It’s about time to get back to the main theme of my Terella; sharing about Norwegian culture and traditions. Nothing to me is more traditional, a time filled with expectation and anticipation, than advent time. Not that I consider myself especially Christian, but when the first Sunday of Advent appears, a lot of lovely memories are running through my head. Advent of course refers to the four weeks before Christmas – the final count down:-)

To get into the right mood, I had another quality time today with my wife At ‘Norsk Folkemuseum’ – the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History – where you can experience and learn about traditional Norwegian culture and history. Walk with me down the memory lane while I show you some of the pics we took (mostly with a Nikon CoolPix cam. as it’s quite dark in Norway at this time of the year you know).

Let me start with a Christmas house entrance decorated with garland and of course ‘Julenek’: A symbol of Christmas in Norway. It is a stalk of oats tied to a pole. Traditionally, it was good luck if birds ate from the juleneks. It symbolized hope for good farming. Today, people throughout Norway hang juleneks as a general symbol of hope.

Norsk Folkemuseum gives excellent insight in how people lived hundreds of years ago. So let me take you into a Christmas decorated house from the 1890s. In the living room, the table is sets with the family’s best china. There are seven children in the house, and several of them sleep on the floor. The only way to have room for the Christmas tree is to hang it from the ceiling. The Christmas decorations are home made of course, some from glossy paper and some from newspaper. I was fortunate enough to live in a bigger house and had only one sister so we had the tree on the floor. I do remember though, that most of the Christmas decorations were home made. I have some of them on our Christmas tree still, but I have to get back to that as the tree mustn’t be decorated until the day before Christmas Eve you know!

Another interesting little thing caught my eye when we went through all this old building, a cradle hanging from the ceiling and with a child inside. This child is ‘reimet’ as you can see which means to wrap the child’s legs with a wool cloth and tie a ribbon around the outside. They did that for practical reasons up until the beginning of the 20th century. It was impossible for mom to keep an eye on the little one while preparing for Christmas with all the cooking, baking and cleaning. They also thought the babies would get stronger and straight legs by doing that. I’m glad they didn’t believe that anymore when I was a child:-). My grandfather was ‘reimet’ though and he lived to 97 years of age. So it obviously wasn’t too bad anyway.

The Christmas marked at the museum is a collection of Norwegian hand craft and our food tradition. Let me give you some examples:


Christmas market at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History
(Taken with my Nokia mobile phone)

The four Sundays of advent are often traditionally celebrated with four candles with one to be lit each Sunday. Each candle has a specific meaning associated with different aspects of the Advent story. The first one almost always symbolizes expectant hope sometimes associated with prophecy. I’ll end this post with another Norwegian hand craft example:

So today at dinner, our advent wreath was at the table with one candle lit. By this I declare Advent time begun and I hope I have infected you with some anticipation. There will be more of this in the next four weeks, so stay tuned as I’ll love to share with you!

42 Comments

  1. We are also celebrating the first Sunday in Advent here today.
    I so enjoy reading about your traditions in Norway. I have a link in my post today about another blogger from Norway who is posting also about Advent..
    I think sharing our traditions adds to the joy of this season..
    :)

  2. I find the Julenek particularly interesting. I love traditions and my family has their own for the Advent season. We always had the Advent wreath with candles and also the Advent calendar with small treats.

    Thank you for so much interesting information and photographs.

  3. Hmmm I didnt notice that since I am uber busy here! As usual lovely pictures Renny! Hope I can see you again around Dec 29-ish or something

  4. Very interesting! Although Minnesota (where I grew up) has many Norwegian traditions – I had not heard of Advent until I was an adult living in North Dakota. Beautiful photographs of the handicrafts – there are things to aspire to there!

  5. Please tell us more about your Christmas celebrations and traditions. I love to read about how we all have our own ways to share the season all over the world. Please more…. and I do so love your pictures. Our phone pictures cannot hold a candle to yours. Our phones must be way different here in the states. Thank you for sharing!!

  6. Oh Wow! So enriching and interesting to find out more about this tradition through your blog :D

    Thank you so much

  7. Pretty interesting, even though we have similar traditions in Sweden :-)

    But I do wonder about your “Rakfisk”, do you have any knowledge about for how long you have eaten that in Norway? Did Rakfisk exist 1890?

  8. Happy Advent Renny.

    It’s a beautiful look into old traditions.

  9. it’s Christmas already. just remember that advent also means getting your heart ready for the coming of Christ.

    ey, the crib and the tied baby is scary. hehehe. am glad it’s not a popular tradition here.

    and the queer chef pimped me here. though i usually visit. i know i still have to mention her. hehehe ;p

  10. Oh Renny – this is such a beautiful post. And all of the Christmas markets are so incredible.

    I was able to talk P into taking me to the only known marketplace in Vancouver right now. It was filled with great shops and a bit more of Christmas atmosphere but nothing like it is in Europe. You can imagine my withdrawls…

    Thanks for taking pics… It’s wonderful. Ok I’m so tired from being out all day long!

  11. It’s pretty much the same here!Christmassy spirit is in air indeed:)

  12. Happy Advent renny!

  13. Mother of Invention

    Christmas is my favourite season so I just love this post! I had never heard of Julenet, the hanging of straw bundles. It is neat. We hang mistletoe and wreaths, and garland of real pine, spruceand cedar and many have lights on them.
    The crafts are beautiful, especially what look like embroidered slippers. (My post today is on Craft Sales vs. going to crazy Malls to shop, so you know I love Craft sales!)

    I don’t do advent in my house but churches do. I might start that tradition at home…whoops..missed one already! We have advent calendars for kids which have a mini-chocolate behind each pop out day in Dec. until Christmas. Some kids just eat’em all at once since they can’t wait!

    Thanks for this. I’m going to pass this on to my friend who visited Oslo last year while her son was at University there.

  14. Mother of Invention

    Oh yeah, that wrapping up the baby thing makes good sense. Mom’s hands are too busy at this time of year! Too bad they don’t have something like that fot teenagers! LOL!

  15. Me and my dad realized just before midnight that it was the first sunday in advent, to much overtime work by dad and exam reading by me made us forget everything! But now we have decorated my parents house for advent, and`after reading your lovely post I am really getting in to the christmas spirit :) Thank you!

  16. Thanks for sharing this Renny! My own family’s tradition involves food more than anything. Next week Mom will start making lefse, rosettes and cookies and the Christmas tree will go up. Christmas eve we would have oyster stew and the Christmas meal varies but we always have Norwegian Rice Pudding and lefse. And presents. There’s always the presents. ;)

  17. I made our Adventstake this year – simple yet nice. Aren’t the best china from Porsgrund? Hmmm, I have to check out that Christmas market, too!

  18. To All: Thanks for all your lovely comments and for sharing your own memories and traditions about the Christmas season. I thought I was well into Advent mood yesterday when I posted, but today when reading all this, I get into an even more Advent mood.
    This really shows how wonderful our blogsphere is. I always say it’s a giver gain, and this is the proof of the pudding!
    From this you can see how much we share and have in common even if living wide apart. There are similarities and differences, but it’s all about how lovely things can be seen in the right prospective.
    Thank you all and everyone for all you’ve shared and for taking your time to comment and Happy Advent time back to you all:-) I am inspired and will of course share more as Advent takes us closer and closer to Christmas!

  19. happy Advents,Renny!

    that house built in 1890??wow!!so,are the chinawares antique,too?
    the xmas market was fascinating,it showed us some diff touches of xmas :)

    i hope everyday is an advent day for us :)

    advance merry xmas,Renny!!

  20. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. I love history and candles!

  21. Oh this is great! I like learning stuff like that.

  22. Wow…what a great experience reading yr blog! It must b a wonderful environment to celebrate christmas in Norway! I love the christmas decoration for main entrance and was suprise about cradle with the children…Thx for sharing

  23. Hi Renny, so fun you went to the Christmas Market at “Folkemuseet”. You see, I grew up as neighbour to the museum, and all the boys around did creep under the fence to have free admission to this very exiting place with all the old buildings. I remeber how we were thrilled by all the old tools, kitchentools and more solid ones for farming and construction.
    The Christmas Market at Folkemusseet is by far as famous as the one in Tivoli, Copehagen, but from what I can interpret from your great pictures: It’s a better on.
    Z U soon

  24. Nice traditions. Very informative post as always. You are my wikipedia for Norway!
    Matching pictures! Good work. You should have been a journalist.

  25. oh how lovely. the julenek are so interesting. i hope maybe you’ll do some more christmas posts too. it’s such fun to learn the holiday traditions elsewhere and it looks like you have lots to tell about. i’m also curious how early the sun is setting at this time of year. how many hours of daylight are you having?

  26. So interesting-thank you!

  27. PS-I just sent the link to your blog to one of my friends whose family is also from Norway. She lives in Washington State, and I just went to visit her in October. She took me to a very cool place called Poulsbo, Washington which is kind of like a “Little Norway” in the middle of the Pacific Northwest.

  28. That was wonderful! I love reading about traditions in other parts of the world! Thanks for commenting on my blog and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas too!

  29. Happy Advent renny!

    same tradition ;)

    do u also celebrate Nikolaus Day?

  30. The picture of the garland around the doorway is lovely. I’ve never been to a Christmas market but can’t wait to visit one after looking at your picturesque photos.

  31. Great write up and great pictures! Thanks for the insight.

  32. thanks for sharing with us what the tradition Norway had for the Christmas. can’t wait to see the update on the real Christmas :)

  33. Hey Renny!
    Thanks for the comment =)

    —–

    So it’s advent, yay! Not to loing until my birhtday and Christmas! :D

    I’ve been to the Norsk Folkemuseet a thooouuusand times!
    Hoho :) It’s so nice there!
    I’ve never been there during advent though, but I’m sure it was really nice (=
    Well. I’ll be back hohoXD
    Happy 6th of december!

  34. Yaiks! I haven’t started decorating yet. I have not visited Norsk folkemuseet during the advent season. I hope that I would have time for it this year.

    The christmas spirit is a bit late in our home but I have started watching Jul i Tøyengata and has given the children julekalender, does that count for christmas spirit? :)

  35. Oh Renny ~~ what a beautiful post! I just love learning about your culture. Those gifts look so lovely, and I really enjoyed your story about the reimet. I wish you and your family a very blessed Advent.

  36. I love it. I am such a sucker for holiday traditions.

  37. Wow, I don’t believe that I’ve heard of Advent before this! I will have to share your post with some of my relatives over here.
    What is the meaning behind this tradition?

  38. Our main task during Advent is to make the Advent wreath and place it on the table. Each night at dinner we try to light that week’s candle and all the children get to take turns. The main part of Advent is the countdown until Christmas day and then the following 12 days of compulsory celebrations!
    Woo hoo!

  39. Many of our churches and homes here in the States celebrate the season with their advent wreaths. I have done that myself in the past. But we put up our Christmas trees long before Christmas Eve (although, I think some do it that late). I had both of our trees decorated the weekend after Thanksgiving. And I will keep them both up till the end of January! They are so beautiful and full of light that I can’t bear to have them up for less time than that! The only goal is to have them down before Valentine’s Day. :)

    Thanks once again, Renny, for your great traditional post!

  40. Norway is simply beautiful. I hope someday I will be able to travel there and other places. :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

  41. Wonderful Pictures! I LOVE the Garland around the door!
    Thanks for sharing!

  42. I love all the photos!

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