Christmas in Norway

Hvordan nordmenn feirer jul, sett fra engelsk synsvinkel.

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A Christmassy atmosphere

When it`s Christmas, the Norwegians go crazy. They eat rotten fish and sheephead with eyes and everything. They are so impatient that they can`t wait longer then until the 24th before they open their Christmaspresents.


I decided that I should spend my Christmas holiday in Norway, but it wasn`t like I expected. The Norwegians celebrate in a whole different way, than we do. I lived with a family in Nesodden, so I could ecperiemce a Norwegian Christmas. When I got into the house I smelled the scent of cinnamon, pine tree and ginger. The walls, the doors and the windows were covered with Christmas decorations and the Christmas tree lightened up the room. The whole house was filled with a Christmassy atmosphere. First I wanted to know more about the food, and I was very surprised when they told me what they usually eat for Christmas.



- Ah, today, on the twentythird we eat porridge with sugar, butter and cinnamon, the father in the family tells me in his broken English. And on Christmas Eve we eat “lutefisk”.

- What did you call it, lytfisck!?

- No, lutefisk. It´s cod treated with lye and boiled, of course, he laugh.

- And you´re actually supposed to eat it, not just look at it, I ask.

- It´s really good. We also eat pork ribs and potatoes, he adds.

- I think I will stick to the pork ribs.


Later that evening was it time to eat the lytfisck, or whatever it was called. I just sat up a polite smile and said that I wasn´t hungry.

The next day was it the Christmas Eve, and I got waked up by the mom at dawn.


Christmas Eve morning

- Hey, you must wake up, it´s time to eat breakfast, she said.

- Yes, yes, mom, soon, I muttered.

- I mean it, now, she said strict.


When I got down, the table was filled with food; cheese, sausage, ham, jam, brawn, bread, mustard, butter and something the Norwegians calls “lefse”, a thin pastry served, folded and spread with butter and other foods. It had a boring taste, but it wasn´t bad. Along the breakfast, the family told me that as soon the breakfast was finished, was it time to go to church. A lot of Norwegians don´t believe in God, but it´s a tradition to go to church.


Can anything be more boring

The time in the church went slowly, but I wasn´t the only on to think that. All around me, people yawned and looked at their watches. When the priest had spoke and said his prayer and the churchgoers had song (,not worth listening on), people went home.



Almost the time

When we got back, it was an excited and anxious atmosphere in the house. Every one just walked around and checked the time. Then, at five o´clock, I got the answer for this weird behaviour, it was time to open the Christmas presents. Everyone sat down in chairs around the tree, except for the father who went authoritative in front of the Christmas tree and picked out the presents. In Norway they are so impatient that they can´t wait to Christmas Day before they open their presents.


- It´s much better that way, one of the children say, with her mom as interpreter.

- But does the Santa Claus come today then? I ask surprised.

- No, we don´t have Santa Claus here, but a lot of my friends does, she say with the biggest matter of course.

-You don´t have Santa Claus. I could hardly believe what I heard. But he is so important. He is San Nicolas, the saint who gave to and helped the poor, but who comes with presents then?


-No one does, we just get them and open them, the little boy say.


When everyone had open their presents, I got a little humanoid figure with big ears which the Norwegians call “nisse”. It´s somekind of gnome. The Norwegians actually call Santa Claus Christmasgnome or “Julenisse”.


Last day, more food

The next day was it also early up to eat breakfast. And the table was if possible even more filled with food.


I thought about doing some shopping, what do you think about that, I asked the mother. She laughed and said: There is no point in that, in Norway the Christmas is family time, so all shops are closed. Everyone is home and celbrates Christmas and eat. I thought a bit of her answer and made up my mind, maybe the Norwegian way of celebrating Christmas isn´t as bad after all.

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