Advent in most Christian denominations is the time of expectant waiting and preparation for Christmas. It starts four Sundays before Christmas and this year that’s November 28th – the Sunday right after Thanksgiving here in America.
In Norway, people often have 4 candles, one for each of the Sundays, sometimes in wreaths on the table, or candlesticks in the window. A candle is lit for each Sunday as they pass, starting with a single candle on “første advent” – the first advent – and finally with all four candles lit the Sunday right before Christmas.
Families spend time together preparing for Christmas, perhaps baking cookies or making decorations. Sometimes hot chocolate is served on those cold winter nights, or maybe some “gløgg” – mulled wine. And of course, some of the cookies right out of the oven!
With the darkness of Norwegian winters where the sun can go down at 4pm, lighting candles has a tradition beyond Christmas. In fact, a walk in the winter streets in Norway reveals cozy scenes in most living rooms where candles often flicker everywhere. <Read about the buzzword “koselig” – cozy – and how it’s achieved in Norway.>
Many like to also hang an “adventstjerne” or advent star in their window. It is hung on the first advent and hangs throughout Christmas and the New Year. Stars, in fact, are a large part of Norwegian Christmas decor…perhaps because we feel so close to the stars in our dark nights.