Christmas celebration in Norway is a true feast of lights, full of events, preparations, and traditions that last a whole season. White snow and decorations add to the magic.
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, usually the last weekend in November, with the baking of Christmas cookies (seven different kinds, at a minimum), shopping for Christmas gifts, and going to at least one cheerful Christmas concert.
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.
On Christmas Eve (24 December) most Norwegians gather for a traditional meal and the opening of presents, and sometimes Father Christmas will pay them a visit.
All in all, 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.
In addition to the many Christmas markets, there are a huge variety of Christmas concerts all over the country. Several hotels and restaurants keep their doors open, while some are closed from 24 to 26 December. And if you want to hit the slopes during your stay, pick a hotel in the mountains or near a ski resort.
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.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Read up on everything Norwegians do and eat before and during the holiday season.
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