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Holidays, Celebrations, Festivals, & Events in Norway

The Norwegians celebration a number of Christian holidays, national holidays, and well-known international holidays. No matter the celebration or event, most holidays in Norway are celebrated with wine and meat. Pork indicates an abundance of food so is popular at celebrations, but both lamb and turkey are also common dishes, despite the abundance of fish in the nearby seas.

Like most Christian countries, Norway celebrates the Christian holidays of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Christmas, Ascension Day, and White Monday; the holidays of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter change dates each year.

Christmas is celebrated every year on December 25 and is also celebrated the following day, which is known as second Christmas in Norway. This celebration usually begins on Christmas Eve with family. This day is often celebrated with a large meal and many families attend church. After church the celebration continues with more food, beer, and the local specialty, aquavit. Among the most popular of these foods are ribbe, a pork roast and pinnekjott, which are lamb ribs. Rice pudding is commonly served with an almond in it on Christmas or Christmas Eve; the person who gets the almond is said to have a good year ahead. This is typically followed with a visit from Santa Claus who comes to the door and drops off gifts for children. Finally, most farmers place a bowl of porridge with cinnamon in the barn in order to keep the barn gnome happy, a mythical figure that gets in trouble if you don't treat him well.

Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, which takes place on Monday in Norway, all follow in quick succession the same week. As few people are overly religious, this time is often celebrated by going on vacation and getting out of town. Easter offers a few days off of work and an excuse to get out of town with the family. If Easter is early skiing is a common getaway as people head north, but if it's later people tend to flock to the southern beaches.

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are also common celebrations in Norway. Like so many countries, New Year's Eve is often celebrated with food, alcohol, and firecrackers. New Year's Day is often celebrated with pork, lamb, or turkey and rice pudding, which has an almond in it; the person who gets the almond is said to have a good year ahead.

The Norwegians also have a few national holidays. Labor Day is celebrated on May 1 and Constitution Day is celebrated on May 17 each year. Labor Day is typically celebrated as a day off to commemorate the workers and laborers of the country. Constitution Day is usually celebrated outside as parades are common and everyone seems to be wearing the colors of the Norwegian flag. The celebration is often centered around children as they play games and sing in children's choirs. The day is also filled with good food, generally outside foods like hot dogs, grilled foods, and ice cream, plus cake. Constitution Day also symbolizes the last day of school in Norway for the year's graduates.

There are also numerous local holidays celebrated in Norway, including numerous Sami festivals. Among these, perhaps the most common in Norway is Riddu Riddu, which is celebrated in Olmmaivaggi during the long summer days. It is a cultural celebration filled with traditional dress, music, food, and other Sami cultural aspects.

This page was last updated: August, 2013