Norwegian traditions and customs

What traditions and customs are there in Norway?

We immerse ourselves in the customs and traditions of Norway, in Northern Europe.


Food in daily life

The food considered by many to be the most typically Norwegian is brown cheese which is thinly sliced ​​with a cheese flat (a Norwegian invention) and eaten on bread.

Breakfasts (frokost) generally consist of coffee, bread (including flat or crusty bread), pickled or smoked fish, deli meats, perhaps boiled eggs, and dairy products such as cheese, butter, yogurt, and varieties of sour milk.

Breakfast can be more substantial than the midday meal (Monsj), which may consist of an open sandwich of bread, cheese, pate, or cold meat, perhaps accompanied by a piece of fruit and coffee.

Fish and meat (pork, beef, lamb, chicken and whale) and boiled potatoes, usually served with gravy or melted butter, have traditionally defined the middag meal.

Root vegetables, such as carrots, often complement potatoes. Beer or wine is occasionally drunk in the evening. Pizza and hamburgers are popular casual foods and are often served at fast food restaurants.

Cafes and coffee shops serve open sandwiches with cold meats, smoked fish or cheese, as well as simple but substantial meals of meat or fish and boiled potatoes.

Chinese, Indian and other ethnic restaurants tend to occupy the mid-price niche, while seafood and continental restaurants are the most expensive. In recent decades, cuisine has become more diversified and international.

Fat consumption has decreased in the last twenty years, meat consumption has never been higher, and fish consumption has decreased and is well below what is recommended by the Nutrition Council. The popularity of potatoes has decreased, while that of rice and pasta has increased.

Cereal consumption remains stable. Norway has continued to hunt minke whales along its coast. Whale meat is eaten as a steak or in a stew.

Food customs on ceremonial occasions

For Constitution Day, many families traditionally eat a meal of flatbread, thinly sliced ​​dried meats, and milk porridge, with beer or aquavit as a drink. Christmas meal traditions vary by region and may include roast pork, other meat, or lutefisk.

On festive occasions, both restaurant and family meals may include a kaldt bord with a wide variety of cold meats, cheeses, shrimp, smoked or pickled fish, salads, jams, and soft and crispy breads. Cloud berries and blueberries, which grow wild on mountain plateaus, are favorites.


Marriages are supposed to be romantic love encounters between two individuals with similar values ​​and perspectives. Marriage for economic, social, or political reasons would seem inappropriate to most people. When King Harald, then crown prince, wished to marry a commoner instead of seeking a bride among the royal families of Europe, the nation approved.

Today, 38 percent of residents are married, compared to 47 percent in 1978. The divorce rate has doubled in the last twenty years. In this generation, married women have worked for pay outside the home to a greater extent than in previous generations.


Residents tend to be egalitarian, deprived, and non-competitive. Gender equality is observed in most social settings. People rarely use the polite or formal way of addressing someone; the use of the informal pronoun to refer to a person is almost universal.

Independence and self-sufficiency are valued. Being in debt from borrowing or receiving favors makes people uncomfortable. Individuals generally do not draw attention to themselves through loud speech or outlandish behavior.

Personal space is respected, so individuals keep well apart from each other when conversing. Punctuality is expected both in business and in social life.

People can be reserved around strangers, but are warm and friendly once a relationship has been established. One should not ask about personal matters unless one is well acquainted with a person. Respect for the dignity of each individual is expected.

Competition is downplayed in most settings, even the winners in sports competitions are supposed to be humble and not obviously proud. After the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, King Harald became concerned that the nation might not have been a good host since his athletes had won so many medals.


Religious beliefs

The Norwegian-born Viking Olav Tryggvason was baptized as a Christian in London in AD 994 Shortly thereafter, King Olav brought Christianity to his homeland, first converting the leaders and then the farmers. In 1536, the Reformation came to the area, with the consequence that a greater emphasis was placed on personal faith.

In 1814, the Evangelical Lutheran religion was named the official state religion, but the constitution also guaranteed freedom of religion. The Pietist movement, which was particularly strong in the country in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, posed an alternative to the state church and contributed to an individual sense of religious commitment not mediated by the clergy.

The state church subscribes to a belief in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. The main religious festivals celebrate the belief in the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. Other religious groups such as Roman Catholics, Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, Baptists and Methodists receive state subsidies. In recent years, immigrant populations have brought Islam to the nation.

Religious professionals

The king is the head of the state church, which employs a system of bishops and priests in the administrative structure. Local priests hold religious services and perform baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals. The king appointed the first female priestess in 1961 and the first female bishop in 1993.

More than seventy nationally organized voluntary Christian organizations reinforce religious beliefs and practices. These organizations also carry out missionary work at home and abroad and assist with youth work and welfare.

Rituals and sacred places

During the medieval period, the shrine of Saint Olav in Trondheim Cathedral was a destination for pilgrims. In the contemporary period, 87 percent of the population belongs to the state church.

Although about seven million church visits are recorded annually, many people are more likely to be on the ski slopes or hiking trails than in church on Sundays. Religious services at the state church are held weekly and on major religious holidays, including Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, and Whitmonday.

Death and the afterlife

According to state church doctrine, souls reside in heaven with Jesus after death. After the funeral, the body of the deceased is cremated or buried in a cemetery, usually adjacent to a church.

Secular celebrations

The main holidays are New Years (January 1), Labor Day (May 1), Constitution Day (May 17), Christmas (December 25), and Boxing Day (December 26). december). Labor Day is celebrated by the unions, with parades in the big cities.

The nation’s most important celebration is Constitution Day, which is an occasion for massive public parades by voluntary organizations, bands, unions, schools, and other civic groups. Christmas and Boxing Day focus on family visits and gift-giving.

The arts and humanities

Arts support

Due to the small population base, the artistic community faces the challenge of making a living. Government subsidies coordinated by thirty national artists’ organizations have provided a particularly Norwegian solution. Professional artists receive a minimum income until retirement.

Through a variety of cooperative agreements with counties and municipalities, the government has sponsored the creation of traveling cultural organizations, bringing concerts, theater and art exhibitions to smaller towns.


The Icelandic sagas of Snorri Sturlusson (1178-1241) are often considered the beginning of Norwegian literature, followed by The King’s Mirror, a 13th-century work. Pedar Clausson Friis (1545-1614) wrote descriptive works on the country and translated the sagas into Norwegian.

Petter Dass’s The Trumpet of the Northland (1700) details life in Norway. In the early 18th century, Ludvig Holberg wrote in a variety of forms, including satire and comedy. Henrik Wergeland (1808-1845) inspired the national romantic movement.

As a contribution to the discovery of a national culture, Peter Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe collected Norwegian folktales (1841-1844). In the nineteenth century, the dominant figure was Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), whose psychological dramas remain important in world literature. Knut Hamsun wrote powerful novels in the 20th century.

Later writers include Sigurd Hoel, Nordal Grieg, Tarjei Vesaas, and Nobel Prize winner Sigrid Undset. Important postwar writers include Jens Bjørneboe, Bjorg Vik, and Kjartan Flagstad.

Graphic arts

Nineteenth-century painters helped establish a national romantic vision. The symbolist works of Edvard Munch (1863-1944) have had international influence. In sculpture, Gustav Vigeland’s Frogner Park sculptures are well known. Ceramics, glass, jewelry, metalwork and textiles are central to Scandinavian design.

Performing arts

The country’s greatest musician, Edvard Grieg (1843-1907), was inspired by the popular themes of his native land, as was the violinist Ole Bull. Many cities have performing arts festivals. Perhaps the most famous is the annual Bergen Festival, which offers music, theater and dance. The Molde jazz festival is remarkable. The National Theater and the Oslo National Opera are important institutions.

Share the customs and traditions of Norway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button