Christmas traditions in Norway

Hi everyone

Funnily enough, quite a few of my Indian friends asked me almost at the same time about how Christmas is celebrated in Norway. So maybe it is time for a quick post about Norway. Christmas is not celebrated in most over India, as most people here are Hindus. Those Christians who are here are mostly Catholics, and I do think there are quite some differences between how Catholics and Protestants, which is most common in Norway, celebrates Christmas.

In Norway I think it is fair to say that Christmas starts around 1st of December, even if my dad starts the presentation a few months earlier. One of my first memories of Christmas is the Christmas calendar. It is a big calendar that you hang on the wall, and it has 24 days. From 1st to 24th of December. Kids are allowed to open one gate every day, and mostly you will get a small chocolate, a small toy or something like that. This is to ease the hunger for the Santa Claus to come.

Here you can see one home made callendar, where there are some small gifts wrapped in and one for each day.
One other common tradition is the Christmas cookies. Traditionally it was said that each good housewife had to make seven different kinds! This year I have made one, and am quite happy with that. And most of my colleagues really enjoyed the ginger breads, so that was very good.

One important part of the “pre Christmas celebration” is the Saint Lucy’s Day, which is celebrated at the 13th of December. In traditional celebrations, Saint Lucy comes as a young woman with lights and sweets. It is one of the few saint days observed in Scandinavia. In some forms, a procession is headed by one girl wearing a crown of candles (or lights), while others in the procession hold only a single candle each. This day is very popular in the schools and kindergartens.

In Norway it is the 24th that is the main Christmas day. It is quite common to go to church in the morning. At our home we also always have Christmas porridge for lunch. It is common to put an almond in the porridge. The one who finds that got a price. Most often the price is a marzipan pig! For me who loves marzipan that is just great. So if anyone in India can get me some marzipan, let me know.

Christmas Eve most often starts around 5 pm. And do remember that in Norway it is dark at that time of the day. This is the time when the domestic peace is there and everyone sits together and has a very nice meal. What we eat can differ from place to place in the country, but it is most often the same that is being served every year. In my family pork is the tradition, while others have rack of lamb ribs. Fish is also common in some places in the country.

After dinner it is the best part of the day for the kids: opening of presents! I really think that the Christmas present hysteria has gone too far in Norway. I have seen kids at 1-2 years who get just too much presents. Some of them don’t even know what to do, where to look, and some might even get scared of all things around them.

In the days following Christmas it is tradition to visit family and friends. Quite a few people in Norway take a vacation for the whole week between Christmas and New Years Eve.

For me, Christmas will be quite different this year, as I will be in Chennai, at the southernmost part of India. Not any snow, and I think pork or lamb is not really the kind of meal to expect there. But it will be fun, seeing some people I have not seen for a long time.

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

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