What could be better than Norway to immerse yourself in the magic of Christmas? Between its traditions, its culinary specialties and its magical places not to be missed, a Christmas in Norway is unforgettable …
NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS FOR CHRISTMAS
Christmas is an important holiday for Norwegians. It is said that rituals such as the making of beer or the sacrifice of animals were devoted to this period long before the Christianization of the country!
This is the time of year when the streets are adorned with fairy lights. The snow is falling in large flakes. We snuggle up by the fire with a hot chocolate and eat one of the 7 varieties of Christmas cakes that we traditionally cook as a family. It’s time to buy some handcrafted gifts in one of the many Christmas markets across the country or some handcrafted Christmas baubles in one of the many handcrafted glassworks. It is also not uncommon to see Julenisse (Santa Claus) in person around the corner.
In Bergen, to name just one example, kindergartens, schools, businesses and thousands of residents each year help build a giant gingerbread village.
In Norway, traditions are not that different from those in the rest of Europe. For most Norwegians, the tree is decorated on December 23 by all family members. It is on December 24 that families gather around a good meal and offer the gifts under the tree.
NORWAY’S CULINARY SPECIALTIES
Although Norwegian traditions are very similar to French traditions, typical holiday dishes will delight you with their originality!
Most often, we cook the ribbe called ribbe. They are served with cabbage, steamed potatoes, sausages and meatballs (sauerkraut revisited, you say?). Pinnekjøtt (salted, dried and sometimes smoked mutton ribs) and turkey are also typical Norwegian food options.
For the fish version, cod and cod are at the party. They include the lutefisk dish (cod soaked in water and soda baths like the preservation methods of yore).
To accompany these meals, we taste a Christmas beer or even Aquavit (potato brandy flavored with cumin seeds, anise, dill, fennel and coriander). In the markets you can also find gløgg, the equivalent of French mulled wine.
Rice pudding with red berry sauce is the main Christmas dessert. We hide an almond there as we would hide a bean in a galette des rois. Whoever finds it wins a small marzipan pig (finely ground almond paste). In the countryside, we have a tradition of leaving a plate outside, not for Santa Claus but … to feed the elf!
4 MAGICAL PLACES TO SPEND CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY
- Spend Christmas in the snow in the capital of Norway. There are many
- activities on offer for the holiday season in Oslo. The opportunity to go and experience the toboggan runs of Korketrekkeren, 20 minutes from Oslo. You can also observe the Norwegian traditions of yesteryear at the Norsk Folkemuseum Christmas Market on the Bugdøy Peninsula.
- Discover the world’s largest gingerbread village in Bergen. Take the opportunity to soak up the Christmas atmosphere at the large Festplassen market. Don’t miss a visit to the KODE Art Museum.
- Opt for a sporting Christmas in Lillehammer, the former city of the Olympic Games. On the program, a festive atmosphere at the Maihaugen open-air museum or the Lillehammer art museum. Finally, try the bobsleigh track or enjoy the magnificent view from the top of the Lysegårdsbakkene ski jump.
- Live the Christmas experience in a small fishing village in Lofoten. Discover the local crafts of the glassblowers of the village of Henningsvær. Sleep in a rorbu, (small fisherman’s hut). Take a snow scooter to the nearest bar for a good hot chocolate. Complete your experience with a visit to the Viking Museum Lofotr. Finish with a Northern Lights observation, for an unforgettable Christmas!