What do Norwegians do on New Year’s Eve?

What do Norwegians do on New Year’s Eve?
Fireworks in Bergen. Photo: Violin/Depositphotos
New Year wouldn’t be New Year in Norway without the King’s speech, fireworks or the clinking of glasses and best wishes for the year to come.

Editor's note December 2020: This article was originally published on December 31st, 2019. Norway currently has national rules in place limiting private and public gatherings.



What are the customs that make New Year in Norway… Norwegian?


According to figures from a 2013 survey, the by-far most commonly-eaten New Year’s Eve meal in Norway consists of turkey. 34 percent of people asked said they had eaten turkey on the most recent New Year’s Eve.

In second place is pinnekjøtt (‘stick meat’), a dish – more commonly associated with Christmas — in which salted meat, mostly sheep, is dried and salted, then served with boiled potatoes and mashed turnip.

The King’s New Year speech

Generations of Norwegians have settled in front of the television at 7:30pm on New Year’s Eve to see King Harald V’s New Year speech.

National broadcaster NRK has televised the King’s speech every year since 1960, and TV2 now concurrently broadcasts the monarch’s address from the Royal Palace.

Viewing figures for the speech are generally between 700,000 and 800,000.

“In a time when the world is increasingly changeable and demanding with regards to war and politics, I don’t think it’s any less important to be able to get behind national symbols. The King’s speech is such a symbol,” NRK head analyst Kristian Tolonen told Aftenposten in 2016.

READ ALSO: Norwegian king’s amazing speech on love and diversity


The spectacular lights and ear-splitting din of fireworks on New Year’s Eve is a staple of the occasion for many.

Laws introduced in the late 2000s have prohibited firecracker type fireworks with stabilizers. Private individuals may only set off smaller fireworks between 6pm and 2am on New Year’s Eve, and some cities have forbidden them completely within certain areas.

That has been reported to reduce the number of firework-related injuries, but municipal displays remain. Animal welfare groups continue to raise concern over the volume of fireworks set off as the new year chimes in.

READ ALSO: Should Norway ban fireworks on New Year’s Eve?

Wiener Musikverein

The Vienna concert hall and home to the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra is a staple of Norwegian New Year. The Viennese New Year’s Day concert is watched in many countries, and hits viewing figures of up to 600,000 on NRK, according to the broadcaster’s figures.

Time with friends and family

While everyone celebrates in their own way, it’s common for family and friends to gather at a home or cabin, eat and drink together and head out into the cold as the clock nears midnight. Children may be given sparklers, neighbours wish each other ‘Godt nytt år, takk for det gamle (Happy New Year, thank you for the past one), champagne is popped and the celebrations continue into the night.

Godt nyttår!



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