Every country has its own unique Christmas traditions and Norway is no exception. In this article we will introduce you to our favourite Norwegian Christmas traditions that are sure to brighten your holidays as well!
1. Little Christmas Eve
In Norway, December 23rd is known as Lille Juleaften, which translates to Little Christmas Eve. Even though the main Christmas celebration takes place on December 24th, Christmas Eve, the 23rd is another day of importance in Norwegian Christmas traditions.
Many families in Norway have their own traditions on how to spend the evening of the 23rd, there are some activities that are typical all over Norway. These usually include decorating the Christmas tree, making and decorating gingerbread houses and also eating a variety of sweet Christmas treats.
2. A Tree Full Of Love
Speaking of Christmas Tree decorations: Of course round and star shaped ornaments are well known in Norway but the most popular tree decoration comes in the shape of a heart. Julekurver are small heart-shaped paper baskets that are filled with either small Norwegian flags or treats and then hung on the tree.
But make no mistake: Norway's love of heart-shaped decorations doesn't stop just there. Another favourite are heart-shaped gingerbread cookies that can be hung both on the tree and in the windows of homes and shops. And who doesn't love an edible decoration!
3. Christmas Markets Everywhere
Of course Norwegian Christmas traditions don't stop outside the home! As early as at the end of November, Christmas markets pop up all over Norway.
Whether it's Christmas in Winterland at Spikersuppa in Oslo or Julebyen in Egersund (which was voted Santa's hometown in Norway by listeners of NRK radio!), Norwegian Christmas markets are a feast for all senses. Traditional foods and craft work, mulled wine by the bucket, Christmas carols and the occasional reindeer sleigh: Christmas markets are a must see when you spend the festive season in Norway!
And just one extra special tip: Norway's sweetest Christmas market can be found in the country's second biggest city, Bergen. Each year since 1991 the whole city is recreated in gingerbread form - making it the biggest gingerbread town in the world - a spectacle that you can only experience when visiting Norway!
4. Pre-Christmas Parties
At this point I'm sure that we have all realized, that Norwegians like to extend their Christmas celebrations out as much possible!
So it doesn't come as a surprise that pre-Christmas parties are popular in Norway. These parties are called Julebord (literally translated as 'Christmas table') in Norwegian and are commonly celebrated within companies and organisations but also among groups of friends. Usually you reserve a table for the whole group in a restaurant or, more recently, it is also popular to celebrate Julebord in a club.
Julebord is a perfect opportunity to get together with your colleagues or friends and they make Norwegian nightlife in the pre-Christmas period just so much more lively!
5. Snacks and Candy
Everything including sweet indulgent treats has to be on our list of favourite Christmas traditions - and Christmas time certainly is high season for candy and sweets!
There are some traditional Christmas candies like glazed apples and burnt almonds that you will rarely find homemade, but you can find them at any Christmas market which just makes for the perfect excuse to go several times!
Something to find in most Norwegian homes around Christmas are bowls of nuts and chocolate that are perfect for some festive snacking.
However the most popular Christmas snack has to be Christmas marzipan (Julemarsipan). According to marzipan manufacturer Nidar, Norway's population of 5 million people consumes about 40 million marzipan figurines each year around Christmas! Nidar's marzipan recipe dates back to 1915 and the most popular varieties are small marzipan pigs and marzipan logs coated with chocolate.
Another popular activity around Christmas is to decorate your own marzipan pig in all kinds of ways: From reindeer pig all the way to a punker pig!
After all these fun and interesting traditions, we are sure that you are just burning to come to Norway and experience Christmas time here! If you want to get some first-hand knowledge from locals just what Christmas time is like in Norway, consider booking our Christmas market tour and you will get all the information you need - and taste some of the wonderful treats you just got to know in this article!
And for now, we would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and best wishes for the upcoming year! See you in 2021! ❤️