Arts & Culture

It’s All Jul: Norwegian Christmas Traditions

For the past yew years, I have had the joy of celebrating Christmas in Norway. I love it. It’s pure magic to be surrounded by mountains and guaranteed snow. Some Norwegian Christmas traditions are reminiscent of the Danish celebration, but there are many that are completely unique – and totally lovely!

These are the Norwegian Christmas traditions you should know about:

Flåklypa Grand Prix

This animated movie from 1975 (called Pinchcliffe Grand Prix in English) has a mythic status in Norway. Kids as well as grown-ups love to watch it during the Christmas holiday on Norwegian television. It’s considered a must-watch, and I understand why!

The plot: an inventor and his friends, a penguin and a hedgehog, build a race car for an oil sheik. A little weird? Yes! But this movie is amazing.

The music, written by the Danish composer Bent Fabricius-Bjerre, is great. More than one band has been inspired; you might recognise the title melody in the Norwegian hip-hop duo Multicyde’s “Not for the Dough” from 1999 or Blue’s “All Rise” from 2001.

 
 

Skihopp

Norwegians love skiing and ski jumping like no one else in the world. Winter is the high season for skiing and you can watch it on television all Christmas, if you want. The grand finale is the Ski Jumping World Cup in Oslo’s Holmenkollen on the 1st of January. Even if you don’t know the rules or any of the competitors, you can feel Norway’s enthusiasm for this nationally-beloved sporting event (and those jumps are AMAZING!).

Here are last year’s women’s and men’s winners:

 
 

“O Jul med din Glede”

“O Jul med din Glede” (“Oh Christmas with your Joy”) is one of my favorite Norwegian Christmas carols. It’s considered a kids’ song, but the joy of it makes grown-ups sing along too. And singing is not enough: you must do the moves! As the lyrics say: clap your hands, sing and laugh, and curtsey and bow.

 
 

Go to church

On Christmas Eve (24th of December), Norwegians flocks to church. In my experience, almost all Norwegians, Christian or not, go to church to meet with other locals and to sing Christmas carols before the big Christmas dinner in the evening.

 
 

Julebord

Julebord (Christmas party) is one of the great Christmas traditions in Norway. You gather together with friends, colleagues or family to eat all day and night. It seems that the main goal for the evening is to get so drunk that you (almost) can’t find your way home. This is a similar tradition to the Danish Julefrokost.

 
 

Decor

It’s typical to DIY your own Christmas decorations around the home – it’s a very personal and creative thing. Pixies made out of toilet paper rolls are proudly on display. This homemade aspect really showcases how kids are the focus of Christmas. The adventsstake is very common, as well as hanging stars lights in the window.

 
 

Pinnekjøtt and rømmegrøt

Pinnekjøtt (stick meat) and the rømmegrøt (sour cream porridge) are the two most Norwegian Christmas foods available. Pinnekjøtt is lamb or mutton and the preparation can be a really long process. Curing, drying and sometimes smoking is done before the meat is soaked in water and steamed on birch sticks over water in a large saucepan. The rømmegrøt is similar to Danish risengrød or Ris a l’Amande. It’s a sweetened porridge topped with a knob of butter and cinnamon, and is eaten hot. Norwegians love it, and with ingredients like that it’s easy to see why!

 
 

Jul I Blåfjell

This Norwegian Christmas TV-show has been extremely popular with children since its premiere in 1999. Kids have the joy of watching one episode per day from the 1st to the 24th of December. Jul I Blåfjell (Christmas in the Blue Mountain) is a wonderful Christmas fairytale that, in true Norwegian style, includes pixies wearing blue Christmas hats.

Keen to learn about other Scandinavian Christmas traditions? Find out about Danish and Swedish ones too!

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