Tougher times hurt 'julebord' season

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The traditional Norwegian julebord , a lavish pre-Christmas party often hosted by companies for their employees, seems to be dying out this year. Layoffs and tight budgets are putting a damper on holiday cheer, with several companies cancelling their parties altogether.

ICA, the large grocery store chain, announced late last week that it was cancelling its julebord for 12,000 employees. Newspaper Aftenposten is also dropping its julebord, which in earlier years featured lots of food and drink, live entertainment, dance bands and rock bands for late-night partying.

“The reason is the difficult economic situation and the fact that many people have had to leave us,” managing director Kristin Skogen Lund told her own newspaper.

At ICA, the decision to drop its julebord was mostly met with understanding. “It doesn’t feel right to party when so many of our colleagues have lost their jobs,” said one employee.

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) hasn’t sponsored a julebord for its employees for several years, but individual departments often organize their own parties, and pay for it themselves.

“We’ve had employees who had to leave and it sends the wrong signal to arrange expensive parties,” SAS spokesman Knut Morten Johansen told Aftenposten . “There’s understanding for that.”

Ronny Lie at Kongsberg Automotive said the company will hold a “modest” julebord on its own premises, as will industrial firm Norsk Hydro.

“We haven’t had a real julebord for quite some time,” said information chief Thomas Knutzen at Hydro, saying the party this year will be held in the company canteen.