wood cabin in the snow

God Jul! Our Norwegian Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and, though I might be biased, I think Norway does Christmas better than anyone. Read on to discover our Nordic traditions and be inspired to sprinkle a touch of Scandi on your festive celebrations


December in my home town of Kristiansand is a magical time, with Christmas concerts in the main church, a big Christmas tree in the central Square and a saxophone playing from the clock tower every afternoon. And, of course, everything is dusted in snow and twinkling with lights, which adds to the magic.

Many people in Norway begin their festive rituals on the last weekend of November, when they bake traditional Christmas cookies. We don’t do things by halves and there’s usually at least seven different kinds going into the oven.

This year our Christmas market in Kristiansand's main square runs from 25 November –21 December, and there are similar markets all over Norway. Here, you can shop for everything from crafts to food, and you can also strap on your skates and visit the big ice rink next door. 

Across Scandinavia, our main Christmas celebrations take place on Julaften, Christmas Eve (24th December). Our day traditionally starts with a slow morning, watching classic old Walt Disney movies and eating rice pudding porridge. There is always a hidden almond in it and whoever finds it wins a marzipan pig!

Before Christmas dinner we walk up to the churchyard and place a candle on the grave of those who can’t be with us. It has become such a widespread tradition that the whole graveyard is lit up and it’s very special. 

Afterwards we go home and open the door to the whole house smelling of our delicious Christmas dinner of Pinnekjøtt, which is salt-cured lamb ribs, served with mashed root vegetables. We have kålerabi, which is swede, and boiled potatoes.

It’s quite a heavy meal so we like to wash it down with a few shots of Aquavit, which is a strong Norwegian spirit flavoured with herbs. It is thought to aid digestion and definitely gets us in the festive spirit, ready to open our presents after dinner.

Then on 25th December, it's time for a long lie in (if we’re lucky!) and a relaxing day, often meeting up with extended family for dinner.


Whatever your plans for the festive period, don’t forget to visit our NORSK cafe in Haddenham for a coffee and a delicious festive treat.