"Gledelig Jul" or "God Jul" is how you would normally be greeted on Christmas Day in Norway. The word Jul or jol is the name of a month, in the ancient Germanic calendar, that usually falls between mid December and mid January. Christmas season in Norway is a five-week-long celebration that is divided in to five stages viz., Advent, Julaften, Romjul, Nyttar, and Epiphany. Modern yuletide celebrations in the country are normally celebrated according to the liturgical year, otherwise known as the church year. Despite the new-age influences, celebrations in Norway continue to sport a blend of pre-reformation and pre-Christian facets that help retain the old culture. Just like in many other parts of northern Europe, celebrations in Norway also include ancient traditions, delicious local recipes and a month long host of parties and events. The following lines guaranty to surprise you with some interesting customs and traditions that are commonly practiced in the region.
Norwegian Christmas Customs
Read about Christmas in Norway and Norwegian Christmas customs and traditions associated with it.
Christmas In Norway
- The Advent phase begins four Sundays before Christmas Eve. It involves the announcement of Christmas by lighting of the candles to start this phase, also called the first phase, and mark the passing of this first phase by lighting even more candles later. The Advent is a stage which reflects the awaiting of Christ’s birth.
- 24th December is the day when the festivities commence but it is still considered to be a regular working day until 4 o’ clock in the afternoon. The celebrations begin with the ringing of the church bells from 5 PM to 6 PM before the mass starts.
- The evening brings with it, the narration of the Christmas stories from the book of Luke, in the Bible, and a traditional meal. The meal consists of dishes such as roasted pork ribs, "pinnekjøtt" (lamb ribs) and "lutefisk" (cod), served fresh or poached.
- Many families follow the tradition of keep a large serving of rice porridge outside for ‘Nisse’, who is known to play pranks on the animals in the barn. This is usually done on the eve of Christmas in order to please him.
- Many Norwegians do not feel the Christmas spirit has set in until they watch their favorite Christmas television programs like Three Nuts for Cinderella, From All of Us to All of You, The Journey to the Christmas star, and the play of Putti Plutti Pott & Santa's Beard.
Christmas Traditions in Norway
- On Christmas Day, early morning church services rarely take place. These services are usually conducted late in the morning after breakfast. A traditional breakfast, normally including rice porridge, is served. This porridge contains a single almond and, whoever finds it is declared a winner and is rewarded.
- After services at the church, the families get together for an elaborate traditional meal in the afternoon, which include a cookie Sand Kager and cakes. Many also visit the graveyards to pay their respect to the souls of their loved ones.
- Gifts are usually opened after the customs of carol-singing and dancing around the Christmas tree are completed.
- Unlike in other countries where Santa is often seen sliding down the chimney to leave gifts, in Norway, Santa comes to give the gifts in person. It’s been said that if a child has behaved well during the year he/she receives the gift from Julenissen (Santa) or else it is stored under the Christmas tree.