The season of Christmas is upon us. We all have our traditions of spending this time with family and relatives. The Costa Blanca is home to many different nationalities, and many of them read our regular blogs. That’s why TheCostaBlancaGuide decided to write a few lines about the different traditions in the countries where most of our readers come from. Today we tell a bit more about the Dutch and Norwegian Christmas Traditions. In the next blog, we will write more about Spanisch and English traditions this time of year. We wish all of our readers a very merry Christmas and hope you can spend this time with your loved ones close to you.
Christmas time in Holland
Everybody in Holland really gets in the Christmas spirit as soon as Saint Nicolas has left on December 6th. Often the whole family goes on the hunt for a beautiful Christmas tree in one of the many garden centers. The tree is different yet festively decorated in every house, the basics are the glittering balls and lights. Many people have to untie last year’s ball of Christmas lights in the hope that each and every single one still functions. After the tree is decorated, the final touch is the peak at the top of the tree.
Many children still receive their presents from Sinterklaas, but gradually it is becoming more and more a tradition to give presents during Christmas. They usually are stashed under the Christmas tree for a few days and, at least in our house, we open them on the morning of Christmas Day.
Christmas in Holland
The Dutch celebrate Christmas for two days, on 25 and 26 of December. In general, Christmas Day is celebrated at home with our closest family. Then on Boxing Day, it is often the turn for the rest of the family with visits to grandfathers and grandmothers and in-laws. For those who call themselves lucky to escape these relatives, they usually end up visiting one of the large furniture department stores.
One thing that all Dutch secretly hope for is a white Christmas with lots of snow. That gives that little bit of extra atmosphere to complete our traditional Christmas dinner. It differs per household whether this dinner is held on Christmas Eve or on one of the Christmas days. But one thing is certain, there is a lot of food. Everyone from the family comes together and appears neatly dressed and the table is beautifully set. The days before Christmas, everyone is busy shopping for this dinner. Some choose to prepare a complete menu with several courses others prepare a gourmet dish. This is just a fancy way to have everybody present at the table cook their own food on a sizzling hot baking plate. All in all, it is a time of being with family and eating (too) much food.
As far as food is concerned, there is one more typical Dutch tradition at Christmas time: the Oliebol. An oliebol is a doughball fried in oil and normally we eat them on New Year’s Eve. However, around Christmas, the first stalls and shops start to offer them. There is even a national oliebollen test every year that everyone looks forward to. A tasty snack to end the year with.
Norwegian Christmas traditions
They vary depending on where you are in the country but, the basic principles are the same regardless of where you are. The mainstream of Norwegian will recognize this kind of Christmas celebration.
Little Christmas Eve, December 23rd
Some of the most common things are decorating the Christmas tree and making gingerbread houses. Many also eat rice porridge with sugar, cinnamon and butter eye. In the porridge, we hide one almond, and the one who finds the almond in its portion wins a marzipan pig!
Christmas Eve, December 24th
Christmas Eve is the highlight of the Norwegian Christmas celebration. The first part of the day is often used for panic-stricken action of the last Christmas presents, or for a quiet moment in the church. At five o’clock the church bells will ring and Christmas has officially started. Most people eat Christmas dinner at home or with relatives. Christmas presents are pre-arranged under the Christmas tree and are unpacked in the evening. In families with young children, Santa Claus may come by and hand out the gifts himself.
The most typical and widely used Norwegian Christmas food is “Ribbe” (roast pork belly), but also “Pinnekjøtt” (stick meat), Lutefisk, roasted ham and cooked cod are common dishes. What is defined as Christmas food is culturally conditioned and depends on both geography and tradition. Much of the Christmas food comes from centuries-old traditions, and in particular, there are traces of Catholic times.
Ribbe with Medister and traditional accessories represent a younger tradition but are nevertheless the most popular dinner among Norwegians on Christmas Eve. In 2015, as many as 88% ate either pork ribs or stick meat.
In addition, Christmas beer and Aquavit have important and historical roots far back in time.
“Romjulen”, December 25-30
The days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are often used for family parties. In the days after Christmas Eve, many go out on the town and there is more life in the city center. People who have moved to other places often come “home” for Christmas and gather in social strata.
1st of January almost everything is closed, and after that, it is back to normal for most people. And the thirteenth day of Christmas the Christmas tree will be removed.
As we have already explained this blog is about the Dutch and Norwegian Christmas traditions. We know we also have England and Spain readers on our page and we will not leave them behind. In our next blog will write about the typical Christmas traditions in these countries.
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