Dec 14, 2010

Norwegian Christmas

Christmas is coming closer, and in Norway, most celebrations traditionally ‘begin’ on the 13th of December. 

The reason celebrations ‘start’ on the 13th of December is because of St. Lucias day, typically a Swedish tradition, it is still celebrated in Norway (and indeed, even in Denmark, Finland and Iceland to a point). There is a lot of ceremony involved in this, and it involves the serving of “lussekatter” (lucia buns) by children to their parents. Each town or even family can vary in the different ways they celebrate this, if they do at all, but the core ideas remain mostly the same, and this generally marks the beginning of the ‘Christmas Season’ in Norway. 

The Norwegian word for Christmas is ‘Jul’ (Yoohl). Like most countries, they have a Christmas tree (Juletre) which can be decorated with tinsel, lights, beads and glass balls, pepperkaker (ginger bread) and most importantly, Norwegian flags! 
Plain Norwegian Pepperkakker
The real celebrations begin on the 24th, Christmas eve, which most view as the most important part of the season. Most families get together for a traditional meal to celebrate, with some of the more common foods including lutefisk, pinnekjøtt, julepølser and medisterkaker. These Christmas family dinners can continue from December all the way through to new years (Romjulen). 

Julebrus has many variations
Julebrus is also something which is associated with Norwegian Christmas, it is a ‘festive’ soft drink likely made so that minors could have something to drink while the older members of the family would drink alcoholic beverages. Now, however, Julebrus is popular among Norwegians of all ages and huge quantities of it are sold throughout Norway during  the Christmas season. 

I don’t know if you did this wherever you’re reading this from, but when I was a kid we left out cookies and milk for Santa (later to discover it was my father eating them, not Santa) and in Norway, it is not unusual to leave out a traditional porridge dish (lillejulaften) for Julenissen (the equivalent of Santa Claus), though I strongly suspect that the father will be eating that when the children are asleep.

One interesting thing is that Norwegians are taxed half as much during Christmas time as an incentive from the Norwegian government, perhaps to encourage spending and also give their part to the Christmas spirit.
Norwegian kids celebrating. The girl with the candles is dressed
in the traditional outfit for St. Lucias day.
In Norway, the way of saying 'Merry Christmas' is God jul (Gooh yoohl) and when the new year comes around, godt nyttår (gooht nytohr) 

So, god jul og godt nyttår! Hopefully you get lots of expensive presents! 

1 comment:

  1. Norwegian's celebrate christmas? They're finally catching up I guess