In Norway, Christmas is known as "Jul" and celebrated annually on December 25, like in many other places.
The Norwegian Christmas celebrations begin with the Saint Lucia ceremony on December 13. At daybreak, the youngest daughter from each family puts on a white robe with a sash, a crown with evergreens and tall-lighted candles. The boys dress up as star boys in long white shirts and pointed hats. Then the youngest daughter and the other children wake their parents, and serve them coffee and Lucia buns, lussekatter. This is said to commence the Christmas festivities in the country.
In the days counting to Christmas Day, individual homes are decorated beautifully by their inhabitants.
Christmas trees - generally juletre, spruce or pine tree - are set up in each house and traditionally embellished with candles or white lights, Norwegian flags, apples, red harts, cornets, straw ornaments, balls of glass, tinsels and even colourful paper baskets made by the children in the family. The indoors are decked up with lovely flowers such as hyacinths and red tulips.
For most Norwegians, the main celebration of Christmas is on 24 December (Christmas Eve). Traditionally, this is a day to be spent in the company of family members. During noon, "lillejulaften" (rice porridge) is usually served. An almond is often hidden in the porridge, and the person who finds it wins a treat or small gift– usually a marzipan pig. In some regions of the country, the porridge dish is usually placed outside (in a barn, outhouse or even in the forest) to please "Julenissen"("Santa Claus" - as called in Norway). In the afternoon, church bells ring to beckon people to the church services. Many people attend these religious services. At five p.m., church bells toll to announce the beginning of Christmas. In some families, there is a custom of reading a Christmas story from Luke 2 from an old family Bible. The main Christmas meal is served in the evening. The main dishes commonly include pork rib, "pinnekjott" (pieces of lamb rib steamed over birch branches). In some western areas, a burned sheep's head form the main dish. Many people also eat "lutefisk" or fresh, poached cod. Traditional drinks are beer and aquavit for adults and "julebrus" (a sweet red fizzy drink made specially during Christmastime) for children. A favourite Christmas dessert is rice blended with whipped cream served with a red sauce.
On Christmas Day, most families have a big brunch at noon or dinner in the afternoon. People invite their friends and loved ones to have meal with them. Cakes and cookies are relished together and everyone is wished God Jul!(Merry Christmas). Different nuts, fruits, figs, dates and sweets also belong to the celebration.
For children, Christmas is a time for gifts and goodies from "Julenissen" (Santa Claus), who is said to reward all good kids for their nice actions and behaviour all through the year. But presents are not to be expected only during this time as in "Romjulen", the days between Christmas and New Years Eve, Norwegian children often go from house to house in the afternoon asking for sweets. This tradition is known as "Julebukk" or "Christmas buck" and was very popular in the Viking era when pagans worshipped Thor and his goat. By the end of the Middle Ages, the custom was forbidden by the Church and the state. Though the tradition has made a comeback in recent decades, just a few children keep up the tradition today.