Friday, 23 December 2016

God Jul! Christmas in Norway

For the majority of Norwegians, Christmas is the most favorite and honored holiday. "Merry Christmas" in Norwegian is "God Jul!", however the etymology of the word "jul" is still unclear.

God Jul! Christmas in Norway

In Norway, the tradition of jul (or jol) dates back to the pre-Christian, pagan times when during the darkest season the ancestors of modern Norwegians asked pagan gods to return the sun. The fest itself was quite amusing, with a lot of people, beer and viands.

The majority of Norwegians start to prepare for the fest four weeks before the holiday itself – in the time of Advent (adventtiden). People buy presents to their relatives and friends, plan their Christmas dinner and decorate their houses. Traditionally they perform a huge home clearance.

Norwegian Father Christmas is called Julenissen, Christmas gnome. People cook for him porridge – julegroet. Full up and happy, Julenissen brings presents to children. He wears a red hat and has a long white beard.

God Jul! Christmas in Norway

Norwegians spend a fortune for the presents to their children, relatives and friends. Although it is difficult to tell what present is the most popular, children know that gifts can be of two types – "soft" and "hard" (blote / harde pakker). And they rush to open "hard" packets first as children everywhere prefer new toys to new clothes.

Another Norwegian tradition is to send postcards to their relatives, friends and colleagues. Usually it is accompanied with a family photo, picture of kids, pets or a sender himself or herself.

God Jul! Christmas in Norway

Christmas is normally spent at home with family. Unlike other countries, in Norway people do not go out in the Christmas night, they prefer to be at home with their families, sing Christmas songs and carols and, maybe, reel around the Christmas tree.

Christmas dinner is of course the central part of the holiday. In good old times the table offered at least seven kinds of Christmas cookies (julekaker), scones of flour and water paste (flatbrod) as well as home-made beer. Christmas cookies are still a traditional Norwegian treat, however nowadays people do not bake more than two or three kinds, or they simply buy it in shops. Christmas beer can also be bought in a shop.

God Jul! Christmas in Norway

However other dishes are still made at home. Traditional Norwegian Christmas food includes marinade herring and cold pork roll, pork ribs baked in an oven (ribbe), minced patties (medisterkaker) or sausages (medisterpolser), braised lamb ribs (pinnekjott) and of course lutefisk. Traditionally the dishes are accompanied with potato or turnip puree.

God Jul! Merry Christmas! 

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