Christmas in Norway: Preparations
Many Norwegians incorporate Advent calendars and Advent candles into their Christmas preparations. Selecting the family Christmas tree is also an important element of Christmas preparations for many families, as is giving the home a thorough cleaning. Families often bake a wide variety of cookies and breads during the days preceding Christmas, and some even brew special Christmas beers (see also Christmas cake). In past times people believed that all Christmas cleaning, baking, slaughtering, and brewing should be completed by St.Thomas’s Day, December 21. In the old days people also prepared for Christmas by making batches of candles. Although modern Norwegians no longer need to rely on candles for light during the long winter nights, candlemaking is still a popular pre-Christmas activity.
In old Norway the Peace of Christmas began on St. Thomas’s Day. Towns designated special watchmen to ensure that peace and friendliness reigned during the holiday season. The Peace of Christmas also extended to animals. Hunters and fishermen removed traps and snares during the holiday season. This kindliness towards animals lives on in the custom of erecting a Christmas sheaf for birds and other small animals to feast on.