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Today is the day we celebrate Christmas in Norway. The sun ‘turned’ a few days ago so we’re a little late in celebrating the coming of longer days and more sunshine, but today we celebrate family, joy, and enjoy the time we spend with out loved ones. There’s also a touch (!) of materialism included in the celebration of Yule and some of us also attend church to get a drop of religion added into the mix.

One of the trees standing near the wee lake in the city centre is decorated with heart-shaped lights every year. This year snow covered the ground and made the place looking even more magical.

Yule eve (juleaften=yule evening) doesn’t really get serious until late in the afternoon. How you spend the day depends on the amount of responsibility you’ve been given or have taken on. For those of us not cooking, cleaning and running errands, that means sitting in front of the tv for hours watching the same shows that are sent every year at this time. I try my best to help out but find myself being ushered away only to end up doing nothing.

The evening starts with a massive dinner of ‘Pinnekjøtt’ (=stick meat. ‘pinne’ is basically a wooden stick). I’ll get back to the etymology of the word in a later post (posting about pinnekjøtt before yule is to me a no no as I only eat it once a year). The family is gathered, we’ll be 12 around the table this year: kid, spouse, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. After dinner we have ‘riskrem’ for dessert, which is similar to appelsinris. In the big bowl of ‘riskrem’ there is an almond. The finder of the almond gets a prize (usually a pig-shaped, chocolate-covered marzipan – no logic there).

Some decorate the tree with Norwegian flag - a tradition that started after world war II.

After uncles have spent hours devouring food (an uncle is always blamed for the duration of the meal) we move to the living-room, the tree, and the presents beneath it. When we were younger we used to dance around the tree, but when most kids became teenagers the reluctancy grew, and the dancing became a thing of the past. Son will be the only person under 20 this year, which means there are many adults who’ll do their best to please him, so spontaneous dancing might occur. After all the presents have been unwrapped we eat a bit more. And the hours pass as we talk and laugh, eat and drink.

I hope all of you have a wonderful day and evening, no matter how you spend it. But no matter what your religion or ethical outlook on life – take care of those around you and appreciate their presence. God jul!