Holiday traditions
in Oslo


Text by Roger Norum.
Photo by VisitOslo/Tord Baklund.

Powdery snow, fairy lights, frosty evenings: the North just seems created for Christmas. Nowhere is this more evident than in the cosy Norwegian capital of Oslo. Once the snow falls and the lights dim, the city centre is abuzz with holiday shoppers, decorated streets and trees, and plenty of opportunities to catch a Christmas market or choral concert.

The holidays in Oslo are best for couples and groups of friends, as this warm, wintry paradise and its evocative winter-blue light beckon you to don a wool sweater and cuddle up with loved ones.

Come December 23rd, families make gingerbread houses and eat risengrynsgrøt, a hot rice pudding served with sugar, cinnamon and butter. There is almost always an almond hidden in the pudding, and if the almond turns up in your portion, you are said to win a marzipan pig. In the countryside, many people put a bowl outside for the barn gnome.

Christmas Eve is the main event in the Norwegian holiday celebration, with a huge dinner followed by a Christmas service in one of Oslo’s many churches. Dinners, whether at home or out in a restaurant, usually consist of pork or lamb ribs, boiled potatoes, sausages, meat pies and lingonberries – and are almost always accompanied by Norwegian beer and cool, crisp aquavit.

Remember that most shops and businesses are closed for several days on either side of Christmas Day, making it the perfect excuse to get out to experience the region’s umpteen outdoor activities.

Best of seasonal Oslo

1. If you can swing it, try to get yourself invited to a julebord, or pre-Christmas party. Norwegian companies and groups of friends fill the city’s restaurants and clubs with holiday cheer.

2. The annual Christmas concerts in the Old Aker Church and the Oslo Cathedral are cherished musical rites of passage.

3. Norway’s 5 million people manage to eat more than 40 million marzipan figures at Christmas.

This article was first published in the December 2015 issue of Finnair's monthly in-flight magazine Blue Wings.

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