Christmas in Norway: A guide / Entertainment / The Foreigner

Christmas in Norway: A guide. I’ve always enjoyed the Norwegian Christmas; it’s much more than just a holiday, it’s an event. The first day of Advent with the lighting of the first candle means that the dark and seemingly endless month of November has passed. Ignoring the inevitable Christmas rush to secure the gifts, the country starts to close down, and it seems that Norwegians feel what was so desperately important last month can wait until the middle of January. “Call back next year”, so to speak. Here is a brief, but by no means exhaustive guide to the Yuletide season for you to peruse as we lay our plans for joining a gym in January:Adventslys

christmas, norway, norwegian, tradition, guide, food, drink,



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Christmas in Norway: A guide

Published on Wednesday, 9th December, 2009 at 19:09 under the entertainment category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 18th December 2009 at 13:40.

I’ve always enjoyed the Norwegian Christmas; it’s much more than just a holiday, it’s an event. The first day of Advent with the lighting of the first candle means that the dark and seemingly endless month of November has passed.

Kongens gate in Trondheim
Kongens gate in Trondheim
Photo: Einar Fredriksen/Wikimedia Commons


Ignoring the inevitable Christmas rush to secure the gifts, the country starts to close down, and it seems that Norwegians feel what was so desperately important last month can wait until the middle of January. “Call back next year”, so to speak.

Here is a brief, but by no means exhaustive guide to the Yuletide season for you to peruse as we lay our plans for joining a gym in January:

Adventslys

Four candles, normally purple in colour. One is lit every week starting on the first Sunday of Advent, so that by the Christmas Eve the candles are different heights. Some people use the poem by the Norwegian Poet Inger Hagerup. Each of the four Sundays has a different aspect: joy, hope, longing and peace.

Adventsstake

A tray or candleholder used for putting the candles on or in.

Akevitt

A strong drink of at least 40% by vol. suitable for washing the heavy food down. There are many flavours available for purchase, but all will set you back a bit thanks to the Norwegian alcohol laws. Not everyone drinks alcohol in this part of the country; so don’t take it for granted that you’ll get it everywhere.

“Hovmesteren”

A British black-and-white comedy sketch that is always shown on 23rd about a drunken butler and his Lady. As each imaginary person is toasted, both characters get progressively more pie-eyed as the evening goes on.

Julaften

Christmas Eve and when, contrary to Britain, the presents are opened.

Julebukk

A tradition where it’s mainly the children who dress up as a Pixie and ring the doorbells in the neighbourhood. When the door is opened, they sing and, hopefully, get either Christmas cakes or sweets.

If you are brave enough to do this as an adult, you might get a drink instead. It then ceases to matter what you look like.

Julekaker

This can mean anything from modest macaroons to gingerbread men. It’s traditional but not compulsory to bake seven different kinds, and don’t bother counting as it’s going on your waist anyway.

Julenek

A bundle of straw tied in a tree or to a lamppost that’s food for the birds. It’s best to put it near the window so that you can look at them.

Julenisser

Pixies are a very popular superstition in Scandinavian culture – normally dressed in grey clothes and a red hat; a bit like a garden gnome, but not in such bad taste – and are said to live out in the barn on farms.

Rumoured to like porridge, they’ll create havoc if not fed. An old tradition says that you should put the porridge out for them on Christmas Eve.

Juletre

A Christmas tree. Decorating is normally done on 23rd December (so called “lille juleaften”). Some people adorn the tree with small Norwegian flags, in addition to the tinsel etc.

Julesanger

Christmas songs. Many of the ones that are in use in Britain – such as “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells” can be heard here too. “A Great and Mighty Wonder” is also popular, but is “Det hev ei rose sprunge”.

If you feel like a good old Christmas singsong, there’s an ecumenical Service with English Christmas-carols in the Cathedral on 23rd this year at 18:00 in Stavanger cathedral.

Julestjerne

A red-leaved potted plant that is popular to give and buy.

Juletorsk

Cod (“torsk”) was a very popular Christmas dish in the days where Norway only had fishing to bring in the income before oil.

Lille juleaften

December 23.

Lutefisk

An extremely acquired taste, with the fish being put in caustic soda before it’s cooked. The jelly-like consistency is not as appetising as the accompanying dishes – purée of peas, bacon and potatoes.

The best thing that I can say about it is that it gives you an excuse to drink even more akevitt to drown the flavour.

Pinnekjøtt

This dish is popular in the west of the country, and is basically mutton-ribs. In a time where money was scarce, using as much of the animal for food was important. There are two varieties, ordinary salted, and smoked.

It’s not a good idea to forget to soak them in a bucket of fresh water at least 24 hours prior to serving them, as otherwise, they’ll taste awful. Served with mashed Swede – a very popular dish in Norway – and potatoes.

Ribbe

Pork ribs, with seasoned and grilled crackling. These are normally served with special smoked sausage, minced meat, and red cabbage. This dish is more popular in the east of the country.

Risengrynsgrøt med mandel

This is the porridge that the Pixies like. An almond is hidden at the bottom of one of the bowls – to get you to eat it all and make sure you can’t move quickly afterwards –– and whoever finds it, gets a prize of a marzipan pig.

Handing it round is optional, but expected.

Synger julen inn

Just before 5 o’clock on December 24 the church bells start to ring, announcing that Christmas has begun. The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s (NRK) Boy’s Choir – “Sølvguttene” – can be seen on TV singing traditional Christmas music.

”Tre nøtter til Askepott”

This is an old Czechoslovakian fable, and is a variant on “Cinderella”. It is shown on Christmas Eve, and is just part of the tradition. Ignore the hairstyles from the 70s.

Øl

Beer. Cheers!



Published on Wednesday, 9th December, 2009 at 19:09 under the entertainment category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 18th December 2009 at 13:40.

This post has the following tags: christmas, norway, norwegian, tradition, guide, food, drink, .





  
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