The meaning of Christmas in Norway

In Norway where winter is so long and so dark, people should invent and actually they did invent a lot of festivities on the occasion of the Christmas celebration. The county was pagan during Vikings time and people occupied themselves with fishing and some agriculture. They were isolated by the rest of the world and believed in the little demons of the woods, the trolls. The luck of light which is most obvious in December made them desperately to find occasions to celebrate; so the Christmas is the best occasion.
While Norway is predominantly a Christian country, Christmas wasn’t celebrated here until about the 10th and 11th centuries. Before then, people celebrated yuletide in the middle of the winter, and drank beer in honor of the Nordic gods, waiting for the warmer weather to return. It is believed that the word Yule derives from the Proto-Germanic language, but the etymology of the word remains uncertain. To this day, Christmastime is still called juletid in Norway – and while it has preserved some Old Norwegian traditions, it is also influenced by hundreds of European and American Christian practices. . Lots of beer (juleol) was brewed and drunk in honor of the old pagan Scandinavian gods. A traditional Norwegian Christmas Tree decoration are small paper baskets called ‘Julekurver’ which made in the shape of a heart. It’s said that the writer Hans Christian Andersen might have invented them in the 1860s!

City lights and parties
From mid November, the whole Norway get in the Christmas mood. The lights and the decorations come and make the streets look brighter, as soon as the dark season sets in. Of course, at this time everyone join one (or even more) parties at work, with friends… They are called julebord.
Even kids celebrate it at kindergarten and school, and these parties are called nissefest. There, children usually dress as nisser or goblings and dance around the Christmas tree in little red suits, red-rosy cheeks and freckles.
St. Lucia Day
Lucia Dagen is celebrated on the 13th December in schools around Norway. A girl or a boy represents St. Lucia wearing a wreath of candles around the head. The children sing the St. Lucia hymn and they go on a precession though the classroom. Saint Lucy’s Day, also called the Feast of Saint Lucy, is a Christian feast day celebrated on 13 December in Advent, commemorating Saint Lucy, a 3rd-century martyr under the Diocletianic Persecution, who according to legend brought “food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs” using a candle-lit wreath to “light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible. Saint Lucy’s Day is celebrated most commonly in Scandinavia, with their long dark winters, where it is a major feast day, and in Italy, with each emphasizing a different aspect of the story. In Scandinavia, where Saint Lucy is called Santa Lucia in Norwegian and Danish, and Sankta Lucia in Swedish, she is represented as a lady in a white dress (a symbol of a Christian’s white baptismal robe) and red sash (symbolizing the blood of her martyrdom) with a crown or wreath of candles on her head. In Norway, Sweden and Swedish-speaking regions of Finland, as songs are sung, girls dressed as Saint Lucy carry cookies and saffron buns in procession, which “symbolizes bringing the light of Christianity throughout world darkness”.


Lighting Advent candles on Sundays
Advent is a preparation period before December 25 which starts four Sundays before Christmas. Every Sunday up until Christmas Day is commemorated by lighting a four-candle candelabra. On the first Sunday the first candle is lit, on the second Sunday the next two candles are lit, and so on. Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or sometimes from the 1st December to Christmas Day!). Advent means ‘Coming’ in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.
The Advent wreath, or Advent crown, is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western church. It is traditionally a Lutheran practice, although it has spread to many other Christian denominations.
It is usually a horizontal evergreen wreath with four candles, sometimes with a fifth, white candle in the center. Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, the lighting of a candle can be accompanied by a Bible reading, devotional time and prayers. An additional candle is lit during each subsequent week until, by the last Sunday before Christmas, all four candles are lit. Many Advent wreaths include a fifth, Christ candle which is lit at Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The custom is observed both in family settings and at public church and school services. There are many types of advent calendars used in different countries. They are made of paper or card with 24 or 25 little windows on. A window is opened on every day in December and a Christmas picture is displayed underneath.


Decorate with nisser
A nisse is a mythological creature from Scandinavian folklore, which could be compared to a garden gnome or a goblin. According to tradition, they are present in farmhouses in which they act as guardians of those living there and even occasionally help with house chores. They were believed to be the ‘soul’ of the first person living in the property, and are described as small creatures resembling old men with long beards and red conical caps. Nisser are a typical character from Old Norse culture and are also associated with the winter solstice. Today, they have been assimilated into Christian culture in Scandinavia and appear in Christmas tales, decorations, and cards. Santa Claus, known in Norwegian as Julenisse, is himself a sort of nisse.
Eat traditional Scandinavian food
Typical Norwegian Christmas dishes include risengrynsgrøt, ribbe, pinnekjøtt, lutefisk and rakfisk. Risengrynsgrøt is Norwegian rice porridge usually prepared for lunch on Christmas day. It is served with sugar and cinnamon and a dab of butter in the centre. An almond is hidden in the large pot, and the person who finds the it in their portion traditionally receives a marzipan as a gift. Ribbe are pork ribs, and Pinnekjøt, or Stick Meat, consists of salted or dried lamb ribs that are soaked in water for approximately 30 hours before consumption. Similarly, lutefisk is dried cod, stock fish or clip fish that is soaked into a solution of lye in order to rehydrate it before eating. It has a gelatinous texture, both loved and loathed by Norwegian people, who seem to agree that ‘once a year is enough.’ Lutefisk is traditionally served with fried bacon, mashed green peas and boiled potatoes. Finally, rakfisk, considered a Norwegian delicacy, is probably one of the world’s smelliest fishes. It is heavily salted trout fermented in water for up to a year. It is then eaten raw with a glass (or several) of aquavit. Last but not least is the drink gløgg, a beverage usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices and raisins. It is served warm and may be alcoholic or non-alcoholic.

 

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