Norwegian Language Blog

Thanksgiving in Norway Posted by on Nov 17, 2011 in Culture, Holidays, Traditions


Perhaps you have spent a lonely Thanksgiving away from your family, maybe even out of the country.  Fear not, if you happen to be in Norway for some reason during Thanksgiving and you are not with your family or other Americans, you can still enjoy a feast close to those we love here in the U.S.  As November is the only month that I have not spent in Norway, I have not been tasked with making Thanksgiving matretter (dishes) and finding friends to enjoy them with in Norway.  I do have several American friends who have spent Thanksgivings in Norway and they always seem to have a good time and enjoy the mat, despite the fact that Norwegian matbutikker (grocery stores) are nothing like the giants here in the U.S.

If you are in a larger city in Norway, you will likely find one or more of the following matbutikker: ICA, Meny, Coop, Rimi, Rema 1000.  While buying mat in Norwegian matbutikker is relatively comparative to the U.S. in terms of cost (relative to other ´costs of living´), matprodukter that are not common in Norway will of course be dyrere (more expensive).  Items that you will be able to find relatively easily are kalkun (turkey) either at a matbutikk or a slakter (butcher), søtpoteter (sweet potatoes), and tranebær (cranberries).  You will have difficulty finding frozen pie crusts for sure, as well as gresskar purée (pumpkin purée) and certain urter (herbs) that you may enjoy in stuffing or some other matrett.

I was looking for stories from Americans who have made Thanksgiving dinners in Norway and I came across this blog.  It´s about a woman who has to make Thanksgiving dinner for her Norwegian husband and family (who have never eaten it before) and she really has no idea what she´s doing, but everything turned out awesome.  And….they had an eating contest-hard to imagine with a small Norwegian family, but very funny.  Check out the blog here.

Although Norwegians do not typically celebrate Thanksgiving, many American families with Scandinavian descent include things like lefse (or maybe lutefisk or fenelår) in their Thanksgiving meal.  My family always has lefse at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter actually.  It´s just kind of a dessert that ends up on most holiday dining tables.

Happy Thanksgiving whether you are in Norway or anywhere else in the world.

takk-thank you


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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. Heidi:

    Gresskarpurè (again, without the space), and “fenAlår”.
    And by the way, Thanksgiving is based on certain happenings in the American history, so it would be kind of weird for other nations to celebrate it, no?:)

  2. Nancy:

    Thanksgiving historically started in America. A German website claims they celebrated a thanksgiving called harvest fest. This was usually the first Sunday in October. In the upper Midwest (USA), many Catholic churches hold a bazaar (or fall festival) to celebrate harvest. I am interested in customs from a number of European countries, based on the countries my family came from. Germany is the only country I found that acknowledged a celebration of harvest.