Norway, a place of snow, tradition and more snow. This is my fifth Christmas here in Norway, since coming around 6 years ago I haven’t been able to let go and favour the UK – there’s no competition at all!
So it’s little wonder I try to visit at every opportunity I get, during these trips I have got to experience all the ins and outs of Norwegian living – especially at Christmas-time. So I have compiled a little, travel guide / what to expect, should you plan to visit or are just curious about a country not many people visit…
Place of Residence
I am very lucky that my girlfriend’s family have a cabin up in the mountains of Kvamskogen, an hour or so drive from the city of Bergen. The surrounding is idyllic, snowy and peaceful. It is my favourite place to be around Christmas time. Filled with tradition and decorations, the word cosy or dare I say it ‘hygge’ comes to mind.
Being based on a mountain this allows for skiing should the snow be at the right softness – we’re talking powdery snow. Easter time is usually when the snow is at it it’s best so I don’t think there will be much skiing going on this Christmas. Nonetheless the snow allows for some gorgeous pictures to be taken of the cabin in all it’s wooden glory!
The Christmas Tree
Why would you buy a plastic tree when you’re in the country most famous for its production of Christmas trees? In the city you may buy trees from local farmers or tree sellers, however, in the mountains you have these trees on your doorstep. So, as you can imagine there is only one way of getting them, the old-fashion hacksaw method. after locating and sawing down your tree you proceed to securing it to a sled and pulling it up the mountain.
If you know anything about the science behind landscapes you will know that less trees grow the higher the altitude is, luckily for us we are close to the top meaning we have to pull the tree from the bottom of the hill! Hey, at least it’s some amazing cardio for my lazy arse that will be gorging on chocolate and cakes during my stay here – there isn’t a gym for miles!
The morning of Christmas (24th December) begins with opening your advent gift (more of that later), which is followed by a greeting of God Jul and proceeding to open your Julestrømpe (Christmas candy stocking). After a full feast for breakfast, the rest of the morning is spent relaxing and watching Christmas movies on TV. There’s no opening presents in the morning here – you have to have some patience and wait till night-time.
The meal here is very different to the traditional Christmas dinner we are used to in the UK, turkey is replaced by pinnekjøtt (lamb), boiled potato, swede – unfortunately no pigs in blankets here but I can assure you the lamb is amazing!
Christmas gifts actually begin on the 1st December, here they like to create an advent calendar of gifts, they still have the chocolate advent calendar you open each day but alongside this is a mini gift – usually of small value but it is something nice to wake up to each morning. However, this idea can get pretty expensive real quick, if you think one gift per day for 24 days not including all the gifts on the actual Christmas day, it can add up. We decided to skip alternating days so we got a gift for 1,3,5,7 etc. We decided to keep the cost of the gifts low however Maren doesn’t stick to this and got me some really nice presents such as a personalised hip-flask, a Ted Baker travel wallet and some Grinch loungepants – which i’m wearing as I write this post.
When the 24th arrives the presents aren’t opened until night-time after the Christmas meal, the first time I experienced Christmas here I wasn’t sure how i’d manage to wait all that time after a lifetime of running down the stairs at 8am and getting stuck in. But now I actually prefer the wait, and opening your gifts with everyone sat around at night with the Christmas lights on is much cosier.
So that’s it, the Christmas survival guide for Norway, now it’s time for me to get back to my Christmas movies and sweet food, I’m only here for five days so the meal plan is out the window and i’m eating everything in sight. It will soon be new year so the health kick will begin then!
But until then have a merry Christmas, wherever you are in the world!