Holiday Traditions around the World: Christmas in Norway
Land of the Midnight Sun is the perfect backdrop for the Christmas season! Luciadagen or St. Lucia Day starts the Christmas season in Norway on December 13th. Sicilian martyred Saint Lucia was visited by an angel and vowed to devote her life to Christianity. Lucia is honored as a day of light at the darkest time of the year. Children form a procession dressed in white with a crown of lighted evergreens on their heads while singing the traditional St. Lucia song. Lussekatter are the traditional St. Lucia Day treats handed out during the processional. Lussekatter is translated to “Lucia cats” and they are sweet buns decorated with raisins baked into a winding tail design.
Christmas trees play a big part in the Norwegian holiday season. Spruce or pine trees are sparsely decorated to showcase their natural beauty. Clear white lights have replaced candles and the ornaments are Julekurver which are small paper baskets in the shape of a heart. The most famous custom is the traditional Norwegian Christmas tree that Norway gifts to the United Kingdom each year as a thank you for the help during World War II. The tree is proudly displayed in Trafalgar Square in the heart of London.
We are very excited to write this post for two reasons. It was requested by a reader and it was one of our most remarkable trips!
Norway is known for its world famous fjords, majestic mountains and spectacular glaciers. Norway encompasses a beauty so stunning it almost does not feel real. The other two gals and I were lucky to visit Norway as part of a trip to Northern Europe. We visited Bergen, Alesund and Geiranger. Cruising the fjords to Geiranger felt like I was part of a movie. The scenery was unbelievable. When we arrived at the bottom of Geiranger fjord we embarked on the most memorable hike of our lives so far. The climb to the top was steep and physically demanding, but entirely worth it. You could drink the crisp, cool glacial water streaming the waterfalls. The view from top evoked a feeling that our small group was the only people in the world. It was July so it was misty, but warm enough to wear pants and a light jacket. The hike down was the most treacherous part as the mist created a slide of mud and foliage. It was thrilling, exhilarating and unforgettable.
The Traveling Gals: Bring appropriate clothes if you are going to hike up a fjord. The youngest had to throw away her shoes and pants after hiking up Geiranger Fjord! So worth it though!
Our next stop was Alesund and even thought it was after 11 p.m. it was bright as can be outside. It is a very interesting sensation when the sun ever fully sets. Alesund is the gateway to the fjords and appropriately named the “adventure capital”. After taking the 418 step walk to the top of Mount Aksla the next morning, we were not only rewarded with a picture perfect view but a huge troll!
The last stop in Norway was Bergen where we spent time at the Fish Market. I love visiting markets when I am traveling. It is like an education in local culture. We also went into local shops and grocery co-ops while walking through streets lined with vibrantly colored wooden houses. We sailed out of Norway on the North Sea and saw all the oil rigs. They were fascinating to see working oil rigs first hand.
After visiting Norway, I am so impressed with the authenticity of the Norway pavilion in EPCOT. The details and atmosphere are spot on with our experience. It was sad for us to see Maelstrom close because it was such a true representation of everything we saw in Norway. Several times in the country of Norway, much to other people in our traveling group’s dismay, we kept saying…wow this is just like EPCOT!
While they do not have a booth for the Food and Wine Festival, there is a great restaurant and bakery at the pavilion. The restaurant, Akershus, has character dining with the Disney Princesses for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We enjoy this restaurant very much, but make your reservations far in advance! The bakery, Kringla, serves sandwiches, pastries, and specialty treats.