Outdoor holiday lights don’t always spark admiration and good cheer during the Christmas and New Year season in Norway. Norwegians have embraced the practice of decorating their homes, gardens and balconies but some neighbours disapprove.
“When it gets a bit too tacky, I can understand that folks complain,” Axel Melbye, who enjoys decorating his home in Oslo’s Ullern area, told newspaper Aftenposten. He moderated outdoor lighting after protests from a neighbour.
Norwegians used to only string up white lights on Christmas trees or outdoors, if any at all. Coloured lights were seldom and mostly used by foreign residents with different holiday traditions, until they became widely available in Norway a few years ago and fell in price.
Now it’s mostly the colourful and especially blinking lights that create conflicts, with one neighbour telling Melbye that his lights “disturbed” them and created the equivalent of light pollution. Norway’s epilepsy federation has warned, meanwhile, that blinking lights can set off epileptic attacks and bother those prone to headaches and migraines.
“We see a tendency towards more quarreling,” said Line CB Bjerkek, an attorney for the Norwegian homebuilding federation NBBL. She noted that more Norwegians are stringing up lights, and earlier, in what she called an “Americanization” of holiday rituals. Many also leave holiday lights up long after the holidays are over, to ward off Norway’s winter darkness.