwegians escape to the countryside for skiing or sledding.
Source: Norway Today