The 4th Christmas post comes from sweet Adeline (of Lady Croissant) in Norway... thanks Adeline!
Christmas? Home and family. Even though I've been living in Oslo for a few years now, I've never celebrated Christmas here. I don't even bother decorating my flat as I know I'll be leaving a few days before Christmas. So when Laura asked me if I wanted to participate in this series, I couldn't make up my mind about whether to write about Christmas in Home Sweet Home aka France or Norway. Eventually I decided to write about Norway from my French point of view. Welcome to Winter Wonderland!
Doing a bit of research on Wikipedia, I found out that Jul (Christmas in Norwegian) used to be a pagan festival, later absorbed into the Christian Christmas. Therefore many of the traditions here aren't directly inherited from the Christian religion. What I appreciate the most about Christmas in Norway, besides the snow, is all the smallest things - for instance, at work but also in most shops, there are plates full of heart-shaped gingerbread biscuits for you to eat as a snack, there are candles pretty much everywhere for you to feel warm even though it's cold outside.
When it comes to Christmas food, it might be a bit disappointing, especially for a French girl used to home-made delicacies. (Thanks Mom!) Up till the 60's, Norway was a very poor country and still today, traditional dishes are very rural and inherited from this poverty era: mutton or cod, potatoes, cabbage, mashed peas and for dessert: rice porridge. Back in the 1800s this was probably a festive - though heavy - meal. In 2010, this is not exactly what I expected when I got invited to a Christmas dinner at work... Still, I loved how unpretentious it was and I loved how eager my colleagues were.
In comparison to France, the municipality does very little to decorate the city but pretty much every single window in Oslo is decorated by a julestjerne (a Christmas star). Far from the overwhelming and sometimes eccentric decorations of many other capitals, I like how simple it is here. It reminds me that Christmas isn't about decorating or buying presents but above all about spending quality time at home with your family. That might sound cheesy but this is what I look forward to.