our everyday life

Norwegian Christmas Family Activities

by Ann Daniels

You can incorporate Norwegian Christmas traditions into your holiday celebration that include folklore, history and good cheer. Norwegians celebrate Christmas with presents, decorations, traditional food and family time. In Norwegian culture, the main Christmas celebration takes place on Christmas Eve, although there are traditions that take place leading up to the big day.

Sweets

A traditional dessert, risengrynsgrøt, is a tasty treat with an interesting tradition. It’s hot rice pudding combined with cinnamon, sugar and butter. According to Norwegian folklore, barn gnomes or pixies, enjoy eating this dessert. On Christmas Eve, children can leave a bowl of this hot rice pudding outside a barn to keep the pixies happy. You can also play a game with dessert. When making it, drop an almond in the mixture and whoever finds the almond wins a marzipan pig. Baking cookies prior to the holiday is another Norwegian activity since tradition has it that Norwegians should enjoy seven different types of cookies as part of their Christmas meal.

Yule Log

Gather around the fireplace and burn a Yule log on Christmas Eve to celebrate the holiday with your family. In ancient Norway, people burned a Yule log at the winter solstice to welcome the return of the sun. According to Norwegian tradition, burning the Yule log also brings good luck in the upcoming New Year. You might also want to bake a chocolate log-shaped cake, known as a Yule log, inspired from the ancient Norwegian tradition.

Julenissen

Designate an adult to dress up as Norway’s version of Santa Claus, Julenissen, on Christmas Eve -- December 24th. The adult should wear a red cap and white beard to fit the part. When Julenissen arrives with a bag full of gifts, he should ask, “Are there any good children here?” Then he can hand out Christmas gifts, such as toys, books or games, from the red sack he's carrying on his back.

Decorating

Sometime before the holiday -- or as many Norwegians do, you might want to wait to December 23, which is "Little Christmas" -- decorate a Christmas tree with ornaments, strings of Norwegian flags and lights. Provide children with colorful paper to make the traditional woven hearts filled with candy to hang on the Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve, hang a stalk of oats, known as a julenek, outdoors on a branch or pole to feed the birds. Traditionally a julenek symbolized a hope for good farming. Today, it symbolizes Christmas.

About the Author

Ann Daniels has been a professional writer for more than 10 years. Her work has been published in many national health and wellness publications. Daniels holds a Master of Arts in communications from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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