Norwegians have traditionally headed for special church services during the Christmas holidays, especially on julaften (Christmas Eve). New statistics indicate the tradition is fading rapidly.
Church officials report a 13 percent decline in attendance over the past five years. Newspaper Vårt Land reported last week that around 543,000 Norwegians attended Christmas services nationwide last year, down from 627,000 in 2006.
Figures from state statistics bureau SSB (Statistics Norway) also showed that only 14 percent of those who are members of the state church actually went to church for Christmas Eve services, down from 16 percent five years ago.
The state church (Den norske kirke) also lost 100,000 members during the same five-year period. Norway’s state church is evangelical Lutheran, but various new policies are now loosening ties between church and state. The church continues to receive the vast majority of its funding from the state, however, as do other churches and religious institutions of various faiths in Norway.
Views and News staff