Norwegian Christmas traditions

Preparations for the Christmas Holiday is mostly taking place during December. Most children have their "Christmas calendar" with a little numbered window to open each day. Usually it's a nice picture - or even a small piece of chocolate. Some, with a skill in handicrafts,  even sew a calendar and attatch a small parcel for each day. 

The Christmas tree (usually a real one) is decorated in the afternoon of December 23rd. Electric candlelights, small norwegian flags, homemade paper-baskets are used, in addition to ordinary decorating stuff. The parcels are usually placed under the tree late in the evening when the children are asleep.

Lots of children hang up a stocking in the livingroom (not every flat or house have a real fireplace anymore.......) and get up very early on Dec. 24th. to see if Santa has been there with some small gifts. (and so they will be occupied during the day).

Norway is celebrating the "Christmas Eve", on December 24th. According to old traditions a meal of "Christmas rice-porridge" is due at lunchtime. Often an almond is hidden in the porridge. The lucky one to find it, gets a marcipan pig or a chocolate as reward. (quite a clever way to make children eat their porridge !) Most people go to church at 4pm. And at 5pm. all churchbells in Norway are chiming for "Christmas Peace".

Christmas dinner varies throughout the country; pork, steamed cod or  - the very norwegian "pinnekjøtt" (smoked and dried ribs of sheep). Mostly this food is strong - and therefore "neutralized" with beer and the traditional norwegian "Aquavite" (a very strong liqueur made from potatoes). But traditions are weakening - and young couples have a tendensy to change into a more international menue. 

For dessert most people have the traditional norwegian "Multebær" / Cloudberries - (yellow berries growing in the mountains )- very expensive and hard to find, or a dessert made from cold riceporridge and whipped cream, served with a red fruitsauce.

As the Christmas dinner is "highlight" for adults, they often create a "nightmare" for the children, longing to open all the gifts placed under the tree. When the adults, after a looooooong dinnertime, want to clear the table, wash the dishes and serve coffe and all the special "Christmas cookies", childrens patience is vanishing very quickly . (in addition they're supposed to be specially nice, if they shall have a chance of getting anything !) 

I suppose every norwegian person have experienced the "sha'nt we open the gifts now ?"  Lots of children are visited by Santa (while dad or an uncle is "out for a minute".) Then all the gifts are handed out, and for the rest of the Christmas Eve children are playing with their new toys, while adults are relaxing, drinking coffe, softdrinks and eating cookies and other stuff. The "Peace of Christmas" has at last arrived.

On Dec. 25th. (1. day of Christmas) a lot of people go to church at 11 am. Most families sleep late in the morning and have a "Christmas brunch" ;  a lunch containing lots of delicious food. Children are mostly occupied with their new toys. For adults this "brunch" can last most of the day. On the 2. day of Christmas people often take a walk in the snowy paths, children trying out their skies, skates etc. This is the day for visiting family for dinner in the evening. The 3. day of Christmas is not a holiday, but lots of people take a vacation from Christmas to New Year.

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