Christmas Tree and Food Traditions in Norway

Norwegian’s celebration starts Christmas Eve at 6PM with a feast, a walk around the tree and presents opening. Let me share in a nutshell:

Most everyone has either a spruce or a pine tree in their living room – decorated with white lights, tinsel, Norwegian flags and other ornaments for Christmas. As a child and with my children of course, we made paper baskets of shiny, colored paper. Click the pic to see some from decades back!

Norway Christmas Tree

The baskets can be filled with candy or nuts. Chains made of colored paper are also very popular. Christmas trees became common in Norway from around 1900 and I guess you know it’s originally from Germany. Before presents are opened, we “circle the Christmas tree”; all the family holds hands to form a ring around the tree, and walk around the tree singing carols. It was fun but hard when I was a child, only to see all the presents – however the adults knew we would be far to busy after opening them :-)

I often post about food, so let me share some of what Norwegians eat at Christmas Eve too:

Christmas food traditions vary from district to district. Coastal traditions are different from those found inland and the traditions of Eastern Norway are different from those of Western Norway. Years ago, diets reflected locally available foods and the resources and bounty of nature. I have tried them all (click all pics to enlarge and enjoy!):

Lutefisk Norwegian Yule dish
In the coastal districts and in North Norway, the traditional Christmas dinner naturally consists of Lutefisk, cod or halibut. Read my post about how to make and eat Lutefish here!

Norwegian Christmas Day Smorgasbord #3
In Eastern Norway Pork RibsRibbe – pork patties, Christmas sausage and spiced cabbage.

Norwegian salted lamb's ribs
Western Norway supplies with delicious mutton, so what is more natural than Salted Lamb’s RibsPinnekjøtt – with mashed rutabaga and I like Brusselssprouts and cranberry jam. Read my post about how to make and eat it here!


On Christmas Days (both the 25th and 26th of December are holidays in Norway), the family feast gatherings go on and we all are invited to my parents for home made Christmas food Mom have made. You’re welcome to join us by clicking my post from two years back: Norwegian Christmas Day Smorgasbord.

So from all of me, to all of you: Merry Christmas – or God Jul, as we say it in Norway!

48 Comments

  1. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Renny!

    greetings form Holland.

    RennyBA
    Thanks Thess and the same to you and yours!

  2. God Jul og Godt Nytt År!

    Is that really cranberry sauce or do you mean tyttebær (aka lingonberry or mountain cranberry)? I love tyttebær! http://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyttebær

    RennyBA
    Takk, det samme til deg!
    Thanks for asking; yep, its tyttebær – my fave!

  3. What a delightful post. I so enjoy learning about the customs of Norway.

    God Jul to you and yours. Big hug to you and Diane. :)

    RennyBA
    Thanks Sandee, you know I love to hear that someone learn from my posts!
    Same to you and hugs back from both of us :)

  4. Wow those look goodddd!

    Have a blessed Christmas, Renny and family! :D

    RennyBA
    Glad you liked it too!
    Wishing you and your family the same! :D

  5. The food looks great as usual, Renny. I always enjoy learning about your food and traditions.

    I wish you and your family a happy, blessed and joyous Christmas, my friend. :-)

    Much Love,
    Diane

    RennyBA
    I knew you would like it Diane and glad you find it an interesting read too.
    Wishing you the same – hugs from me and Diane :-)

  6. God Jul to you and family! Your traditional food looks so delicious! I find the walk around the tree so nice! I will ask Anaïs if they do the same in Finland around! Have a beautiful day tomorrow by your Mom! I’m sure it will still delicious!

    RennyBA
    Thanks Claudie – you too and I’m glad you liked the food. I believe the Fins does it too – at least if there is children in the house.

  7. That looks absolutely wonderful Renny!

    I’m sorry to have been absent a lot recently – preparations for Christmas and family have been my excuse – but I do want to wish you a wonderful time for Christmas!

    RennyBA
    Thanks A.!
    No need for excuse dear blog friend – I was hit by the same :-)
    Wishing you the same!

  8. God Jul, Renny and Diane! May your day be filled with warmth, love and laughter.

    RennyBA
    Thanks Maribeth – wishing the same to you and Jack.

  9. Pingback: Christmas Party Online » Blog Archive » Christmas Tree and Food Traditions in Norway

  10. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas, Renny, and that 2009 brings you all you wish for.

    Hugs from Australia.

    Robyn

  11. Wishing you and your family some wonderful food on this Christmas and a peaceful New Year! God Jul og Godt Nytt Ar!

  12. Happy holidays! All the best for 2009!

  13. I always enjoy and learn something from your posts, especially about food. My wife will roast a nice turkey tomorrow. On Christmas we usually have turkey, sometimes a ham or a nice roast beaf, but never fish. I like fish cooked many ways but have never tried lutefisk. Maybe there are not many Norwegians in Oklahoma.

    Garrison Keiller has talked about lutefisk on his Prarie Home Companion radio show and it sounds kind of scary – a gelatinous mass of reconstituted dried cod. If I had the opportunity I would try it out of curiosity but I would be suspicious. Merry Christmas!

  14. Merry xmas Renny :)

    -Thomas who is still full of pinnekjøtt

  15. Hello from Spain!! Merry Christmas to you and yours. Hugs from me to you

  16. Merry Christmas from France!

    I wonder why Norwegians put flags on their trees? I don’t think even overly-patriotic Americans do that…

  17. Hello Renny,

    Merry Christmas to you and Diane and family! Happy Holidays!

  18. Merry Christmas to you and your family Renny.. hope you guys have a wonderful New Year as well :)

  19. Merry Christmas to you and your family :)

    Was really good to read about your way of celebrating Christmas and the food is all the more appealing :) I’m linking your blog to my favourite reads.

  20. WoW! Your tree is beuatiful & the food looks delicious! Your blog is always such a treat Renny! Merry Christmas to you & Diane! :)

  21. God Jul!

    May your Christmas celebrations be filled with peace, hugs, good food, lovely prezzies, lots of warm fuzzy moments and all those marvellous things that make Christmas so special!

  22. wow, food!!! it looks good, renny.

    merry christmas!!! god jul! maligayang pasko!

  23. Merry Christmas today AND tomorrow, Renny, to you and yours (it’s still the 25th here in Atlanta as I write).

  24. Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family, Renny! I wish you lots of good tidings, peace and love this season and the year to come. :)

  25. Merry Christmas to you too. Thanks for sharing your celebrations with us :-)

  26. happy holidays, renny!
    looking forward to a better 2009

  27. Looks all delicious, but now after all these festivities I am full !
    Sorry I was late in everything, I had a very bad bronchitis and was happy to make it to Amsterdam where we celebrated Christmas with your son !
    If you and Diane are interested to see the big Christmas market in Brussels (I didn’t even know that it was that big ! (200 stands !!) it’s here on my http://gattinatravels.blogspot.com/ Worthwhile to see !

  28. Merry Christmas, Renny! Amazing variety in the food to go along with the festivities.

  29. here in the philippines, it’s a very long vacatiom. no work from dec. 25-jan2. companies would resume jan. 5 (monday)

    your food made me hungry. hehe. i like your xmas tree :)

    merry Christmas :)

  30. Oh, Renny, you are killing me with the food display! This is exactly how I picture traditional Xmases, but I guess you would know. After all, you live close to Santa!

    I celebrated surfing yesterday in Costa Rica, that was my Xmas. With tuna sandwiches at the hostel :lol:

    We keep on bumping into backpackers from Norway here, funny.

  31. hello Renny!

    Your template has changed?Wow!Nice header!
    Howve you been doing btw?I want to greet you a belated Merry Xmas and a Prosperous New Year to come!!

    Its always a great season…your christmas tree and the food are a good combination of a good holiday!!

    I wish you all the best this 2009!!

    Hugs,
    ghee

  32. Wow. That is one yummy meal. I haven’t tried lutefisk before; people say it isn’t your most agreeable food, but I can’t say I hate it until I try it. After all, I liked Danish pickled herring…

  33. What a great and tradional X_Mas meal. I It’s so delicious and tastes so good.
    Here in the high North.

    Honestly, since we lit the lights on the Family Grave:
    Well, I have not been the same old me.

    BTW. Håper dere har det utmerket i Mariestad. Savner dere.

  34. i’m very late getting around but as always i enjoy reading about the various traditions and celebrations. hoping your yule was a lovely time with family and friends and lots of good food.

    i haven’t had lutefisk but i recently had pickled herring for the first time.

    and i have to agree that the snow really helps brighten things up when there is so little daylight. i just wish we only got snow instead of the snow/slop/slush mixture falling out of the sky. the heavy, wet, slop is not very fun to play in but real good snow is.

  35. Another interesting post. Even though my grandfather was not from Northern Norway, we still ate lutefisk at Christmastime. As a youngster I didn’t care for the smell or taste of it. However as an adult, I enjoy it, although the smell still is not the most pleasant. Every Christmas we like to make lefse.

    God Jul og Godt Nytt År!

  36. Pingback: Weekly Round Up: Christmases all over Europe | Yankee in a New World

  37. Excellent posting!!!! Congrats!!!

    Happy New Year….

  38. Hi Renny,

    I’ve found your blog very interesting – I am trying to find any facts about Norway (not just travelling observations) but it isn’t much info here in the UK or I am not looking hard enough.

    Have a happy New Year!

  39. Hi My dear Friend,
    hope you are all well in your wonderful leisure Paradise, a place Anna and me have had the pleasure to met you all several times, and a place the most timid hint to return to;)))

    I just posted from our X-Mas dinner “Chez Niklas”.

    btw. Had a very positive meeting with Dorothy and Ragnvald this early afternoon at the Old Backery in Dröbak about IT-Lunsj.

    PS. I will also write to your e-mail

  40. It was a lovely Christmas and I must say that I chose a charming Christmas tree and made a lovely dinner too!! Glad most of all that I could share it with you and our family!! Hope we have a Happy New Year too!!! :-)

  41. Renny – I love all of the choices. Your food looked a bit like ours this year. Yummy! I think my stomach thinks too much before I eat, so we never take photos!

  42. It’s amazing how much your Christmas tree looks just like mine in Oakland, California. I guess the “Old Country” ways survived my immigrant family’s journey to America.

  43. Hi,

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  44. Pingback: Things I love/hate about Norwegian food « DianeCA’s Metamorphoses

  45. Pingback: Christmas traditions and myths at Yuletide in Norway - Christmas Tree Farm Blog

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  47. I think the Norwegian Food traditions during this Season reflects a more than a thousand year old tradition -from even before The Vikings.
    And the local traditions also tells the story about communications before Trains, Cars and Aeroplanes:
    It was and still is a challenge to cross the Mountains and fiords….

    Have a nice time with your Family and your famous X-Mas traditions.

  48. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    I love the food photos you posted. And what a lovely Christmas tree.

    Growing up, my family belonged to Sons of Norway here in the US. We always went to their annual Christmas party which included singing as we held hands and walked around the tree. I have very fond memories from those days.

    I always enjoy your posts. I hope you continue blogging from Norway.

    Debbie

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