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 […]

Christmas markets draw big crowds

It’s high season for Christmas markets in Norway, with Oslo alone offering dozens of them selling everything from handicrafts to moose burgers. They’re not all characterized by peace and goodwill, though: The organizers of Oslo’s biggest market in recent years got caught in a major conflict with city officials, and ended up having to move […]

‘Julebord’ season keeps police busy

The often wild Christmas party season in Norway, known as julebordsesongen, kept police extra busy during the weekend. Instead of celebrating peace on earth, many partying Norwegians seemed intent on disturbing it. “We had quite a lot of calls tied to lack of order and disturbances of the peace,” Gjermund Stokkli, operations leader for the Oslo […]

Eager shoppers latched onto ‘Black Friday’

Like Halloween and Valentine’s Day, another North American tradition called “Black Friday” has become popular in Norway, much to the despair of critics. Thousands of Norwegians stood in lines and even camped outside shopping centers, to cash in Friday on what they believed to be huge discounts on selected merchandise. The fourth Friday in November […]

‘Holiday peace’ finally settled in

PHOTO FEATURE: The Norwegians call it “julefred,” an unusually quiet period that begins around 3pm on “julaften” (Christmas Eve). Stores and offices close for at least two days, many hotels and restaurants already have, and even the public transportation system shuts down for a few hours when the Christmas holidays in Norway officially begin. There […]