Christmas in Norway is a long season of feasting and festivities that commences toward the end of November and runs all the way into early January. Each year the season is celebrated with two public holidays on Christmas day and the day after Christmas.
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The Christmas season begins with “pre-Christmas” parties called “julebords,” which can take place at private homes or at public restaurants. Technically, this pre-Christmas celebration has to do with the Advent season on the Christian calendar, but the focus is often on feasting and enjoying oneself with friends and family.
On 23 December comes “Little Christmas Eve.” The eve of Christmas eve is the time to decorate the tree, make gingerbread castles, eat hot rice pudding with cinnamon and butter on top, and if luck is with you, find an almond in your rice pudding.
When “real” Christmas Eve arrives, it is time to rush out and finish off your last-minute shopping and prepare for a large festive meal in the evening. Many Norwegians will also attend services on Christmas Eve and dine and open presents later that night.
In some parts of Norway, children will go carolling while costumed as shepherds, one of the Three Wise Men, or other characters from the Biblical nativity story. They may even wear paper star hats on their heads to remind of the star of Bethlehem.
Christmas decorations in Norway typically include wreaths, lights, nativity scenes, gingerbread houses, paper hearts, nisse (Santa’s gnomes), Heavenly angels, and trees decked out with tinsel, garlands, and various other ornaments.