Thursday, 31 December 2009

Christmas in Norway


In Norway most everyone has either a spruce or a pine tree in their living room - decorated with white lights, tinsel, Norwegian flags and other ornaments for Christmas. The children make paper baskets of shiny, colored paper. The baskets can be filled with candy or nuts. Chains made of colored paper are also very popular. Colored lighting is becoming popular, but the white lights are more like the candles they are supposed to represent. Christmas trees became common in Norway from around 1900. The custom of having Christmas trees is originally from Germany.

Before the presents are opened, the family dances in a ring around the Christmas tree while singing traditional Norwegian Christmas carols.

Norway's traditional Christmas customs include Nisse, a gnome or an elf guarding animals. It is said in Norway that Nisse can have goat-like features (Christmas Buck, or Julebukk in Norwegian). Children get bowls of a certain type of porridge ready for him - if they don't, he will play tricks on them. How is that for a traditional story for Christmas in Norway?

The idea of Julebukk is a very old one and was most likely known by the Vikings. In earlier times during Christmas in Norway, one person dressed in goatskin (carrying a goat's head!) would come to the Christmas celebration unannounced and act as if they were dying shortly afterwards.

It did not take long for Christians in Norway (and the rest of Scandinavia) to associate the goat with the devil. They then used it only during celebrations and were later forbidden these customs by the church and government. A much tamed-down form of the tradition remains to this day.

For Christmas in Norway, there is a special holiday cookie called Sand Kager. In the afternoons, children go from door to door to ask for treats.

A nice, traditional Christmas dinner for Norwegians often consist of codfish, potatoes, porridge, gingerbread and Christmas punch. Have a good trip and a merry Christmas in Norway.


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