It’s that time of year again, Happy Holidays everyone! This will be my second Christmas actually spent in Norway, so I have learned a few things about how it is celebrated here, but I am sure I will discover new things this year. For those of you staying in town for the holidays, or those of you who are just curious about your host-country, I thought I’d revisit and update my holiday blogs past. Let’s start with an overview of the days of Christmas and some of the activities they might contain:
God Jul (Merry Christmas). Photo: Stand Hiestand
“Little Christmas Eve” is the 23rd of December. Decorations are hung and the Christmas tree is lit. I was told that an old British sketch, ‘Dinner for 1’, is extremely popular and viewing it may happen this day. The plot of the sketch consists of a butler pretending to be each of his employer’s 4 (dead) friends. He drinks a toast to her birthday as each friend with several courses of dinner. This sketch is so popular that there have been Norwegian reenactments (where they have actually tried to drink the alcohol involved!)
Here’s one of the remakes by Norwegians (there are others, some of which include vomiting…you can search those out yourselves if you need to 😉 ):
Christmas Eve. Christmas actually starts on Christmas eve — at 4 pm church bells announce the official start to Christmas. Christmas Eve is the main day of celebration. It is when, depending on where you are from in Norway, one might eat Pinnekjøtt (lamb ribs), Svineribbe (pork ribs) or Lutefisk (specially prepared dried cod), sing around a Christmas tree, and open presents. It is also the night to watch ‘Tre Nøtter til Askepott’ (Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella). ‘Tre Nøtter’ is a Czech film from the 70’s that was overdubbed/narrated by one increasingly enthusiastic Norwegian that was a hit on Norwegian TV and became a Christmas tradition.
‘Tre Nøtter til Askepott’. Image: http://www.hest.no/blog/?blid=530124
All the classics from Norway’s westcoast, pinnekjøtt, kålrabi (rutabaga mash) and poteter (potatoes). Image: http://ansgarscuisine.blogspot.no/2011/12/pinnekjtt-mkalrotstappe-saus-poteter.html
Christmas Day marks “the first day of Christmas”. Following are 20 days of juletid (Christmas time)!
Boxing Day (for the Brits) is called “Andre juledag” (the Second Day of Christmas) in Norway.
On the second day of Christmas… Image: http://www.goslingdesign.com/no-2-12-a-gift-on-the-second-working-day-of-christmas/
Between Boxing Day and New Years Eve is “Romjul” (Christmas Space), the ‘space’ between Christmas and New Years. Apparently in Romtid there (used to be) a pagan goat slaughter called Julebukk that eventually turned into a Halloween like wander to neighbors’ houses for treats in goat masks! Whaaaaaaaa. Sadly, the tradition is dying out.
Un-captionable. Image: http://www.sundeibk.no/ukategorisert/god-jul-godt-nyttar/
13th Day of Christmas, Three Kings Day, used as a “premature” end-of-Christmas party people who can’t wait to get rid of their Christmas tree.
The lights of Christmas. Photo: Stand Hiestand
13th January Christmas is the official end of christmas. Decorations/tree taken down. Final Christmas parties happen! ‘God jul‘ (Merry Christmas) may be used one last time.
Need more Norwegian Christmas spirit for your juletid?
Learn about Norwegian-Santa:
According to some websites, the present day “julenisse” is very similar to the American version of Santa. He has a sack of toys and visits children in their homes on Christmas eve asking if they are good. However, far more intriguing are the older stories of nisser.
A nisse, derived from the name Nils (Nicholas), is a mischievous gnome-like creature who protects farmsteads. Nisser were “paid” with a bowl of julegrøt (Christmas porridge) with butter on Christmas Eve. Apparently, nisser are porridge and butter-greedy. There is a legend that notes a trick a farmer played on a nisse one Christmas eve, hiding the butter for the nisse’s grøt (porridge) at the bottom of the bowl. When the nisse thought there was no butter on his Christmas porridge, he retaliated by killing the farmer’s best cow. Then, upon eating the porridge anyway and discovering the butter at the bottom of the bowl, he felt guilty and stole the best cow from the farmer’s neighbor in order to replace the murdered cow. Cuddly! Wanna learn more about nisser? Check out this blog, “There’s nothin’ Nisse couldn’t teach ya“.
Visit the Gingerbread City:
Pepperkakebyen (Gingerbread City) wandering around Pepperkakebyen is definitely a ‘koselig‘ holiday experience, and you still have a chance to see it up till New Year’s Day. Read about my first experience of Pepperkakebyen here. If you are planning ahead for next year, you can even submit your own gingerbread house to the city. Read more about the adventure of submitting your own gingerbread house here.
Still need more spirit? You might also check out this link for more weird Norwegian Christmasy-ness.