Initially, Christmas was not celebrated in Norway until the 10th and 11th centuries. Before then, people celebrated yuletide in the middle of the winter, and drank beer in honor of the Norse gods, waiting for the warmer weather to return. But today Christmas is celebrated in a grand way and I was a part of the celebrations this year in my Norway tour which made my year really special.
The special Christmas celebrations
I participated in the following celebrations in Norway at Christmas to experience the real fun of being there in Christmas and enjoying the season:
1- Lighting Advent candles on Sundays – Advent is preparation time before Christmas which starts four Sundays before Christmas. Every Sunday up until Christmas Day is celebrated by lighting a four-candle candelabra. The first candle is lit on first Sunday, the second candle on second Sunday, and so on. I did the same and it really gave me some peace.
2- Decorate with nisser – A nisse is a mythological creature from Scandinavian folklore, which could be compared to a garden gnome or a goblin. A nisse is present in farmhouses to act as a guard for people living there. They also help in household chores. They appear as small creatures resembling old men with long beards and red conical caps. They were believed to be the ‘soul’ of the first person living in the property. Today they appear in Christmas tales, decorations, and cards. I saw the nisser decorated in every nook and corner of Norway. I even got home nisser drawn cards and decorations as a souvenir.
3- Stay in on Lille Julaften – Norwegians celebrate Lille Julaften, or Little Christmas Eve on 23 December. At this time family cleans house and decorate the house and Christmas tree. Family members also decorate their home with pepperkakehus which they don’t eat before the end of Christmas season. I got to opportunity to visit a Norwegian family to experience this pleasurable scenes of Christmas celebration.
4- Dance around the Christmas tree on Julaften – People usually hold hands and dance around the Christmas tree while singing the most famous song is Så går vi rundt om en enebærbusk, meaning ‘here we go round a mulberry bush.’ I really enjoyed doing this, in a Christmas carnival and made me remember my childhood days.
5- Eat traditional Scandinavian food – Risengrynsgrøt is Norwegian rice porridge usually prepared for lunch on Christmas day. It is served with sugar and cinnamon and a dab of butter in the center. It is hidden in a large pot, the person who finds it receives a gift. This dish is served in almost all places in Norway. I too decided to try out the dish, and really enjoyed the flavors it had. It is a must to have this Christmas special dish in Norway.
6- Drink Akevitt – Akevitt, comes from the Latin aqua vitae, meaning ‘water of life’. It’s a traditional distilled drink which contains 40% alcohol, drunk almost exclusively at Christmas. I was truly enchanted by this spirited drink. A true Christmas celebration enchanting drink is a must in the wintry season.
This is how Christmas is celebrated in a grand way in Norway. A visit to Norway in Christmas and being part of their Christmas celebrations is a great feeling indeed.