Norwegian Flavours of Christmas

‘Tis the Season for Nordic Traditions

During the Christmas season, most Norwegians follow family cooking traditions when they prepare for holiday meals or “julemat”. Norwegians take great pride in these traditions, which date back centuries, involving a variety of cultural perspectives.

Christmas Eve: Pinnekjøtt, Svineribbe & Lutefisk

On Christmas Eve, it is common for most Norwegians to prepare “pinnekjøtt” (lamb) or “svineribbe” (pork ribs). When it comes to cultural heritage, Norway had a mandate in the 15th century, where people were not allowed to eat meat until Christmas Day. As a result, all Norwegians ate fish on Christmas Eve. This historical perspective is believed to be the root of why fish became such a long-standing tradition on Christmas Eve and the reason why Norwegians often make the “lutefisk”, a traditional Norwegian dish made from aged stockfish or dried and salted whitefish and lye.

Lutefisk at Palmehaven

Lutefisk at Troll

Lutefisk at Bårdshaug

To Rom og Kjøkken

Traditional Christmas Food with a Modern Twist

Each year these traditional Norwegian Christmas meals are either interpreted and re-invented as new, exciting dishes or served in the distinctive, traditional fashion by a myriad of talented chefs who run restaurants in the city and region. Below are a few restaurants that are offering their own rendition of Christmas fair.

Note: It is recommended to book a table in advance

Troll Restaurant

Britannia’s Palmehaven

Bårdshaug Manor

Festive Nordic Libations

No festive holiday meal is complete without the perfect liquid accompaniment. In Norway there are strong traditions surrounding Christmas libations.


For centuries, dating back to pagan times, Norwegians have brewed their own beer. The Christmas beer or “juleøl” was the most important beer of the year, and in the Middle Ages, it was actually required, by law, for farmers to brew beer for Christmas. If you did not brew beer, then you had to pay a hefty fine to the bishop. This proud tradition is today continued by local breweries across the country.


Christmas beer tasting. Dates for 2021 TBD.


Aquavit – The national Nordic spirit. With your juleøl, it is often customary to accompany with a small glass of Aquavit. While neighboring countries such as Denmark and Sweden produce aquavit from grain, Norwegians distill it from potatoes.


Local brewery that distills its own aquavit in-house! Located right in the city center, stop by to have a taste of locally distilled aquavit!


Browse through the impressive aquavit selection at the coziest nook in town


Gløgg is a warm spiced drink, similar to the German Glühwein, or mulled wine that has become deeply intertwined with Nordic Christmas traditions. Typically it is made with red wine, but in Norway it is also made alcohol-free. Serve it with nuts and raisins and some homemade gingerbread! If you need to make the party starting, add your preferred amount of wine into the blend.


Head over to the lavvo at the Christmas Market, or try the delicious one from Sellanraa. Alternatively you can make your own version at home by purchasing a bottle of pre-made gløgg offered in every supermarket.


“Julebrus” or Christmas soda, is a the child friendly equivalent to juleøl. And every year, the media puts out a rating on the best Christmas soda based on dozens of blind tastings leading up to Christmas. Norwegians have a very patriotic and competitive relationship to having the best (local) Julebrus – similarly to their support of their local soccer team. Which Christmas soda is actually the best in the country is difficult to say, but here’s a hint: it’s brown, has a blue label and is made according to a Trøndelag recipe! Shh… don’t tell anyone we told you.