“Everything is very rolig, very calm here in Norway”
Deborah Alexander Valstrand lives in Trondheim with her husband and daughter
The Norwegian way is to celebrate on December 24, Christmas Eve. Usually on the 23rd we put up the tree. Trees don’t go up early here, like they do in Britain. We drive out to our family farm in Vågan, where we’re fortunate enough to have our own fields and forests, for the holiday so we can chop down our own tree.
We eat Christmas dinner on the 24th. The typical Norwegian dinner, salted ribs from lamb, is called pinnekjøtt. The other dish is ribbe – that’s delicious ribs from the pork belly. We eat it with vegetables and tasty little sausages. Norwegians eat their dinner with a traditional drink, aquavit, to wash down all the fat from the rich food!
Everything is very rolig, as they say in Norwegian – all very calm. Everyone takes their time, eats their dessert and tidies everything away. Then we all go and sit by the tree. Someone will act as Santa, handing out the gifts. Everyone sits and watches as each person opens up their gift.
It’s not like the typical British Christmas where everyone dives in at seven o’clock in the morning and there’s paper lying everywhere. It’s very quiet here. I’ve lived here for 15 years but I’m Scottish so I suppose I took badly with that to start with!
I still make a bit of my own Christmas on the 25th. I’ll leave a few gifts under the tree for Ava and maybe one for each of us, then we’ll come down and open them on Christmas morning, the British way. My mother-in-law cooks the Norwegian meal on the 24th and I help her, then I do the turkey for us the next day. Families have time together at home over Christmas and most are off for about a week.
We’re guaranteed the snow here in Norway so that makes it lovely, like a Christmas card. You can go outside after your meal and have a nice walk in the snow and that makes it feel special. Norwegians have a word called koselig, which means cosy and nice.
My favourite part of Christmas is sitting around the fire with the snow outside and the tree twinkling. It’s very cosy!