Norwegian habits For Members

Why do Norwegians eat lunch so early?

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Why do Norwegians eat lunch so early?
Norwegians tend to take lunch quite early, but why? Pictured is an example of the open sandwhich which is incredibly common in Scandinavia. Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Working in Norway means adapting to a new way of doing things. One of the things that catches many foreigners off-guard is just how early Norwegians take lunch.


Lunch in Norway can be early, really early. Some people can be expected to eat their lunch as early as 10:30am, and anywhere between 10:30am and midday would be considered normal.

Every company does things differently, and employees have their own habits built into their working day, but even then, it would be unusual to see anyone eating lunch past 12:30pm or 1:00pm.

READ ALSO: The Norwegian eating habits the world could learn from

There are some obvious exceptions to this, such as those who do shift work, so they start earlier and finish later than the typical Norwegian working day.

Lunch at 10:30am contrasts massively with when lunch is eaten on the continent. In Italy, lunch is served between 1pm and 2:30pm, Spaniards won’t start lunch until 1:30 pm, and the French will eat lunch between 11:30am and 2:00pm.

Earlier lunches are also common in Sweden and Denmark. However, warm lunches are much more common in Sweden. Norwegians and Danes, on the other hand, will typically have a cold lunch comprised of sandwiches or leftovers. Some will meal prep and a growing number of workplaces in Oslo will have canteens where hot and cold food is available to workers.

One explanation for the earlier lunches is the working days in Norway. Many workers in Norway will typically start between 7:30am to 8:00am and finish between 3:30pm and 4:00pm.

Some sectors may have collective bargaining agreements that dictate that the working day be 7.5 hours rather than 8.

Therefore, if you are starting earlier and finishing early too, it makes more sense to have lunch earlier.


Kids in schools in Norway follow a similar pattern, starting at 8am and having lunch by midday.

Much of the modern tradition involving mealtimes in Norway revolves as much around children as working hours.

The shorter working days in Norway make it easy to drop off your child and pick them up from school or kindergarten. Whether the working days were designed with this in mind or whether it’s the effect of the focus on work-life balance is unclear.

It also means Norwegian families eat dinner a lot earlier. Kids in Norway are signed up for all sorts of activities and clubs in the evening. This means dinner is eaten a lot earlier, between 4pm and 5pm. This ensures kids go to their activities on a full stomach.

READ MORE: What time do Norwegians have dinner?

The early dinner is also the result of the early lunch. If you’ve eaten lunch at 11am, you are likely to be quite hungry by the time that 5pm rolls around.



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