Norwegian Language Blog

Jul Vocabulary Posted by on Dec 20, 2010 in Culture, Holidays, Traditions

Now that jul (Christmas) is around the corner, you may want to impress your friends and family with jul vokabulær!  So, you already know jul, but after this post, you should be able to tell someone what was on the meny (menu) for jul where you were.  (if you have a Norwegian-ish meal).  You should also be able to wish someone Merry Christmas and Happy New Year´s, talk about what you received for presents and maybe even the apparel you donned.

To do with the juletre:


juletre-Christmas tree

julepynt-Christmas decorations




julelys-Christmas lights




god jul-Merry Christmas

godt nyttår-Happy New Year

julekort-Christmas cards


ull genser-wool sweater

telys-tea lights

julegudstjeneste-Christmas church service

julaften-Christmas eve

julenisse-Christmas gnome

flettehjerte-woven heart ornament


Farger: (Colors)




Mat og drikker: (Food and drinks)


julebord-´Christmas table´- typically a work Christmas party with a meal

gløgg-warm mulled wine with nuts and spices (and perhaps Brandy…)

rømmegrøt-cream porridge (whoever finds the hidden mandel-almond in their dish wins!)


pepperkake-gingerbread cookie

krumkake-literally ´crumb cake´-these are thin cone shaped cookies that crumble in while you eat them

sandbakkelser-quickly baked and served either inverted to show the unique shape of the molds or served with a filling

Berlinerkranz-wreath cookies

fattigman småkaker-´Poor man cookies´- knot shaped cookies, quickly fried and sprinkled with sugar

Serina-the traditional Norwegian butter cookie

pinnekjøtt-salted lamb ribs

Traditional norske juletrær (Christmas trees) are decorated with wooden or straw ornaments and hvite julelys with a gull stjerne (gold star) on top.  Many families make woven hjertekurv to put on the tre.  They are simple, but elegant.

Norske julesmåkaker are different than what Americans consider typical `Christmas cookies.´ Common småkaker and other desserts Norwegians make for jul include krumkake, lefse, pepperkaker, sandbakkelser, osv. But first, you must of course eat the hovederett (main course) which often consists of pinnekjøtt or perhaps fisk, with some form of poteter and grønnsaker. The forrett (appetizer, first course) can be rømmegrøt.  I don´t personally recommend this because it is extremely filling.  I find it better in a small portion as a dessert or sometimes as my hovedrett (although not for jul!).  I always enjoy drinking gløgg at least before my julemiddag (Christmas dinner).

A gløgg oppskrift to try:

*** 4 Cardamom , pods , whole
(If you can only find cardamom seeds, and
not the pods, this info might be useful:
-There are about 20 seeds in a pod.
-There are about 80 seeds in a 1/4 teaspoon.)
*** 1/4 cup Cinnamon , broken
*** 25 Cloves , whole
*** 8oz Candied Ginger Slices
*** peel of 1 Orange
*** 1 1/2 cup Raisins
*** 1 cup Slivered Almonds , blanched
*** 2 cups Pineapple Juice
*** 2 liters Port
*** 2 liters Red Wine
*** 750ml Brandy or Aquavit

Mixing instructions:
Take seeds out of cardamom pods, crush the seeds and put with cinnamon,
cloves, ginger slices, orange peel, raisins, almonds in a stainless steel
pot (not aluminum or copper, porcelin is OK). Cover with red wine by 1 inch and
bring to a boil, then remove from heat and cover. Let stand at room
temperature overnight (or at least several hours). Add remaining ingredients
and heat but do not boil. Drink!!!


God jul!!

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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!


  1. Rick:

    For krumkake, I grew up being told the “krum” meant bent, not crumb.

    Which would make sense, since they’re rolled around a cone tin.