Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Suitcase and Stillettos...Christmas in Norway!

Hi everyone!  I am Megan from A Suitcase and Stilettos.  I am an American living in picturesque western Norway... and I am spending my first Christmas away from the states here this year. 

I am beyond lucky to be an expat in a country that also celebrates Christmas.  Thanksgiving was torture because that day was just another calendar day for Norwegians, but Christmas, on the other hand, is a big deal here in Norway!  I thought I'd share a few differences between my typical American Christmas and what I am about to experience here in western Norway.

1)  The date:  In America, we celebrate Christmas in usual fashion, December 25th.  Here in Norway, Christmas is celebrated on December 24th.  I find it odd, but kind of cool because I will get not one, but TWO Christmas celebrations this year here- one on the 24th and one on the 25th.

2)  The food:  No matter where in Norway you are throughout the holidays, you will eat a special and traditional (to the region or family) meal.  Here in the Bergen area, it is typical to eat pinnekjøtt, or lamb ribs (sheep depending on the age).  It is a very salty, fatty meat that some people love, some people hate.  I actually am kind of in love with this food.  The Norwegians in my area serve it with kålrabistappe (mashed rutabaga) and boiled potatoes.  I truly can't get enough of this meal and have even made it with my boyfriend multiple times on our own.  In the US, my family ate whatever it pleased on Christmas...sometimes turkey, sometimes ham (I'm a Virginian), sometimes spaghetti, sometimes salmon.  (the food below is not the proper way to eat certain foods with other foods...or so Norwegians tell me.  I was merely just trying everything.)

3)  The tree tradition:  While this is not too different, I have noticed in America it is quite common to start putting that Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving.  Here in Norway, they don't really begin until around the 20th or so of December.  Lucky for me, my boyfriend was eager to put ours up quickly and we put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving.

4)  Pepperkakebyen:  The world's largest gingerbread town is here in Bergen.  I mean, how cool is that??  All children and many businesses contribute building a gingerbread model of their home, stadium, business and have it placed at Pepperkakebyen.  I went last year before New Year's (I was not here during Christmas), but haven't gone yet this year.  We definitely don't have one of these in the US.

5)  Porridge:  Before moving here I totally though porridge was only for bears.  But on Christmas they have a rice porridge here that is traditional.  It is also traditional to hide a single almond in the porridge and whichever person finds it will win a prize/gift.

While my Christmas won't be completely the same as I am used to, I am certain it will be wonderful! 
God jul og godt nytt år!!!!

Thank you so much for guest posting today, Megan!
That is so funny that rice porridge (and hiding the almond in it) is practiced in Norway. It's a danish tradition too! I wonder who started it. My mother in law is from Denmark, which means I'll be looking for the almond in my porridge in just a few days!

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