By: Patrick Dion, Foster Undergraduate
I made a really good friend when I was studying abroad in Spain and she invited me back to Norway to spend Christmas with her family. While I love the holidays in the US with my family, having the change to spending Christmas in a different culture was something I couldn’t pass up. She lives in the capital city of Oslo and I got the full Norwegian Christmas experience as well as a tour of the city. Its interesting the differences and similarities that their traditions share with ours. I imagine this is because we have lots of Scandinavian people in the US, but there are some big differences in the way they celebrate Christmas. Santa Clause, for instance doesn’t live in the NorthPpole, he lives in your barn and everyone has one. Each family has either their own barn or a barn in the family where their Santa lives all year and makes the presents and toys for the children. He still sneaks out at night and puts the presents under the Christmas tree but he does it a day early. They open presents on Christmas Eve like lots of other European countries, but open them after dinner, even though the presents have been under the tree all day. The kids have to wait all day until the adults have finished eating and cleared the table before they can get to unwrapping. I think if they tried that here you’d have some very unhappy and anxious kids.
Norway is famous for its reindeer, but because Santa doesn’t live in the North Pole, he doesn’t need them. Instead, they serve them for dinner. I felt a little bad eating Rudolf around Christmas time but the meat was really delicious. The city of Oslo is a great place to visit even if you don’t know anyone to show you around. The transportation system is great and they have day passes available to get into the museums and ride the transit with one pass. Because it was winter, the sun never really rose very high in the sky. I’ve never been to Alaska so having a day long sunrise/sunset was pretty unique. If you ever get a chance to go I would recommend seeing all that you can and maybe trying some reindeer if you have the stomach for it.