Traditional Christmas Greeting: "Gul Jul"
Location: Scandinavia
Tree Type: Traditional
Decorations:

  • Stars
  • National flags
  • Rosemailed ornaments

Traditions: Holiday festivities begin weeks before Christmas with the brewing of the Christmas beer (Juleil). The brewing of this beer traces its roots to the beer that was brewed for the Old Norse mid-winter sacrificial celebration of Joulu. Joulu was a festival of lights marking the change from winter darkness to spring's light. The Vikings during this feast would toast (Skal) the goddess Frly and wish each other peace and good fortune for the coming year. In 900 A.D. King Haakon I declared that joulu would be held in celebration of Christmas rather than for Frly.

Advent signals the beginning of the holiday season. Though this period is a time for religious preparation it is also a time for holiday preparation. Seasonal pork dishes are prepared and seven different kinds of small cakes are prepared. Decorations are made during this time and concerts are held in the churches and auditoriums.

December 13th is known as Lussinatten and was considered the longest night of the year. From this night until Christmas is a time for all manners of strange and magical happenings. Animals are given the power to talk with one another. Trolls, gnomes, goblins along with Lossi, a very powerful enchantress roamed these nights. The first celebration of the holiday season comes on, St. Lucia Day. It is the first festival of light. A young girl dressed in white robe with a crown of lights (candles) and a candle in her hand visits schools, hospitals and other public places bringing light into the winter darkness.

The house is thoroughly cleaned and enough wood is chopped to last through the first three days of Christmas. In the rural areas the farm buildings and animals are protected by the painting of crosses on the doors of the out buildings. The tradition of the Christmas tree did not reach Norway until the later half of the nineteenth century when the tradition was introduced from Germany. The tree is decorated on Christmas Eve by the parents and kept behind closed doors until the evening.