International Student Blog

It’s Christmas, it’s Christmas, in Norway

Happy Holidays everyone! In honor of Christmas time I thought I’d share with you all some things I’ve learned from the first Christmas I’ve actually gotten to spend in Norway.

img_3184God Jul (Merry Christmas). Photo: Stand Hiestand

After my first taste of pinnekjøtt and getting a bit confused about what constitutes the first, second, and third day (and so on) of Christmas (we only have Christmas eve and Christmas day where I’m from) I decided to do a little digging, and – wow! – there was even more to learn about Norwegian Christmas than I expected. Here’s an overview of the days of Christmas and some of the activities they might contain:

December 23rd

“Little Christmas Eve” is the 23rd of December. Decorations are hung and the Christmas tree is lit. I was told that watching an old British sketch, ‘Dinner for 1’, is also extremely popular and said viewing 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 😉 ):


December 24th

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, for example, one might eat one’s pinnekjøtt (lamb ribs), sing around a Christmas tree, and open presents. It is also the night to watch ‘Tre Nøtter til Askepott’ (Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella), 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:


pinnekjottAll the classics, pinnekjøtt, kålrabi (rutabaga mash) and poteter (potatoes). Image:


December 25th

Christmas Day marks “the first day of Christmas”. Following are 20 days of juletid (Christmas time)! Since there are 20 days of juletid, I guess my blog post is still in plenty of time for the Christmas holiday!

December 26th

Boxing Day (for the Brits) is called “Andre juledag” (the Second Day of Christmas) in Norway.


On the second day of Christmas… Image:


December 27th-31st

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.

julebukk-2Un-captionable. Image:


January 6th

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.

img_3164The lights of Christmas. Photo: Stand Hiestand


January 13th

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? You might check out this link, read about Pepperkakebyen (Gingerbread city), or even Christmas nisse (Christmas gnomes)!


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