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Norway's Christmas Traditions


Christmas in Lillehammer, Norway

Christmas in Lillehammer, Norway

©T. Rakke/Innov. Norway Sleigh Ride in Norway

Sleigh Ride in Gudbrandsdalen, Norway

© T. Rakke/Innov. Norway A Scandinavian Christmas Elf

A Scandinavian Christmas Elf

© Visit Finland
This article is part of the series Christmas in Scandinavia

Let's find out how they celebrate Christmas in Norway! Spending Christmas in Norway is a great way to experience Norway's local traditions during the holidays.

First of all, "Merry Christmas" in Norwegian is "Gledelig Jul," or "God Jul."

Norway's traditional Christmas customs include Nisse, a gnome or an elf guarding animals. It is said in Norway that Nisse can have goat-like features (Christmas Buck, or Julebukk in Norwegian). Children get bowls of a certain type of porridge ready for him - if they don't, he will play tricks on them. How is that for a traditional story for Christmas in Norway?

The idea of Julebukk is a very old one and was most likely known by the Vikings. In earlier times during Christmas in Norway, one person dressed in goatskin (carrying a goat's head!) would come to the Christmas celebration unannounced and act as if they were dying shortly afterwards.

It did not take long for Christians in Norway (and the rest of Scandinavia) to associate the goat with the devil. They then used it only during celebrations and were later forbidden these customs by the church and government. A much tamed-down form of the tradition remains to this day.

For Christmas in Norway, there is a special holiday cookie called Sand Kager. In the afternoons, children go from door to door to ask for treats.

A nice, traditional Christmas dinner for Norwegians often consist of codfish, potatoes, porridge, gingerbread and Christmas punch. Have a good trip and a merry Christmas in Norway!

Go back up to the main article Christmas in Scandinavia for more Christmas traditions!

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