Are you planning a Christmas holiday in Norway? Great choice! Here is everything you need to know for an unforgettable adventure.
1. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. Where can I find snow?
The central parts of the country are always more snowsure than the coast, but Oslo and the surrounding eastern and central part of Norway often have snow at Christmas. The same applies to Northern Norway.
How best to enjoy the snow? Go skiing, of course! But there are plenty of other winter activities on offer, too.
2. Could you point me to the nearest Christmas market?
Just pick a direction. Norway is so full of wonderful Christmas markets that you could probably survive most of December on a diet of nothing but gingerbread cookies and mulled wine.
If you’re having trouble choosing, you’d be well advised to look at our guide to the best Christmas markets in Norway.
At the fairs, you’ll find a selection of anything from handcrafted products and culinary delicacies to woodwork, gingerbread towns, Ferris wheels, puppet shows, and pastries. Be aware that most fairs close up shop before Christmas Eve, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly.
3. Where can I buy last-minute gifts?
Don’t worry – Norway is pretty generous when it comes to breathless last-minute Christmas shopping. According to the law, shops can be open on the last three Sundays before Christmas Eve between 2 PM and 8 PM. On Christmas Eve, shops must close no later than 4 PM, and remain closed on the first and second day of Christmas.
This gives you a good opportunity to shop for a present. Many grocery store, shops, and shopping centres open on Sundays in December.
On Christmas Eve, it’s important to remember that many shops close earlier than 4 PM.
4. What is the best place to celebrate?
Whether you are longing for a quiet holiday in the mountains or some Christmas spirit in the cities, you are sure to find the perfect destination. Check out the magical options! below:
5. What can I get up to this Christmas?
Even though Norway does slow down quite a bit during the holidays, the nights are not completely silent. Whether you’re in the mood for a Christmas party or a Christmas mass, you can find a large selection of activities by browsing our event calendar.
If you’d rather relax and see a film, many cinemas remain open for most of the holidays, with the exception of Christmas Eve. And no, the films are not dubbed – unless it’s an animated film, in which case you might want to avoid Norwegian language screenings, marked norsk tale.
6. How long has Norway celebrated Christmas?
Christmas, in general, is a bit of sponge holiday that has soaked up bits and pieces from various cultures and traditions. Throughout history, it has been a celebration of anything from the god Saturn to the winter solstice.
The Christian version of the holiday was introduced gradually in Norway around the year 1,000. The Norse sacrificial feast jólablót (jól = jul, the Norwegian name for Christmas) coincided with the birthdate of Jesus on the 25th of December, a date that had already been moved from sometime earlier in the year to better match Roman holidays.
Our current Christmas tradition, as it is celebrated today with customs like Santa Claus and dancing around the Christmas tree, was first introduced in the 1800s.
7. Are the restaurants open?
Although Christmas is a time of rest and relaxation for a lot of chefs and waitstaff, there are still plenty of places that will welcome diners, especially in the cities.
As for ordering traditional Norwegian Christmas food, you can’t go wrong with “ribbe” (pork ribs) or “pinnekjøtt” which is cured lamb steamed over sticks (pinner). There are plenty of other culinary traditions, too, as seen in this classic Christmas food test, courtesy of the US embassy here in Norway:
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