Norwegian Traditions: Juletrefest

In Norway, Christmas is traditionally celebrated on Christmas Eve. However, once Christmas Eve is over, Norwegian children can look forward to more celebrations in the form of “juletrefester” (directly translated as Christmas Tree Parties).

“Juletrefest” is a Norwegian party tradition that usually takes place in “romjula”, i.e. the period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Some “juletrefester” will also run into the New Year.

As with all good Norwegian parties, you will be served coffee and cakes, and of course, the all time Norwegian favourite – sausages. Sausages in Norway are usually served as “pølse i brød” (hot dogs) or “pølse med lompe” (with a soft potato flatbread/tortilla).

Juletrefest Entertainment

“Juletrefester” are often organised by parents associations at schools or kindergartens. Some major associations and companies will also arrange these traditional children’s parties.

The organisers will often put on some simple entertainment in form of a magician or a children’s entertainer.  However, the main activity is “dancing” around the Christmas tree.

The children (and the adults too) hold hands and form circles around the Christmas tree. They then walk around the while singing traditional Christmas carols, changing directions every time the verse changes.

“Juletrefesten” is usually rounded off by a visit from “Julenissen” (Santa) who will bring a sack full of goodie bags for the children.

Here is a short video from a “juletrefest” where some kindergartens in Bergen have come together – slightly chaotic but still great fun for the kids!

The History of the “Juletrefest”

There are no accurate records of when the first Christmas tree was decorated in Norway.

However, we know that Studentsamfunnet i Christiania (the old name for Oslo), started arranging “juletrefester” from the 1840s.

The tradition of having Christmas Tree Parties has ensured that old Christmas songs and games that was common before the Xmas tree was even introduced, are still alive today. One such song is “Reven rasker over isen” which an old singing game that dates back to the late 16th century.

Fortsatt god jul!

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