Christmas in Norway

Christmas in Norway - YULE IN OLD NORWAY

From an old (1906) publication comes this story:

The horn was blown for silence,
come was the votive hour;
To Frey's high feast devoted
they carry in the boar.

—Frithof's "Saga," Trans. Bayard Taylor.

Christmas in Norway

It is in the northernmost limit of Scandinavia, Norway, that one turns for the first observance of Christmas in Scandinavia.

For the keeping of Yule-tide in the land of Odin, of the Vikings, Sagas, midnight sun, and the gorgeous Aurora Borealis.

This one of the twin countries stretching far to the north with habitations within nineteen degrees of the North Pole.

It is one of several countries which formed ancient Scandinavia. They are one in spirit regarding Christmas although not in many other respects. In the far north among the vast tribe of Lapps, in their cold, benighted country, as Christmas approaches each wandering tribe heads its reindeer toward the nearest settlement containing a church, that it may listen to the story of the first Christmas morn which is told year after year by the pastor, and yet is ever new and interesting to the people who come from great distances, drawn over the fields of crisp snow by their fleet-footed reindeer.

In this terrible winter night of existence, amidst an appalling darkness of Nature and Mind, the one great occasion of the year is Christmas. Not the merry, bright, festive occasion of their more favored brothers and sisters, but what to them is the happiest in the year.

Christmas Eve passes unnoticed. The aurora may be even more beautiful than usual, its waving draperies more fantastic, more gorgeous-hued, but it is unnoticed by the Lapps who have seen it from childhood.

Men, women, children, servants, guests, and animals, crowd into the small, low homes, without a thought of Santa Claus coming to visit them.

Children have no stockings to hang up, and there are no chimneys for Santa to descend. In fact, he and his reindeer, with their loads of treasured gifts, probably left this region with the sun, bound for more congenial places.

The church bells break the terrible silence of the sunless towns on Christmas morning, and as the fur-encased natives wend their way to church, greeting one another as they meet, there is a faint approach to joyousness. Of course there must be real sorrow and joy wherever there is life and love, although among the Lapps it is not so easy to notice.

During Yule-tide the Lapps visit one another, attend to what governmental business there may be, give in marriage, christen the children.

Little girl at the "Stabbur"

Christmas in Norway

Norwegian children have many jolly times around the Christmas trees and enjoy hunting for their little gifts which are often tucked away in various places for them to find. Then there are all sorts of pretty games for them to play and quantities of appetizing food prepared for their pleasure.

The young folks earn their feast, for all day long before Christmas they are busy tying bunches of oats and corn on the trees, the fences, the tops of houses and of barns, and on high poles which they erect in the yards, until

"From gable, barn and stable
Protrudes the birdies' table
Spread with a sheaf of corn."

Christmas in Norway

The Norwegians begin their Christmas with church services, after which they meet together for a repast which is an appetizer for the feast to follow. Fish, poultry, meats, and every variety of food known to the Norwegian housewife is served in courses, between which toasts are given, healths drunk, and the songs of Norway rendered.

Customs of Christmas in Norway

Among the latter "Old Norway" is always included, for the people never forget the past history of their beloved country. One of the customs of these occasions is that each guest on arising turns to the host and hostess, bowing to each, expresses his thanks for the meal.


Often strolling musicians arrive, such as go from place to place at Christmas. After a large supper the guests depart on sledges for their homes, which are often miles distant.

Christmas in Norway

This is not a contemporary contemplation of the holidays, rather it is from an old story about Christmas in the North:

"Do you suppose on Christmas Eve, as they look toward the fading light in the West, the children of Norway ever think of their Scandinavian cousins, the little Icelanders, in their peat houses.

On that isolated island in the sea, where the shortest day is four hours long, and where at Christmas time the sun does not rise above the horizon for a week, and wonder how they are celebrating Yule-tide?

Christmas is a great day with them also, for they cling to the old songs and customs, and could the west wind convey the sound of glad voices across the wide expanse of water separating the island from the mainland, Norwegian children might hear the Icelandic children singing one of their sweet old songs."

Christmas in Norway

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