14 Norwegian Christmas Traditions [Guide to Christmas in Norway]

Traditions, culture, and ways of life are inseparable from humans. Different people have different cultures during different seasons. Norwegians have their own unique Christmas cultures. Reviews in Norway have shown that Norwegians value their Christmas culture

Christmas decorations in Norway, types of food served in Norwegian homes, Norwegian Christmas dressings, and other Christmas special cultural displays are some of the traditions that Norwegians uphold during Christmas. I will simplify Norwegian Christmas traditions that may have been bothering you. No thanks. 

Opening of Presents in the Evening 

One of the interesting Norwegian Christmas traditions is how they open their Christmas presents. Can you withstand receiving Christmas gifts in the morning and not opening them till night? Yes, that’s how it is in Norway. Norwegians believe in opening all their Christmas presents by evening after everything. This, they believe builds, patience, contentment, and character.

Little Christmas Eve

Norwegians celebrate Christmas eve more than Christmas day itself. There’s a tradition among Norwegians where they celebrate joyfully on the 23rd of December. That’s actually a day before Christmas eve. It’s dubbed little Christmas eve

This is a very special day for Norwegians because many families will decorate the Christmas tree and make their final preparations before Christmas officially starts.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is the main event in the Norwegian Christmas tradition. The first part of the day is often spent running around for the last Christmas presents, trying to put things in order, or in church for Christmas service. 

At five the bells ring out for Christmas, and most people have Christmas dinner at home or with their relatives. All Christmas presents are always placed under the tree and are opened after dinner according to Norwegian tradition.

Christmas Decoration 

Just like everyone, Norwegians also decorate their homes during Christmas. However, there’s a unique touch in Norwegians’ decoration of their homes. For Christmas, Norwegians decorate their homes with wreaths, angels, gnomes, hearts, stars, and maybe a nativity scene or a gingerbread house. Some Norwegians also decorate their houses outside with lights and wreaths. Most families have a Christmas tree in the living room. It has a star at the top and is decorated with garlands, tinsel, and ornaments.

Christmas Food, Drinks, and Snacks

The most popular Norwegian Christmas Eve dinner is the ribbe (pork ribs or pork belly, bone-in), but lutefisk (cod cured in lye), pinnekjøtt (dry-cured ribs of lamb), boiled cod, ham roast, and turkey are also common dishes. Many fish restaurants and restaurants with Norwegian food always have Christmas specialties on their menu in November and December. Many Norwegians like to have a juleøl (“Christmas beer”) with the food – a malty beer that is available from November just to celebrate Christmas. 

Also, the risengrynsgrøt (hot rice pudding) is an old, traditional dish that is what the barn gnome eats! In the countryside, many people put a bowl outside for the barn gnome. They also make riskrem with the puddings left.

For drink, the drink Norwegians prefer to have is gløgg which is a warm, spicy drink similar to German Glühwein. It can be made with red wine, but the non-alcoholic version is often preferred. 

The Christmas season is when Norwegians take candy and snacks most. You will also see bowls of chocolate and nuts in most homes.

Sending Christmas Trees Abroad

This is one of my favorite fun facts about Christmas in Norway, and I love sharing it with people who didn’t know. Every year, there is a huge Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, London. This tree is actually donated as a gift from the city of Oslo, and they have sent a tree over from Norway every year since 1947! This is as a thank you for the support Norway was given by Britain during World War II. The tree is decorated in a traditional, Norwegian style, and you can read more about it (and find out when they light it every year)


Norwegians use the Christmas season to pay their loved ones special visits. The days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are typically spent by Norwegians going to brunches and dinners with family and friends. Many Norwegians go out in the evening, so there is more activity in the city center. 

From 27 December the shops always are open, and people rush around exchanging presents that weren’t quite what they wanted.

By Rehan

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