How Is Christmas and The New Year Celebrated in Norway?

Are you worried that the shorter days and longer cold hours will take their toll on you if you spend your Winter Holidays in Norway? Don’t fret.

People in Norway absolutely love Christmas and the winter holidays, in general. The Yuletide, which is the traditional Scandinavian celebration of winter, is also sprinkling over its own bit of magic, resulting in some amazing times to be had if you happen to be in Norway in December and early January.

I have already told you about the Christmas celebrations in Denmark, as well as how people Celebrate Christmas in Sweden and you will see that, just like in all Scandinavian countries, things are very similar in Norway.

So if you happen to visit the country earlier in December or even late November, you will find preparations for the “big day” already underway.

How is Christmas celebrated in Norway?

Of course, there are the traditional Advent celebrations where family share gifts in the lighting of Advent candles each Sunday.

The Christmas tree is also a traditional fixture in homes and business establishments. Instead of circular wreaths, Norwegians decorate the entrances of their homes with ribboned oat bundles.

Marzipan candies in Norway

Don’t be surprised – these are winter treats for the birds. But it’s not only the feather friends who get the yummies for Christmas. Norway is also known best for Marzipan! (And I am known for loving it like crazy – but that’s an entirely different story!)

It has been said by Nizar, a marzipan manufacturer, that Norwegians (and their guests) consume more than 40 million pieces of marzipan figures over the Christmas period!

You will know the Christmas buzz has set it when entire sections of Norwegian supermarkets start dedicating whole sections and aisles to Christmas Marzipan. The star of these almond and sugar paste confectionaries is the Marzipan Pig.

So if you are like me, somebody who enjoys anything Marzipan, you’ll have an extra reason to be in Norway during the Christmas time.

On Christmas day, it is a tradition in Norway to eat risgrøt – a yummy rice porridge flavored with cinnamon, milk, vanilla, and raisins.

Risgrot in Norway
It might not look like much, but it’s delicious!

A single almond is hidden in the porridge. Whoever gets the almond in his bowl receives the marzipan pig as a prize and is hailed the luckiest person in the room!

Of course, you could just go to the supermarket and buy yourself some lucky marzipan pigs to munch on but hey – it’s not the same!

Another yummy treat that you might receive is the cone-shaped krumkaker. These cookies are usually made by hand and are delightfully light and tasty – a traditional Norwegian pastry.

Another thing that you need to look forward to is the Julebord, literally meaning Christmas tables.

These are dinner parties held for family and close friends held usually on the weekends leading up to Christmas with the biggest spread on Christmas day.

If you want to impress your friends with your knowledge of the Norwegian language, don’t forget to check out my previous article where I teach you how to say Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year in Norwegian.

And since you’re in Norway, be ready for snow, snow, and more snow! Many people favor going up to the mountains to hit the slopes.

winter holidays in norway

With the longer nights and shorter days, it’s a good idea to be outdoors while you can – otherwise you’d be stuck munching on sweet treats at home the whole time.

When in Norway, be ready to hop from home to home, visiting your friends and the families of your friends.

It begins on Christmas Eve dinner where you’re sure to find ribbe (pork ribs or pork belly, bone in), but lutefisk (cod cured in lye), pinnekjøtt (dry-cured ribs of lamb), boiled cod, ham roast, or turkey.

You wash it all down with a generous swig of juleøl (“Christmas beer”) which is already sold as early as late November.

You can also opt for Aquavit, a traditional Norwegian spirit brewed from potatoes which is quite popular on Christmas Eve.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Norway

Christmas in Norway

On New Year’s Eve, Norwegians usually gather at a friend’s home or together with family to welcome the new year together.

A big dinner is held and the adults wait late into the night. Just before the clock strikes twelve, people gather in the streets with small fireworks and sparklers.

At the stroke of midnight, the town hall bursts into grand fireworks display with the rest of the population chiming in with greetings and songs, their smaller sparklers in hand.

At this point, the festivities wind down as Norwegians spend the rest of New Year’s Day attending church and resting from all the celebration.

And if you haven’t tried reindeer or moose steak, the New Year’s Day dinner is where you will most likely get a taste of these Norwegian dishes.

The winter holidays in Norway are indeed touted to be one of the most festive, so you will surely be in for a unique winter holiday experience.


Christmas celebrations in Norway are, as you already saw above, really special and there are a lot of traditions – including traditional foods and drinks – to enjoy during this time of the year.

The Norwegian culture has put its mark nicely on the winter holidays, and I am sure you will absolutely enjoy your time spent here.

And if you’re planning to visit just for this part of the year, when everything costs even more than usually (and Norway IS an expensive country), make sure to read my previous article where I have shared my tips for visiting Norway without going broke.

Also, if there are any particular Christmas traditions or New Year’s traditions that you enjoy and I haven’t shared, don’t hesitate to let us all know by commenting below.

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