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Norwegian Visitor, Traditions and Myths

By Michele Johnson

Norwegian Visitor by Pipka
Norwegian Visitor by Pipka

Skies are the necessary transportation mode that the Norwegian Visitor uses to visit children in remote Norwegian villages at Christmas time. Sometimes woodland creatures join him, like the white hare that is happily gliding down the hill by his side. Santa’s knitted thick wool Norwegian sweater, hat and gloves keep him toasty warm during this long journey through a freezing night, while children are tucked under down comforters in warm beds, waiting his arrival. Santa will be bringing an abundance of toys to place under the freshly cut tree that is decorated with tiny ornaments made of woven straw and hand carved animals. There may be a plate of buttered lefsa sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar waiting for Santa to nourish him through the rest of his journey on this busy winter night.

In Norway Christmas traditions and myths include elements of old pagan traditions and Jewish Hannukah.

  • Julaften is Christmas Eve, also known as "Little Christmas Eve." Many families have their own traditions that evening, which include decorating the Christmas tree. Families love to make gingerbread houses. They enjoy eating risengrynsgrøt; a hot rice pudding served with sugar, cinnamon, and butter. An almond is hidden in the pudding, and if the almond turns up in your portion, you win a marzipan pig!

  • Most Norwegians exchange presents on Christmas Eve after the family gets together for the festive main Christmas meal. Christmas Day is much quieter and filled with friends stopping by for a holiday visit.

  • One tradition is the practice of leaving out a sheath of wheat for the birds to eat over the Christmas holidays.

  • Many Norwegians believe in the “Nisse,” who is busy keeping watch of the farm animals, so many families will leave out a bowl of porridge to keep them from going hungry.

  • One custom has been since the late 1940s. Norway gives a huge tree to Great Britain every year. This tree is given as a way to say “thank you” for the support that the United Kingdom gave to Norway during World War II.

God Jul! (Merry Christmas)


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