Norwegian Language Blog

julekalenderen Posted by on Dec 21, 2009 in Culture, Holidays, Traditions

The Christmas calendar/advent calendar.  Many cultures that celebrate Christmas have some sort of advent calendar.  Today julekalendere can be made from materials such as felt, fabric, paper, small boxes, or chipboard.  Advent means “coming” and julekalenderen is used to count down the days until jul.  Technically advent starts on the fjerde (4th) søndag før jul (Sunday before Christmas), but some julekalendere will start on the 1st of desember.  Fiolet (purple) is the tradisjonell color of jul because fiolet signifies preparation and anticipation.  Four purple candles are traditionally used to represent the four Sundays of advent.  It is common to pynte (decorate) with purple things around the house such as linens, towels, plates, and cushions. 

As far as julekalenderen goes, it is most common to use wall hangings with dører (doors) and lommer (pockets) that have little treats and sweets inside.  However, another older tradition is to put 24 cloves inside en appelsin (an orange) and take one out every day until the 24th, Christmas Eve.  This provides a nice scent for the whole month of desember.  These can be placed in Christmas wreaths, on a table, or on Christmas platters for decoration. 

On the first Sunday of advent a candle is lit, on the second 2 candles are lit, and so forth until all 4 are lit.  There are several different songs and poems, but the most common one is as follows:

Nå tenner vi det første lys
Alene må det stå
Vi venter på det lille Barn
som i en krybbe lå

Nå tenner vi det andre lys
Da kan vi bedre se
Vi venter på at Gud, vår Far
skal gi sin Sønn hit ned

Nå tenner vi det tredje lys
Det er et hellig tall
Vi venter på at Kongen vår
skal fødes i en stall

Nå tenner vi det fjerde lys
og natten blir til dag
Vi venter på en Frelsermann
for alle folkeslag

and the oversettelse (translation) is as follows:

Now we light the first candle
It must stand alone
We wait for the little child
who laid in a manger

Now we light the second candle
Then we can see better
We wait for God, our Father
to give his Son down here

Now we light the third candle
It is a sacred number
We wait for our King
to be born in a stable

Now we light the fourth candle
and night turns into day
We wait for a Saviour
for all mankind

Vi har bare 4 dager igjen til jul (4 more days until Christmas)!

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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. Marca:

    I love your blog and all things Norsk! You are teaching me so much, and I love learning of my heritage. A question — is there somewhere we can listen to the tune of the “Nå tenner vi det første lys” advent song? I tried searching You Tube — found some very lovely Norwegian songs, but not that particular one. Tusen takk!