Is 'Little Christmas Eve' dying out in Norway?

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08:36 CET+01:00
December 23rd, or 'Little Christmas Eve', is the day when Norwegians put up their Christmas trees but the custom of waiting until the last day before bringing the juletre inside is in danger of disappearing.

The tradition of bringing trees into homes and decorating them, which originated in Germany and came to Norway at the beginning of the 19th century, has originally been carried out on December 23rd – the day before Christmas Eve, the day on which Christmas is celebrated in the Scandinavian country.

But the custom has become more relaxed as the generations have come and gone.

“These days, people make their own Christmas traditions. Some people even put trees up in November,” Kirsti Krekling, a former curator at Oslo’s Maihaugen open-air museum, told NRK.

The Christmas tree ritual, initially confined to teachers, evolved over the years, according to Krekling.

“Year by year the tradition spread. They were transported around the country in trucks and ferries. Eventually, most people began to have Christmas trees in their front rooms,” she said.

But until recently, decorating Christmas trees was not high on the list of priorities until ‘Little Christmas Eve’ or Christmas Eve itself, said Krekling.

“Now, people decorate their tree whenever they want to, or in whatever way makes them happy. So Christmas trees have become more of an individual than an old-fashioned Christmas tradition.”

In addition to living rooms from Kristiansand to Tromsø, a Norwegian Christmas tree can also be seen every year in London’s Trafalgar Square.

The city of Oslo has famously donated a Christmas tree to the British capital every year since 1947, when it received a tree as a gesture of thanks for the UK’s support for the Norwegian resistance movement during World War II.

The Trafalgar Square tree is, of course, installed and decorated some time before Little Christmas Eve – even though the Brits don’t celebrate Christmas until the 25th, a day after Norwegians finish unwrapping their gifts.

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