Mixed nuts – Kept in their shell for extra freshness and whenever you feel like one you just grab the nutcracker and break one open. (But you can also get shell-less nuts too.) Walnuts and hazelnuts are the most popular nuts, but you also get brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, almonds and peanuts. Figs and dates are often found in the same bowl. Th bowls are left on the dinning or coffee table for passers-by to have a treat.
Clementines – Nobody knows how this became a Christmas tradition, but during Christmas time these fruits sell by the cases. Stores often wage a ‘price war’ on clementines during December so prices are very low. The fresh orange colour brightens up the house and the tangy flavour goes well with nuts, marzipan and chocolate.
Marzipan – This delicious paste of almond, milk and sugar can be eaten plain or coated in chocolate. Some candy bars feature marzipan with jelly or chocolate. The marzipan pig is the most common shape for Christmas and is usually the prize for whoever finds the hidden almond nut in the Christmas porridge. Marzipan dough is great for making crafts and cake decorations. It can be dyed and shaped into all kinds of figurines. Marzipan is usually bought ready-made in stores, but those with patience, adventure and a good grinder can easily make it themselves.
Chocolate – At Christmas time bowls are filled with all kinds of chocolate, stuffed with yummy goodness: Raisins and nuts, butterscotch, strawberry jelly, marshmallow, marzipan, caramel or, for adults, rum and brandy. Confectioners always get very creative for the benefit of the choc-a-holic. All-sorts chocolate bags are a common open-bowl on the table to serve everyone’s taste.
Freia is a special Norwegian brand of chocolate (now owned by Kraft). It is normally bought in big slabs in the standard flavours plain, fruit and nut, crispy, smartie and hazel nut. Recently they have added almond brittle, wafer, strawberry bits and now traditional. (Freia always used real milk in their chocolate until Kraft took them over and changed to powder. Now a new traditional flavour has been brought out putting back real milk and costing 50% more.) But Freia chocolate is a Norwegian icon and it wouldn’t be a Norwegian Christmas without it.
Smågodt – These are ‘pick ‘n mix’ lollies. You can choose from jellies and chocolate, liquorice and marshmallows. Another popular lolly for Christmas in Norway is ‘Laban’. They are large jelly-men coated in sugar. They have recently brought out jelly-women (with breasts) and for Christmas jelly-nisse.
Danish Pastries – Pastry isn’t a Norwegian tradition, however, it is a Danish one. In Norway it is common to find jam and custard Danish pastries in the stores and on a Norwegian Christmas table. Norwegians are quite partial to making them themselves as they are easy-as-pie.
Julebrus – Christmas Soda. An artificial raspberry flavoured, bright red soft drink which usually leaves a funny metallic taste in your mouth. The kids love it! The flavour bears a resemblance to Red Cream Soda.
Christmas Beer – A whole selection of specially decorated Christmas beer hits the shelves at juletid. Mack Brewery in Tromsø always has a big selection with pretty Christmas labels. Beer only has four ingredients – water, barley, yeast and hops. To get different flavours you just try different techniques of making – cooking longer, different yeast, longer brewing time, etc. Mack Brewery likes to experiment every year with a Christmas brand. Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they don’t. This year (2009) they didn’t.
Christmas Cookies – The “seven sorts” is a must-have for every Norwegian home. And you need to bake them yourself – store bought is cheating! See our special page on Norwegian Christmas biscuits.
Risgrøt – This is Norwegian rice porridge. It is sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and has a dollop of butter melting in the warm rice called the ‘golden eye’. It is eaten every Saturday through out the year but at Christmas it is extra special as you can win the marzipan pig treat by finding a peeled whole almond in your porridge. This can be for supper or dessert.
Riskrem – This dish is just that, rice in whipped cream. This is a regular treat in Norway but a clear raspberry sauce makes it all Christmasy. This also can be eaten as supper or dessert.
Other Christmas Sweets and Treats: