It’s Christmas time, and with that comes traditions we see all the time. Traditions such as snowy landscapes, Santa’s appearance in his sleigh, who leaves gifts under the Christmas tree and kissing under the mistletoe.
But not all traditions are the same across the globe.
Christmas also comes with many unusual traditions. And today we’re taking a pit stop to a country not far from the North Pole.
A cold and mountainous place in Europe: Norway. This Scandinavian country has a lot of usual Western traditions of Christmas.
But they have their share of weird and wonderful traditions as well.
Here are ten facts about a Norwegian Christmas.
In 2011 Norway ran out butter due to shortage of milk production during the summer. This was problematic for everyone who needed butter for cookies and cakes for Christmas. It was such a big crisis that it entered international news and is remembered as the “Norwegian butter crisis“.
One of the strongest TV traditions is that every Christmas Eve, on 11 AM, the state channel airs an East German/Czechoslovakian film called “Three Wishes for Cinderella” (Tři oříšky pro Popelku) from 1973. Norway even contributed 80,000 Euros to digitally restore the film.
A Christmas tree is given to London from the city of Oslo, Norway each year. This tree is a token of gratitude after the British support during WWII.
Every year different breweries sell Julebrus (Christmas Soda), a soft drink with either red or brown color. There are over 20 different brands and many people have big opinions on which one is the best.
Julebukking is an old Christmas tradition resembling the modern-day Halloween trick-or-treating. If you go “julebukk”, you dress up as an elf or a Santa and sing Christmas carols, and in return you get some candy.
Norwegians have a televised version of advent calendars. One of the most popular shows was a spoof on a reality show. It included 24 Santa’s that stayed together in a barn to compete in becoming the best Santa. They were eliminated one by one for each episode after competing in Christmas activities until the last Santa won on December 24th. It was called Nissene på Låven (Santa’s in the Barn) and became a massive success.
The most watched Norwegian movie of all time is a stop-motion classic called Pinchcliffe Grand Prix (Flåklypa Grand Prix). It has nothing to do with Christmas, but has tremendous nostalgic value to the population. It always airs during the holidays.
Norwegians love making gingerbread cakes. In the city of Bergen they have the world’s largest gingerbread cake town on display every year.
The most sold frozen pizza in the country is also the most popular food on Christmas Eve after a 2011 study. It was later revealed that it is most likely eaten during lunch while the families prepare the real Christmas dinner, often consisting of lamb ribs.
Speaking of lamb ribs, it can take seven hours in the oven to get the perfect result. In 2016 they put a camera in the oven and had a live broadcast of the rib getting cooked. This was a massive success and over 600,000 Norwegians tuned in to watch it. (To put it in perspective with the small population of Norway, the most watched TV programs have around 1.1 million viewers).
Norwegians hold their traditions very fondly and we hope this article has given you some interesting knowledge about this small and special haven in Northern Europe.
Merry Christmas, or like they say it in Norway, God Jul!