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CHRISTMAS

‘Tre nøtter til Askepott’: Explaining Norway’s peculiar Christmas tradition

Every year since 1996, Norwegians have gathered on Christmas morning (in Norway that’s the 24th) and switched on their televisions to watch 'Tre nøtter til Askepott'.

'Tre nøtter til Askepott': Explaining Norway's peculiar Christmas tradition
Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

Originally a Czech film,  Tre nøtter til Askepott (or “Three Nuts for Cinderella”) is a story about Cinderella going to the ball after she receives three magic nuts that each contain a special outfit.

The storyline has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, but according to statistics from NRK, in 2015 over 1,2 million Norwegians tuned in to watch on Christmas morning.

Adding magic nuts is a fun spin on this classic fairy-tale. But the quirky part is rooted in the voices. Unlike a lot of countries in Europe, Norway doesn’t typically dub foreign films. They are viewed in the foreign language with subtitles.

Tre nøtter til Askepott is not only dubbed, but all the characters’ voices are dubbed by one Norwegian man: Knut Risan, currently known for being the most popular voice of Christmas.

This dubbed Czech film is arguably one of the oddest cultural traditions in Norway, yet still, no single Norwegian person seems to question why it exists. Originally produced in 1973, Tre nøtter til Askepott  was not intended to be viewed as a Christmas film on NRK but as a children’s movie to be watched during other times of the year. But eventually, its airing time was moved closer to the holidays and Norwegians began associating it as a Christmas custom.

The film has also nestled its way into holiday season traditions in several other countries, including Switzerland, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.

Perhaps another reason Norwegians are so connected to this obscure foreign movie is because of the traditions associated with it.

The most perfect pairing to any Christmas film is sweets. And Norwegians may have an extra ‘sweet spot’ for this tradition at Christmas because it is common to indulge on the delicious candy that was gifted to them in their stockings earlier that morning, while watching the film.

Since a large part of the Norwegian diet is centred around healthy proteins and grains, devouring sweets that were delivered in a stocking right after waking up would even make Ebenezer Scrooge smile. 

Nostalgia and sweets are understandably two powerful forces in trying to figure out why this tradition lives on. But a poorly dubbed foreign film becoming one of the most popular Christmas traditions in all of Norway leaves many of those newly exposed to this custom scratching their heads with bewilderment.

Tre nøtter til Askepott  airs at 11am on December 24th.

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CHRISTMAS

Could Christmas in Norway be affected by new Covid-19 measures?

Norway’s government has in the last two days announced tightened rules relating to Covid-19 isolation and face masks. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre sought to reassure the public over plans for the Christmas holidays.

Norway's PM Jonas Gahr Støre expects the country's residents to be able to celebrate Christmas normally but cannot rule out new Covid-19 measures before December 24th.
Norway's PM Jonas Gahr Støre expects the country's residents to be able to celebrate Christmas normally but cannot rule out new Covid-19 measures before December 24th. Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

The government on Tuesday announced new measures relating to quarantine rules for confirmed Covid-19 cases and face mask guidelines.

The measures, which are being introduced in response to increasing infection numbers, include more stringent isolation rules, face mask recommendations and a push to vaccinate over 65s with booster jabs as soon as possible.

“On one side, we must avoid full hospitals and strain on the health system. On the other side we must live as normally as possible. We must keep finding the right balance in the measures,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in a statement.

Tighter quarantine rules for suspected cases with the new Omicron variant were meanwhile launched on Monday. People who test positive for or are believed to be infected with the Omicron variant will need to isolate for longer than others with the virus.

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In comments during a briefing to press on Tuesday, Støre sought to reassure the public over plans to spend Christmas with loved ones.

“The measures we have introduced are settings that make it possible to celebrate a good Christmas while keeping in mind what you can do with your loved ones,” the PM said in comments reported by newspaper VG.

“We can plan to be with our families at Christmas,” he added.

Last year saw Christmas in Norway significantly impacted by restrictions on the number of people who could meet and mixing between households.

Such far-reaching restrictions are not expected in 2021. Støre did not however rule out additional measures being introduced before December 24th.

“What we have presented today is based on the knowledge we already have,” he said.

“It is the total restrictions that count. If we are in the same situation (as now) when we get to December 24th, you can celebrate Christmas normally,” Støre said, but noted the virus would be present throughout the winter.

The aim of any measures is to keep the pandemic under control throughout the winter, he added.

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