Holiday lights help brighten the nights

PHOTO FEATURE: Stores closed and streets fell silent as Norway settled into its traditional three-day Christmas celebrations on julaften (Sunday this year). Massive arrays of holiday lights, however, will continue to brighten the darkness of mid-winter in Oslo and other cities, exactly 125 years after Norway’s capital got its first electric streetlamps. It wasn’t always […]

‘God jul’ and ‘takk’ to all our readers

As Norway slipped into Christmas holiday mode on Sunday, an annual sense of peace and quiet descended on Oslo and most other towns and cities around the country. Julaften (Christmas Eve) is the main event, followed by public holidays on Juledag (Christmas Day on December 25) and 2. juledag (Second Christmas Day on December 26). […]

Gift-giving habits start to change

Many Norwegians were expected to find alternative gifts under their Christmas trees this year. Fully 30 percent are opting to exchange “used” gifts, for environmental reasons, while others want to support charitable organizations or give and receive the gift of time together instead of material objects. Traditions die hard in Norway, where things like changing […]

Royals wrap up a most festive year

King Harald V and Queen Sonja retreated to their royal timber lodge in the hills above Oslo this week. They’ll be celebrating the Christmas holidays there with their daughter and her family, while their son and daughter-in-law will spend Christmas with Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s family at the crown couple’s home in suburban Asker. They posed […]

Norway imports Christmas trees

Despite its vast forests full of an estimated 3 billion fir trees, Norway actually imports around 300,000 Christmas trees a year. Demanding shoppers reportedly think the imported trees, mostly from neighbouring countries, are better-proportioned and more stylish. “One of the reasons is that consumers have strict demands regarding quality and appearance,” John-Anders Strande of the […]

Christmas concerts rang in millions

By the time Norway’s iconic boys choir known as Sølvguttene were singing their annual Christmas Eve concert on national TV, other choirs and entertainers had been drawing in large audiences for weeks. Christmas concerts have become big business. During the five weeks leading up to Christmas, Norwegians collectively spent NOK 86 million (USD 10 million) on […]

Flagpole turned fatal in freak accident

A family was left in shock on Christmas Eve when a 49-year-old mother of three was killed while walking with her family into church services at Oslo’s picturesque Holmenkollen Chapel. Strong winds broke off the chapel’s flag pole, which hit the woman in the head, and she died instantly. Holmenkollen Chapel, located next to the ski jump with […]

Norway rang in a ‘Green Christmas’

PHOTO FEATURE: Norwegians settled into their lengthy Christmas holidays with hardly any snow in any of the major cities and towns this year. Centuries of snowbound traditions involving winter sports and sleigh rides are having to give way to new means of maintaining holiday spirits. This was the scene outside the Royal Palace in Oslo this week, with nary […]

Shopping season showed sobriety

It’s been another rollicking pre-Christmas party season in most Norwegian cities, but local residents have been more subdued when it comes to spending money. Tuesday was still expected to become the year’s busiest shopping day, but economists expect the country’s economic downturn to be reflected in retailers’ overall revenues. It was pouring rain in Oslo late Tuesday […]

The secrets of the ‘Christmas calendar’

EXPATRIATE MUSINGS: Axel Johnson is a relatively recent arrival in Oslo, from Sweden. Although many expatriates in Norway may lump the Scandinavian countries together, they have many different customs and, not least, holiday traditions. Johnson has learned a lot the past few weeks about one Norwegian tradition that’s become increasingly elaborate in recent years: the local […]