Pre-Christmas is a special time in Norway, as the shorter and darker days make for a very cozy time of year. Smoke can frequently be seen from the many chimneys around the country, and candles light up homes during the cold month of December.
As in many European countries, most Norwegian towns and cities also offer Christmas fairs and markets, seasonal concerts and performances during this time. There are many events and markets open to the public in Oslo, and Bergen is famous for its Gingerbread Town, holiday concerts and other festivities. The wooden town of Røros is a truly magic place to visit during the Christmas month, and Tregaarden's Christmas House in Drøbak is a must-see as Scandinavia's only permanent Christmas shop. Outside Oslo you'll find Hadeland Glassverk, where visitors can purchase handmade glass from local artisans.
According to Travel & Leisure Magazine, December issue 2009; Tromsø is one of the best places in the world to spend Christmas. A chance to view the Northern Lights and to say you've been to the Arctic Circle for Christmas. Visitors can enjoy dogsledding, great food, and a mountaintop cable car.
Create your own Northern Lights.
St. Lucia Day
Santa Lucia's Day, 13 December, is the first day of the Christmas celebration in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, and is also known as the shortest day of the year - winter solstice - under the old Gregorian calendar. It is one of the few saint days observed in Scandinavia. It was not until after World War II that the modern celebration of Lucia was imported to Norway from Sweden, and adopted on a larger scale. It is now again observed all over the country.
Lucia is mostly observed in kindergartens and schools. However, it has in recent years also been incorporated in the Advent liturgy in the Church of Norway, where visitors can watch processions.
Christmas in Norway is celebrated by most Norwegians with a big dinner on Christmas Eve following, or followed by, a Christmas service in one of the many churches around the country. Dinner usually consists of pork or lamb ribs, or in some parts of Norway; cod. Dinner is served with boiled potatoes, sausages, meatcakes and lingonberries. Traditionally, the meal is accompanied by Norwegian beer and aquavit.
Children often have a hard time sitting through the meal, due to great anticipation of what's to come after dinner; opening of gifts, and sometimes even a visit from the "Julenisse" (Santa Claus) himself.
On Christmas Day, most families have a big brunch at noon or dinner in the afternoon. Visitors should bear in mind that most shops and businesses remain closed as of midday 24 December through to 26 December.
Learn more about Christmas food in Norway