Celebrate The Norse Way


Lystig Jul! (Merry Christmas!)

The majority of Norway lies above the Artic Circle and thus entertains a very cold Christmas season. Norway quite possibly could exemplify what everyone pictures as a traditional Christmas holiday in his or her minds. Inland, the country has snowy mountains and fjords, and the people share numerous tales about trolls and gnomes.

Shops begin putting up their decorations around December 1 because it is distasteful to begin any earlier. The streets are also decorated with garland and lights, and most towns have a Christmas tree located within its limits. December 23 is known as Lil' Christmas Eve, primarily because daylight hours are getting shorter, and by December 24, the families must have all they need for Christmas purchased and at home. The family tree is normally brought in on Lil' Christmas Eve, but it is not decorated until the evening before Christmas, though many parents still and decorate at night while the children are asleep. The next day, children will gather around the television to watch classic Christmas shows and movies. The morning is also spent preparing the Christmas dinner, which begins at 5 p.m.

Santa Claus is known as Julenisse (or Julnissen) in Norway. Julenisse, an old Norse figure, is happy and jolly, as well as stern, and wears hand-knitted stockings, breeches that end at the knees, a sweater and a homespun jacket. He greatly resembles the Americanized Santa Claus with his long, white beard and red and white coat. Instead of leaving cookies and milk, Norwegian families leave Julenisse porridge, beer and lefse (bread.) They even have a special place for him at the dinner table.

On Christmas Eve, all work stops as families attend churches that are filled to the brim and resonate with joyously ringing bells. They return home, have a lavish dinner, and then read the Christmas Story before singing carols around the Christmas tree. Julenisse arrives with gifts for the children and, once all have been opened, the family breaks out the coffee and cake.






Copyright 2003 Mary E. Bishop