Welcome To Christmas Around The World
Learn How Other Children Celebrate Christmas From Different Countries!
Say Merry Christmas in Norwegian
God Jul or
Like the other Scandinavian countries, Norway has its gift-bearing little gnome or elf. Known as Julebukk or "Christmas buck," he appears as a goat-like creature. Julebukk harkens back to Viking times when pagans worshipped Thor and his goat. During pagan celebrations a person dressed in a goatskin, carrying a goat head, would burst in upon the party and during the course of evening would "die" and return to life.
During the early Christian era, the goat began to take the form of the devil, and would appear during times of wild merry-making and jubilation. By the end of the Middle Ages, the game was forbidden by the Church and the state. In more recent times the goat has emerged in the tamer form of Julebukk.
Christmas Eve is the time when presents are exchanged. The gifts are sometimes brought by Santa Claus (called 'Julenissen' in Norway). Presents are also brought by the small gnomes called 'Nisse'. There are also hobgoblins (Nisse) decorations. Children pick up the presents from under the Christmas Tree and read the cards on the presents out loud.
As in Finland, a sheaf of wheat is often left out for the birds to eat over Christmas. Also a type of rice porridge is sometimes left for the 'Nisse' who is believed to guard the farm animals.
In some parts of Norway, children like to go carol singing. Often children will dress up as characters from the Christmas Story, such as the Shepherds and Wise Men, and go singing from house to house in their local neighborhood. Sometimes they carry with paper stars on them.
Another tradition in parts of Norway is that families light a candle every night from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day.
Christmas wasn't celebrated in Norway until about 1000 or 1100, when Christianity first came to the area. Before this people celebrated jul or jòl in the middle of winter. It was a celebration of the harvest gone and a way of looking forward to the spring. Lots of beer (juleol) was brewed and drunk in honour of the old pagan Scandinavian gods.
Maybe the most famous custom about Christmas in Norway is the big Christmas Tree that Norway gives to the UK every year. The tree is given as a present to say 'thank you' for the help that the people of the UK gave to Norway during World War II. The tree stands in Trafalgar Square in the middle of London and often hundreds of people come to watch when the lights are turned on.
A traditional Norwegian Christmas Tree decoration are small paper baskets called 'Julekurver' which made in the shape of a heart. It's said that the writer Hans Christian Andersen might have invented them in the 1860s!
Many different types of cakes and biscuits are eaten over the Christmas period in Norway. One of the most popular is a special bread called 'Julekake' that has raisins, candied peel and cardamom in it. Here's a recipe for Norwegian Hole Cake. Rice Porridge is eaten on Christmas Eve either as a meal at lunchtime (served with butter, sugar and cinnamon) or as a dessert to the main evening email (with whipped cream mixed in!). If you find an almond in your portion you're traditionally given a pink or white marzipan pig.
The main meal is normally pork or mutton ribs served with 'surkal' (white or red cabbage, finely chopped and cooked with caraway seeds and vinegar) and potatoes.