Norwegian expression of the day: Kvelden før kvelden

Norwegian expression of the day: Kvelden før kvelden
Norway's royal family posing for a socially distanced Christmas picture. Photo: AFP
This is something Norwegian children both love and dread.

Why do I need to know kvelden før kvelden?

Because it’s an important part of Norwegian culture that coincidentally happens tonight.

What does it mean?

Kvelden før kvelden means ‘the evening before the evening’.

Kveld is Norwegian for ‘evening’ and før means ‘before’.

It’s an expression that refers to a special evening: December 23rd, which in Norway also means the day before Christmas Eve: lille julaften (little Christmas Eve).

Norwegians celebrate Christmas on the 24th. It’s a big day that begins early in the morning, but really kicks in during dinner, which usually is set just after the all boy’s choir Sølvguttene (the Silver Boys) ringer julen inn (call in Christmas).

So kvelden før kvelden is the night before the big night, when Norwegian children can’t sleep out of all the excitement of finding their julestrømpe (Christmas stocking) stuffed with goodies the morning after. 

Some would say kvelden før kvelden is the longest night of the year, because all you want is for it to be the 24th.

But there are nice things happening on December 23rd as well. Some families eat risengrynsgrøt (Norwegian Christmas porridge) with an almond hidden in the pot. The person who gets the almond traditionally wins a Marzipan pig.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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READ ALSO: Which of these Norwegian Christmas traditions is the strangest?

Kvelden før kvelden is also a TV-show that first aired in 1980 and since then has been a tradition, filling Norwegian homes with Christmas songs and Christmas cooking on the eve of every December 23rd.

And let’s not forget the most important kvelden før kvelden tradition of all, which is to watch Grevinnen og hovmesteren, the British 1920s film Dinner for One. In Norway, there’s no Christmas without the drunken butler James.

Use it like this

Det er kvelden før kvelden i kveld. – It’s the evening before the evening tonight.

Jeg hater kvelden før kvelden, det er så forferdelig slitsomt å vente på julaften. – I can’t stand the evening before the evening. It’s so horribly tiring to wait for Christmas eve.

Det beste med lille julaften er Kvelden før kvelden og å se på Grevinnen og hovmesteren. – The best thing about ‘little Christmas eve’ is the TV show Kvelden før kvelden and watching Dinner for one.

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