Christmas in Norway is one of the most fascinating celebrations you can enjoy during your visit. The parties and celebrations around the country never stop during Christmas. They range from work parties, amazing dishes and as coming together of family members.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, Norway is the perfect holiday destination if you visit during the Christmas period. Let’s learn more about it, shall we?

More About Christmas in Norway

The Norwegians believe that the Christmas period is a time to stop working and spend time with their beloved family members. In Scandinavia, you will often hear jol or Jul. This is a term that is used to describe the Christmas holiday season. 

The concept of jol is common with the Gregorian calendar, therefore you are going to find that Norwegians celebrate their Christmas on the 25th of December. The Christmas period will last from Christmas Eve until the day of Epiphany.

At the beginning of Jul, you will find chiming church bells throughout the country. The Christmas period is usually almost an eight-week event, and is made up of five phases. These phases are julaften, advent, nytta, Romulo, Christmas, and the Epiphany. 

It is customary for people to have an advent calendar, as they use it to count the days to Christmas. It also allows the parents to pass the tradition to their children.

Before we continue with breaking down the winter festive period in Norway, here are some additional resources to guide your stay in the country:

Common Christmas Customs in Norway

Norway is mostly a Christian country, therefore, they follow the Christian traditions for Christmas. They usually decorate Christmas trees and exchange gifts. They believe that Julenissen, a figure similar to Santa Claus, brings the gifts.

Here are more of the Christmas traditions you can find in Norway.

Advent calendar

Perhaps this is the most common Christmas feature you can find in Norway. Christmas period in Norway begins about four weeks before 25th December. During this period people light a candle each Sunday until the last one on Christmas Eve. The color of the candle varies from one region to another. In some places you will find them in pink or red colors.

In most parts of Norway, you can find advent calendars in the markets around as well as in the supermarkets. The children usually mark closely the calendars and each day they will find a present on the day as they mark the end of the day. It is common for the children to wait for the Christmas period with so much enthusiasm. This spirit is common in Norway. 

Many companies in Norway produce advent calendars, and this has become a booming business in the Christmas period. In addition, there is a tradition of the advent calendar where it is televised, and many people often follow it up as well. 

Christmas Movies in Norway

There is a common movie played on television in Norway and many people often enjoy this period because they can catch the movie. This movie is about a Czech Cinderella, however, it has undergone a voice-over by a Norwegian male actor, so that people in the country can understand the movie. This movie has been shown on television for decades now and it has become a tradition that you will find it being shown annually.

Let’s say it is a Norwegian version of Home Alone, which is aired in many Western countries during the Christmas period.

Christmas caroling in Norway

This is yet another common Christmas tradition people nurture in this country. Julebukk, as it is commonly called in Norway, is a tradition where children will dress up in Christmas-themed characters.  This usually happens from Christmas Day until New Year’s Eve. 

The children will then walk from door to door as they sing Christmas carols and recite Christmas poems. The children are usually gifted all kinds of treats such as candies, sweets, fruits, and even money. In some places, the children will often prefer monetary gifts as they are trying to accumulate money to purchase their Christmas gifts.

Further reading: Christmas in Finland

In some places in Norway, you will find that even adults can join this. However, they will move from one door to another with empty cups and this is usually for alcoholic refills instead of candies and sweets as it is for the children. Still, this is not very common because many people will often gather and enjoy drinks in different entertainment places around Norway.


This is a gin that is common in the Scandinavian countries and Norway. It has become a common thing in the region, especially during the Christmas period. The gin is distilled from potatoes, and is served during the Christmas period.

It is important to note that this drink is very strong and it plays an important part in the Norwegian drinking culture. It is usually served in a shot glass and sipped slowly. According to the myths and folklore in the region, the drink is vital as it helps the festive food sink.

Nisse på Låven

This is a fictional creature similar to the elves that you will find roaming around the country. They are manlike creatures that inhabit farms and barns around the country – known to hide in hay.

Norwegians believe this creature is important because it takes care of the animals in the barn and ensures that they do not get ill during the winter period. The locals have a tradition where they will leave a bowl of Christmas porridge in the barn as a token of appreciation to the creature for taking care of the animals. There is a belief that you must include a blob of butter in the middle of the bowl as you add the soup because otherwise Nisse might get angry and your animals might get sick.


This is the yule goat, it is a common figurine made up of straws. During early December, you will find them around Norway. The yule goat is one of the oldest traditions that dates back to the pagan period. It is the representation of Thor’s magical goats that would lead him to the sky.

Further reading: Christmas in Estonia

Norwegians believe that the yule goat will protect the house during the yuletide. After the Christmas feasting, many people join the skiing runs and tobogganing in the region and if you are a fan of outdoor winter sports, then Norway is the perfect location for you to enjoy the unique traditions.

Christmas tree in Norway

Finding a Christmas tree in Norway is not tough at all.

Norwegians take the Christmas decoration process very seriously. The male members of the household will often go to the forest and get a Christmas tree, often spruce or fir. Once they have brought it to the house, they decorate it with lights, and it will have a star on top.

In most cases, small Norwegian flags are hanging on the Christmass tree as well. A small basket of fruit, chocolates, sweets, and candies are placed under the Christmas tree.


This is the Norwegian Santa Claus, and he is similar to the other Santa Clauses around the world. It is one of the iconic celebrations in Norway. In Norway, people get to meet Santa in person and he does not come down via the chimney, as is common in other Western countries. On Christmas Eve, Julenissen will knock at the door and he will enter the house carrying a huge bag filled with presents.

During this period, the children who behaved well during the year will receive their present. In some places around the country, you will find that Julenissen is given a drink as the children sing Christmas carols and recite poems to him.

When the children are singing to him, he will remove the presents from the bag. Once he has completed issuing the presents he will then leave the house and commence a new journey.


This is one of the most common Christmas traditions in Norway. Julenek are the sheaves of wheat given to the birds. During this time, you will see a wide array of species of birds coming from different parts of Norway to feast on Julenek.

The sheaves of wheat are usually hung on trees. This allows the bird to feast on them, and it is a perfect time for you to take a few pictures of the birds. The birds usually feed more during the winter period as they try to regulate their temperatures.

Christmas food in Norway

It is important to understand that Norwegian dishes are quite diverse. The Christmas season is all about family.

People will often gather together with their friends, and they will eat a Christmas Eve dish called ribbe. This is the highlight of the month for many people in the country.

You will find that the people in the country usually prefer pinnekjøtt and ribbe as their Christmas dinner. Ribbe is pork ribs and you will find that people in different parts of the country have different ways of making it. However, the most common method is roasting the ribs to perfection, and the top layer of the ribs is usually crunchy, while the inside is soft and moist. The ribbe is often served with sausages, potatoes, sauerkraut, and lingonberries.

On the other hand, pinnekjøtt is a traditional dish commonly called meat on the stick. The name is derived from the sticks used in making the meat. The meat is cured perfectly, and roasted to perfection. They usually make it from sheep or goat meat. The dish is served with potatoes as well as mashed kohlrabi and a sauce. It is often characterized by its salty taste and this is because of the curing process.

As for the dessert, you will find that the people in the region usually feast on rice pudding or porridge mixed with sugar and cream. 

Mandel i Grøten

This is another common Christmas tradition prevalent in Norway. It usually involves the hiding of an almond in the porridge that is eaten on Christmas Eve. The almond is usually hidden in the porridge and whoever gets to drink the porridge with the almond is the winner of the game. It is one of the strangest games that you will find common in Norway during the Christmas period.

Christmas cookies

There are seven types of Christmas cookies that you are going to find prevalent in Norway. The baking process usually involves complex preparation done before Christmas. You might find this tradition in other Scandinavian countries such as Sweden as well.

The seven types of cookies have undergone tremendous changes over the years. However, the concept is still the same and the Christmas spirit is what matters most during this festive season.

Christmas parties in Norway

An example of Christmas decorations in Norway.

It is important to note that during your travel to Norway, you will find that the people in the region are diverse and they have unique Christmas traditions. However, the parties in the region are usually exceptional and you should ensure that you join one of them.

The julebord, which means Christmas table, is a celebration that is mostly focused on food and drinks that people consume during the Christmas period. They will serve roast meat, and potatoes and drink their gin. There are other vegetables and fruits that you can enjoy as well during this period.

Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.