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Christmas

Take part in Norwegian holiday traditions
Christmas celebration in Norway is a true festival of lights that is full of events, with preparations and traditions that last a whole season. White snow and decorations add to the magic.
People walking in the snowy street during a Christmas market in Røros
Christmas shopping at Røros.
Photo: Thomas Rasmus Skaug / Visitnorway.com

The warmth from open fires. The sound of giggling children playing in the snow. And, of course, handmade gifts at numerous small and big Christmas fairs and markets.

In Norway the celebration and preparations for the holiday season begin early on, also with the baking of Christmas cookies (seven different kinds, at a minimum), buying Christmas gifts, and the significantly less fun act of cleaning houses and apartments.

A whole season of magic

And it says something about how the Norwegians stretch Christmas over a whole season, that in the city of Drøbak in Southern Norway, the popular Christmas House is open for visitors the whole year round. Many other cities and places start preparing for their own cosy events and fairs early on.

Christmas, called “jul” in Norway, actually predates the Christianisation of the country, and although we don’t know much about how the old heathens celebrated, we know that they used to sacrifice animals and drink beer. In other words, their rituals weren’t totally different from ours.

Pinnekjøtt
Pinnekjøtt.
Photo: matprat.no

Pre-Christmas is a time for socialising, and a lot of great restaurants serve typical Norwegian Christmas dishes, often with local ingredients. The menus usually consist of “ribbe” (pork ribs), “pinnekjøtt” (lamb ribs), or in some parts of Norway, cod. In bakeries, go for Norwegian Christmas cookies like “goro”, “krumkaker” or “berlinekrans”, and in supermarkets you can buy a fun do-it-yourself kit for building your own miniature gingerbread house.

On Christmas Eve (24 December) most Norwegians gather together for a traditional meal and the opening of presents, and sometimes the “Julenisse” (Santa Claus) will pay them a visit.

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Besides the many Christmas markets, a huge variety of Christmas concerts are held all over the country. Several hotels and restaurants keep their doors open, whilst some are closed from 24 to 26 December.

The whole country is an ongoing huge festival of lights that keeps on shining for weeks after New Year’s Eve to preserve that fairy tale spirit.

Go Christmas shopping

As in many European countries, most Norwegian towns and cities also have Christmas fairs and markets.

Most decorate the streets with lights and garnish, and some take it even further. In Bergen kindergartens, schools, businesses, and thousands of individuals have contributed to a gingerbread town every year since the Christmas of 1991.

A visit to the wooden town of Røros will probably put you in the right mood, whilst Tregaarden’s Christmas House in Drøbak is Scandinavia’s only permanent Christmas shop. Not far from Oslo, you’ll find Hadeland Glassverk where you can purchase handmade glass from local artisans.

Get inspired

A glimpse of Christmas in Norway

See what’s on during Christmas

Pick December dates to find concerts and fairs, as well restaurants with Christmas menus.

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