A Traditional Christmas Eve in Norway

For most Norwegians the traditional “Julaften” (Christmas Eve being the name of the whole day) will consist of having a lovely breakfast with you family. Everyone gathered around the table and lots of lovely food to choose from. It will be something like a smorgasbord with lots of choices and several different sorts of freshly baked bread, several choices of cheese, egg, ham, lots of different sorts of pickled herring and lots of other stuff.

Each Christmas eve according to the traditions, the main Norwegian TV Channel will send a series of TV programmes (same procedure as last year) that the kids will watch (and me – being a big kid).

They will start with Three Wishes for Cinderella (Tři oříšky pro Popelku in Czheck and “Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel” in German) which is a Czechoslovak-German fairy-tale film from 1973.

The film stars Libuse Safrankova as the title character, a young woman who is put upon by her stepmother and stepsisters. The film employs a twist, though, when a handsome prince comes knocking. Cinderella does not simply fall into the prince’s arms. In this version, he must actively pursue the young woman who is a skilled sharpshooter prone to wearing hunting outfits. Cinderella also has three wishes at her disposal, gained from three magic nuts.

Read my full review of this film here

Then they will show Reisen til Julestjernen, a Norwegian film based on the theatre Play by Sverre Brandt from 1924. The play holds the Norwegian National Theatres (NNT) record as the play that has been shown most times throughout the history of NNT. In January 1962 the play was shown the 500th time.

The play was filmed in 1976 by Ola Solum with Hanne Krogh playing the role of «Sonja».

Read my full review of this film here

Next up is the Disney Christmas Special From All of us to all of you. The show is hosted by Jiminy Cricket along with Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbell, the special combines newly-produced animation with clips from vintage animated Disney shorts and feature films, presented to the viewer as “Christmas cards” from the various characters starring in each one.

After these 3 Christmas movies it is time to help out making dinner, shower and get dressed for the big night. We helped Daddy getting ready and got ourselves and the two smaller sisters getting ready. Then the table was set and auntie Signe came over to celebrate Christmas with us.

3 sisters ready for Christmas eve to start; Linda, Ellen and Ingrid.

Aunt Signe

At 5:30 pm Dinner was served.

According to traditions there are different dishes that are common as a Christmas Eve dinner according to where you live, which area your family is from and such things. The traditions are different whether you grew up by the sea or if you grew up inland.

  • Atlantic Halibut is very common Christmas dinner.
  • Many also have Atlantic Cod for Christmas dinner.
    For both these dishes Potatoes, carrots, sauce and sometimes bacon is served as side dishes.
  • Or the dish Lutefisk (which THANKFULLY was never common in my family) which is has reached far beyond the Norwegian borders.
    Bacon, green peas, green pea stew, potatoes, lefse, gravy, mashed rutabaga, white sauce, melted or clarified butter, syrup, geitost (goat cheese), or “old” cheese (gammelost) are common side dishes.
  • Juleribbe is one of the most popular Christmas dishes. It is believed that as many as 65% of the Norwegians serve Juleribbe as their Christmas dinner. Juleribbe is pork rib, but it is not prepared the same way as in the US or in Asian cuisine.
    Common side dishes for this dish are meatballs, sausage, sourkraut, redkraut, potatoes, sauce and lots of other delicious goodies.
  • Pinnekjøtt is another dish very often served on Christmas eve (This dish is increasing in popularity).
    Puréed rutabaga and potatoes are the most common side dishes.

Many families have origins from several different parts of the country and to follow all the traditions they have solved this serving all the different dishes on each their day during Christmas.

We had Deer steak this year and Daddy had cooked it to perfection. It was so soft and tender that the meat almost melted on our toungues.

After dinner we had Ice Cream for dessert before we had a very long gift exchange session. We had no visit from Santa (because as my 4 year old sister said it; Santa has already been here and left the gifts under the tree), but still there was more than enough gifts for everyone!

After the gift exchange it was time for coffee and cakes and games. Linda had gotten a game as a gift and all of us played and enjoyed the company.

Daddy, Ingrid, Ellen, Linda, Me, Aunt Signe.


2 responses to “A Traditional Christmas Eve in Norway

  1. Hi Marianne – I really enjoyed this post about Christmas in Norway. I ate so well when I was there–I especially miss the brown cheese that I will never be able to find back here in the States. Sending my best!

    • Thanks Ashley :D If you wish me to send you some more of the brown cheese I can bring in the end of january and send you some from Houston. I have a layover there for 20 hours. I may be able to do that. That would be domestic shipping and not international so that would be good. Let me know :D PS. I think you should be able to find the cheese in the Norwegian embassy, consulates and at the Norwegian Sailors Church. They sell to the Norwegian travellers that wish to visit a Norwegian church while abroad. http://www.sjomannskirken.no/english They have 5 or 6 churches in the US. Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and at least one other :D
      Have a wonderful new year !

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