Advent in Norway is the time to prepare for Christmas. It starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas day, just after the last sunrise in the North. At this time Norwegians bring out their lights to hang in the windows for the dark season. Some lights are small lamps that hang down the window. This gives the effect of sun shining through the window (especially handy during the dark season). Some people have large paper stars (below), others have five or seven stick candelabras that sit on the sill. We quite like our snowflakes, a new addition for our home (above).
The lovely and decadent things start appearing in the stores in November for Advent. Purple is the colour of the season and it is usual for Norwegians to dress their homes with purple things – bed sheets, towels, curtains, tablecloths and cushions. Silver, gold and white always accompany the dressing of a house.
With only a week left until Advent starts, we have already put up the kid’s Advent calendars. There are many types of Advent calendars but we have the most typical ones – wall hangers with pockets. They aren’t filled yet as this year is taking longer than normal to find little cheap surprises. It is tricky to find cheap gifts in Norway so we start shopping online for little trinkets about a month beforehand.
Traditionally, calendars were filled with baked goods and hand-made crafts. Today some of the most common non-food calendar gifts are pens, matchbox cars, bubbles, trolls, chap sticks, jewelry, ornaments, lego figures and cookie cutters. A popular modern Advent calendar is a string of mini pepperkaker (ginger bread) with countdown numbers written in icing.
Advent season is celebrated with lots of candles. It is normal to have a few candle settings in different places in the house. Our dining table setting is a four stick circular candelabra. We place it inside a wreath that is decorated with tinsel, ornaments and pinecones. We also have another Advent candelabra – a row setting made of cast iron in the TV-room. Some Norwegians have extra settings in windows or a welcome set in the entry hall. We light the first candle on Advent Sunday, two candles on the second Sunday, and so forth. Some Norwegians use just one candle and burn it down to a marker on each Sunday.
Advent Sunday marks the start of the Christmas concert season. A lot of towns have their first Christmas concerts on this day. Christmas concerts can happen as late as the 1st of January (because remember that the first day of Christmas in Norway starts on the 25th of December. Traditionally Christmas lasts for 20 days after the 25th, therefore ending on the 13th of January.)
Advent Sunday is also the traditional day for Lighting the Christmas tree (video) in the town square. This is a big event in many cities around the country as the community celebrates together the coming of Christmas.