Norwegian Christmas

Advent Season

In Norway, Advent season is when Norwegians prepare for Christmas. Even though it is the darkest time of the year, it is full of activity, lights, parties and yummy food.

Advent is essentially a countdown to the first day of Christmas, December 25th. The observance starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and is celebrated by lighting a candle. Traditionally, four candles are used to represent each Sunday – one lit on the first Sunday, two on the second, and so fourth. With each lighting of the candle, it is custom to sing the Advent Song.

Advent Candles

Advent season features the colour purple, as purple symbolises anticipation and preparation. Traditionally, four purple candles are used, however it is now common to have white candles, or even red. The candles are typically set in a table candelabra, either in a circle or a row, and placed on a table or in a window. A decorative plate is sometimes used with the base decorated with tinsel or baubles.

The Christmas Calendar is a feature of Advent season. Calendars start a countdown from the 1st of December to the 24th. Every day a surprise of goodies, toys or special messages, awaits. Advent calendars are usually wall hangings with pockets, however, there are also many modern varieties such as matchboxes with draws, a string of mini-stockings dressing windows, or a hanging clothesline with pegs.  A most recent addition is a string of gingerbread, each cookie with the number of the day, to be eaten.

Traditional Orange-clove Calendar

A more traditional Advent calendar is made with an orange and cloves. 24 cloves are spiked into the orange, which makes a yummy Christmasy smell. Each day a clove is taken out and when there are none left in the orange, you’ll know tomorrow is Christmas Day. These calendars are popular in Norway as they smell delicious and rest perfectly in table wreaths or Christmas platters

To make the orange-clove calendar:

  • 1 lovely smelling orange
  • 24 cloves with long stalks to mark each day from 1st of December to Christmas
  • Toothpick

Think of a pattern before you start pushing in the cloves – a heart, zig-zags, a tree, etc.  (Mine above is very imaginative… straight lines!)  Use a toothpick to mark out your design – the holes also help to put in the cloves. Insert the stalk end of the cloves into the orange. Each day of Advent, pull out a clove and refresh the Christmas smell in the room.

Concert Season

First Advent Sunday marks the start of the Christmas concert season in Norway, and a lot of towns have their first Christmas concert on this day.  Christmas concert season continues to the 1st week of January – there are 20 Day of Christmas, and so the season isn’t officially over until the 13th of January.

Lighting of the Christmas Tree

First Advent Sunday is also the day for the Lighting of the Christmas tree celebration in the town square.  This is a big event in many cities around the country as the community celebrates together the coming of Christmas by holding hands to walk around the tree, while singing Christmas songs.