Julemåneden er nesten her. (The Xmas month [= December] is almost here.) Like many Norwegian shops, your blogger kan ikke vente med å pynte til jul (can’t wait decorating for Christmas). Here’s a typical November pre-launch of a julekalender (Xmas calender) with 24 sweets, one for each day until julaften. But don’t click the first one until tomorrow! 🙂
An adventskrans is a wreath with 4 lys (candles). On each of the 4 pre-Christmas Sundays (this period is known as advent), a new candle is lit (1 candle in total on the first Sunday, 2 on the second etc.).
Nisser are important creatures of Norwegian folklore. They don’t quite exist in English-speaking countries, but can maybe be thought of as pixies. They wear red luer (caps), and the Xmas ones are called julenisser (of course!)
During December, many people visit julemarkeder (Xmas markets). In Oslo, the Norwegian capital, there are several, and they usually sell hot gløgg (a kind of mulled wine with raisins – often without alcohol) for people to keep warm.
Has your family bought a juletre (Xmas tree) yet? Most Norwegian homes have one, and it’s placed in the sitting room. It’s mostly a gran (spruce), but in some parts of Western Norway it can also be a furu (fir-tree).
Christmas is celebrated by the majority of people in Norway, and far from all of them are active Christians. (The word jul is older than the Christian religion in Norway; for the Vikings, Yule was a celebration of light.) Still, the religious link is important to a lot of people, who decorate their homes with things like engler (angels) and julekrybber (nativity scenes).
Grøt (porridge) plays a huge role in Norwegian Christmas. At festive events risgrøtmed smør, sukker og kanel (rice porridge with butter, sugar and cinnamon) is enjoyed. In the countryside, some people still place a bowl of porridge outside for nissen (the pixie).
A typical Norwegian tradition is to hide a mandel (almond) in either porridge or riskrem (sweet rice porridge mixed with cream). The lucky eater who can show the almond to the others gets a mandelgave (”almond gift”). This is very often a marsipangris (marzipan pig).
For julaften (Xmas eve) on the 24th, a lot of mat (food) has to be prepared. What Norwegians eat for Christmas varies from region to region, but ribbe (a kind of pork) and pinnekjøt (a kind of mutton) are very common.
I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.