We here at the Norway Post send our best wishes to all our readers around the world this Christmas, from a Norway where most of us did not get a White Christmas this year. Only in the far North, a few regions are covered in the traditional "Julesnø".
The mildest November and December for decades, with rain and strong winds, allowd us only glimpses of snow-covered lawns and trees in the lowlands, both in the South and West.
In Norway, Christmas Eve is the most important day of Christmas, with Christmas Eve church services, followed by the traditional family Christmas dinner and the sharing of gifts around the Christmas treee.
Most families have decorated the tree late the night before or early in the morning on Christmas Eve.
The packages with gifts are usually placed at the foot of the tree, to be distributed later.
Churches, large and small are packed with people for the Family Service at 16:00, and even if you don't go to church the rest of the year, you get there for this service, or the one on Christmas Morning. According to statistics, 1.4 million Norwegians (pop. 4.95 mill) will have attended Church on Christmas Eve.
At 17:00 (5pm) local time on Christmas Eve all the church bells around the country chime, as a sign that Christmas has come!
Then it's home for the last touches to the Christmas dinner. Depending on where you come from, or your family traditions, it might be fresh cod, cured cod, pork roast or ribs of lamb. The latter is salted, dried and then steamed.
Traditions vary, but if there are small children in the house, after dinner it would then be time for the distribution of the gifts, either from a pile of packages from under the tree, or by a jolly 'Julenisse', the Norwegian version of Santa Claus.
Not all of us serve the usual '7 kinds' of Christmas cookies any more, but you'd be surprised at how many manage that and more!
In many families, the singing of traditional Christmas songs and hymns is still a must, walking around the Christmas tree, holding hands and trying to remember all the 10 verses of the hymns one learned as a child.
Here follows the English translation of the most favourite Norwegian Christmas Carol of them all:
'Jeg er saa glad hver Julekveld' - "I Am So Glad Each Christmas Eve"
1.I am so glad each Christmas Eve, the night of Jesus' birth! Then like the sun the star shone forth, and angels sang on earth.
2.The little child in Bethlehem, He was a King indeed! For he came down from heav'n above to help a world in need.
3.He dwells again in heaven's realm, The Son of God today; And still he loves his little ones and hears them when they pray.
4.I am so glad each Christmas Eve! His praises then I sing; He opens now for ev'ry child the palace of the king.
5.When mother trims the Christmas tree which fills the room with light, She tells me of the wondrous star that made the dark world bright.
6.And so I love each Christmas Eve, and I love Jesus too; And that he loves me ev'ry day I know so well is true.
Text: Marie Wexelsen (1832-1911) Tr. : Peter A Sveeggen (1881-1959)
A Blessed Christmas to you all! from us here at Norway Post!