The start of the Christmas preparation is when late autumn the best wheat is gathered and saved until Christmas. Then it is put on poles. These make nice perches for the birds. If many birds are eating, it means a good year for growing crops. On Christmas Day many families go to church and then spend a quiet day together. This time is given to remembering the reason for Christmas warmth and joy, the birth of Jesus nearly 2000 years ago.
Nissen is a short, stocky fellow with a long, grey beard and a red knitted cap.
He brings children Christmas gifts.
On the farm, he helps with the work in mysterious ways. Nissen expects being served a large wooden bowl filled rice porridge on Christmas Eve.When the people on the farm go to find the bowls the next morning, the dishes are licked clean. That is proof enough that nissen really exists!
Most families in Norway have a tradition that one of the family members dress up like nisse by putting on a stiff mask and a costume, Christmas Eve. The nisse with his sack knocks on the door. He asks the question: "Good evening, are there any good children here?” "Yes, I am good," most children say. Norwegians know deep in their heart that the nisse lives. That is why Norwegians still fill wooden bowls with porridge and take them to their barns on Christmas Eve because no one can be sure.
Everyone has either a spruce or a pine tree in their living room - decorated with white lights, Norwegian flags and other ornaments for Christmas. The children make paper baskets and chains of coloured paper. The baskets can be filled with candy or nuts. Christmas trees became common in Norway from around 1900. Before the presents are opened, the family dances in a ring around the tree while singing traditional Norwegian Christmas carols.
Did you know that the Christmas trees at Union Station, Washington D.C., Trafalgar Square in London and Edinburgh, Scotland are from Norway?
In 1947 the British authorities received a Christmas tree from Oslo as a special thanks for the help and support Britain gave to Norway and Norwegians during the occupation years from 1940 to 1945. Since then, the Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square has become an annual tradition.
The Norwegian Christmas stamps for 2009 pictures Christmas decorations. In the background you can see the lyrics of two Christmas songs; "Glade Jul" (Silent Night) and "Jeg synger julekvad".
The stamps cost NOK 8.00 and have printed in 12.5 million copies.
Gingersnaps 150 g syrup 100 g sugar 1 1/2 dl cream 100 g butter 450 g wheat flour 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/4 teaspoon ginger 1/4 teaspoon aniseed 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 3/4 teaspoon horn salt 3/4 teaspoon baking soda Bring the syrup, sugar, and cream to a boil. Add the butter and cool the mixture until lukewarm. Sift in the dry ingredients. Keep the dough cold until the next day. Roll the dough thin and cut out the snaps and lay them on a greased tin. Put half a blanched almond on each. To give the cookies a gloss, they can be brushed with egg white. Bake for about 5 minutes at 175 C.