Where does Santa Claus live? According to the Finns, he lives in Lapland on the mountain Korvatunturi or in the village Rovaniemi. Definitely in Finland ... For the Danes, he certainly lives in their northernmost province, Greenland. "No," say the Swedes. He lives and works in the Swedish province of Dalarna, not far from the village of Mora.
And the Norwegians? They agree only on the point that the Nisser - the Norwegian Santa Claus - certainly lives in Norway. But where exactly - this is also the case of the ghosts: It is not clear whether he lives in the Telemark in the Nissedal, in Drøbak, Røros, Spitsbergen or Egersund.
But at least it is agreed across national borders that Santa Claus lives with his assistants in the north, somewhere in Scandinavia. And this festival has a correspondingly high significance in the north of Europe ...
Christmas in Norway - a Christmas fairytale
Fresh powder snow in the endless forests, reindeer roam through nature, through the windows of the old wooden houses shine countless candles, the heat and light give as the lakes freeze and the sun hardly rises over the horizon. In the long, cold and clear nights, thousands of stars twinkle in the night and in the dim light of the day a very special peace settles over the land at the end of the year .... Kitsch out of a Hollywood duds? No, that's how we experienced the Christmas season in Norway and we can not imagine anything better.
The Christmas time is not limited to just a few days. Obviously it is a special season for the Norwegians with their customs and traditions. As the whole country comes to rest under the winter snowy weather, the sparkling stars, the many candles and the dancing northern lights give the land a magical glow.
The "Julefest" ("Christmas" in Norwegian) begins in Norway on December 13 with the Lucia Festival. Everyone celebrates this day in kindergartens and schools. In the morning of this day a choir with candles through the dark rooms, distributed Lucia pastry and sings songs to the feast.
On the 23rd of December it really starts: one celebrates the "little" Christmas Eve. In most Norwegian families, the Christmas tree is cleaned and gingerbread is baked this evening. For a proper pre-Christmas dinner, it's also a good idea to eat the traditional cream ("Risengrynsgrøt") with sugar, cinnamon and some butter. An almond is hidden in the porridge and whoever finds it first wins a marzipan pig!
Many village communities, clubs, companies and families organize a special feast in the days before Christmas, the "Julebord" ("Christmas table") - a particularly appealing buffet. You make yourself smart and meet either in the parish hall, a restaurant or even at home to eat the best and finest delicacies, which brought the year to the people.
We were lucky enough to witness the evening in December in the small village of Elgå, when the locals met for the "Julebord". It was quite uncomplicated for us two chairs placed at a table and we were quickly and warmly received. It was an unforgettable evening and we like to think back to this dreamlike atmosphere.
However, the most important day in Norway is also the "July Day" ("Christmas Eve" on 24th December). But how is this celebrated?
On December 24th, Christmas will be ringing at 17.00 hrs from all the church towers in the country. Many Norwegians go to the many small churches in the country to attend the Christmas service and sing traditional Norwegian Christmas carols.
The Christmas Eve ("Julaften") is then often and gladly spent in the closest family circle. In most families there is a traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner. This feast differs in the different regions of the country. Meanwhile, the children barely keep it in their chair, because after the banquet comes the "Julenissen" - the Norwegian Santa Claus ...
The "Julenissen" is not our Santa Claus, but rather a kind of troll or goblin. He brings gifts for the children on Christmas Eve, accompanied by his helpers. Legend has it that the Norwegian "Julenissen" lives in the stable and at the same time is the protector of the yard over the year. You can find it as a picture on the Norwegian Christmas cards and as a figure in the Christmas decoration.
To soften it up, the children are putting Julenissen bowls with a sour cream porridge, the Rømmegrøt, at the door. They are afraid he will play pranks on them and tease them. In the countryside, the animals on the farm and in the area are considered. The birds of the forest get the "Julenek", a bundle of oats, which is tied to the fence. The cattle in the yard in turn gets a special Christmas food.
After the presentation, one follows an old custom, the "Tour of the Christmas tree". Everyone takes hold of their hands, forming a circle around the tree, walking around it, singing Christmas carols. A very emotional moment that often closes the evening.
Not only at the "Julaften" is served up what basement and chamber give. Throughout Christmas, many regional delicacies are feasted on. To meet you often and like to socialize. But which specialties make the perfect meal during the Christmas season and on the holy evening in Norway?
Typical Norwegian Christmas dishes are in most regions of Norway Svineribbe (ribs), Pinnekjøtt (cured lamb rib) or occasionally also fish dishes (cod, cod). From November, there is also the "Lutefisk" to buy in the country, especially in the north of Norway. This is dried fish that has been put into a special lye for a long time. It is often served with mashed potatoes and aquavit, which you also urgently need ...
For dessert, there is a special Christmas cake ("julekake") with raisins, nuts and cardamom. Adults like to drink Norwegian Christmas beer ("Juleøl") and, of course, a rich aperitif after meals ("Akevitt"). For the children there is a sweet red lemonade ("Julebrus") during the Christmas season.
In the pre-Christmas period, the houses are decorated with gnomes, angels, hearts, cones, stars, a nativity scene or a gingerbread house. In the gardens and on the farms trees and bushes are plastered with fairy lights.
Mostly natural materials are used for the Christmas decoration. Very popular among many Norwegians is a poinsettia in a rustic wooden box. This is decorated with twigs, dried moss and pieces of bark.
Meanwhile, in Norway, the Christmas tree has prevailed. For this trees are often used, which you like to beat in the countryside. The tree decoration is often made by the children and adults themselves. One decorates the Christmas tree in Norway with many lights, tinsel and long chains with small Norwegian paper flags.
The Christmas season in Norway lasts until the 6th of January, the day of the "Three Magi". In some regions, even until the 13th of January, the day of the "Holy Knut" is celebrated.
In any case, we can recommend you to spend the pre-Christmas period or even Christmas in the winter wonderland. Many impressive Christmas markets, especially in the east of the country (for example in Lillehammer), invite the visitors. An overview of the most beautiful Norwegian Christmas markets can be found here on the German->
And if you want to send your personal wish list to Santa Claus, please use the official address in Norway: Julenissens Postkontor, Torget 4, 1440 Drøbak, Norway
Now that's clear and obvious, where Santa Claus lives in Scandinavia ... Or? In any case we say: "MERRY CHRISTMAS" or completely true to style:
If you want to make yourself comfortable with a really heartwarming Christmas story from Norway, then why not read in our Christmas fairy tale how three Nisser have saved Christmas for Wigand ...