Celebrating Christmas in Norway

It’s not long now until Christmas, Norway’s biggest holiday.

For many Norwegians, the traditions of how to celebrate are pretty much set in stone.

Norwegian Christmas traditions go back a long way.

Backwards and forwards, people stress.

They all want to get prepared for Christmas.

Advent is a hectic time for many.

Advent is the period before Christmas,

beginning four Sundays before Christmas Eve.

Even before Christianity came to Norway,

Yule was celebrated as a midwinter festival.

In the 900s, the Christian Christmas came to Norway.

The celebration took on a new, religious meaning.

A great deal of Norwegians go to church on Christmas Eve.

On this day, the church is much more full than the rest of the year.

In many countries, 25th December is the big Christmas day.

In Norway, the most important day is Christmas Eve, on the 24th.

On this evening, Norwegians eat Christmas dinner and open gifts.

The countdown to Christmas begins on the 1st of December.

Excited children open the first window on their advent calendar.

Some get a piece of chocolate each day,

others get a small gift or perhaps a note,

with a suggestion for a festive activity.

The traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner is different depending on where in Norway you are.

For example, Ribbe - pork ribs - are traditional in the East.

Pinnekjøtt is the traditional dinner in the West.

Lutefisk is a tradition all over Norway.

Workers in the American Embassy in Oslo

are not particularly fond of lutefisk.

- Yuck. What is it?

- Is it jelly or fish?

- I like the bacon!

But there are no hard and fast rules which say what you should eat.

Many traditions have merged together.

For Christians, Christmas is an important religious festival.

They celebrate the birth of Jesus.

For others, it is a festival of light, when the winter is at its most dark.

The heart of Norwegian Christmas is to spend quality time together with those you love.