Norwegian Language Blog

God Norwegian Jul! Posted by on Dec 24, 2012 in Holidays, Traditions

Hurra (hooray), it’s jul [yule] again! In Norway, julefeiringa (the Christmas celebration) reaches its zenith on December 24th. People leave their jobs early this day (around 12 o’ clock), and schools and kindergartens are closed. Everybody is getting prepared for the Great Evening, the julaften [YOOLaftn] or julekveld [YOOL-eh-kvel] (Christmas Eve).

The whole day people are busy with the last forberedelser (preparations). The Christmas dinner has to be prepared, and it’s the last chance to wrap that julegave (Christmas gift) you totally forgot about… Those family members who aren’t busy – that would be barna (the children), I guess 😉 – enjoy themselves watching tv [TEH-veh]. Norwegian Television have some shows that they broadcast every year on December 24th. One of the staples is Tre nøtter til Askepott (Three Nuts for Cinderella), a fairy-tale filmed in Germany and Czechoslovakia in 1973. Will the princess get her prince this year?

Some families går i kirka [gore ee CHEERkah/SHEERkah] (go to church) to hear julegudstjenesta [the Christmas sermon].

Even non-religious Norwegian families, however, gather for the julemiddag (Christmas dinner). Most Norwegian families eat either ribbe (pork ribs) or pinnekjøtt [PINneh-chot]. Pinnekjøtt is a kind of mutton. The meat is typically eaten with poteter (potatoes), kålrabistappe (rutabaga purée) or surkål (red sauerkraut). A few families eat lutefisk [LOOtehfisk], which is basically dried fish! 🙂

For children, the fun part of the eating is the dessert. This is usually riskrem – rice porridge mixed with cream. Some families hide a mandel (almond) in the dessert, and the one who finds it receives a mandelgave (almond gift). It’s often a marsipangris (marzipan pig). (Other families play the ”almond game” when eating risgrøt, rice porridge, on December 23rd or during the daytime of December 24th.)

At last it’s time for the julegaver!

Each family gathers around juletreet in stua (the living room). The tree, which is most often a gran (spruce – in Western Norway it may also be a furu, pine 🙂 ) carries electric lys (candles), and decorations like kuler (balls), stjerner (stars) and hjerter (hearts). In toppen (the top) there is a huge stjerne. Below the tree the parcels are waiting, ready to be unwrapped and spread glede (joy) to the giver and the recipient alike!

With these words I’d like to wish all our readers a very

God jul!

May all of your wishes come true.

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

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.