How Norwegians Celebrate Advent

Angel Chime candle holder

How Norwegians Celebrate Advent

Angel Chime candle holder

Advent is a Christian religious festival which marks the coming of Christ. In Norway there are many traditions connected to Advent, and Norwegians have different ways to celebrate and cherish this time of the year. Here’s a few of them so that you can understand better how Norwegians appreciate Advent.

christmas advent star 2

Light a Candle

Advent starts on the last Sunday of November, and lasts until the 24th of December. It’s a time of the year with little daylight in Norway, and one needs some extra light to shine in the darkness.

In many Norwegian homes you’ll find an adventsstake (Advent candle holder). This is a candle holder with four candles on it, one for each Sunday of Advent. The candles are meant to shed light the same way that Jesus lit up the world with his presence.

Angel Chime candle holder

On the first Sunday of Advent, family members gather in their houses and light one candle. After lighting it someone will say the following:

Så tenner vi et lys i kveld, vi tenner det for gledeDet står og skinner for seg selv og oss som er tilstedeSå tenner vi et lys i kveld, vi tenner det for glede Tonight we light a candle, we light it for happinessIt stands and shines by itself and for us who are presentTonight we light a candle, we light it for happiness The next Sunday you’ll light two candles, the third Sunday three candles, and on the last Sunday you’ll light all four candles. Here are also the verses that we say for Sunday number two, three and four: Tonight we light two candles, we light them for hope & happinessThey stand and shines by themselves and for us who are presentTonight we light two candles, we light them for hope & happiness Tonight we light three candles, we light them for longing, hope & happinessThey stand and shines by themselves and for us who are presentTonight we light three candles, we light them for longing, hope & happiness Tonight we light four candles, and let them burn all the way downFor longing, happiness, hope and peace, but most of all for peaceon this little earth, where all the humans lives  

Advent Candle Holder

 Traditionally the Advent candle holder was a wreath made of spruce, decorated with white candles and purple ribbons. If you go to a church in Norway you’ll discover that it is still done this way, sometimes with purple candles. However, in most Norwegian homes you’ll find the candle holders in many different shapes and colors. I own several, but one that I light every year is this Angel Chimes candle holder.  You can find nice Advent candle wreaths and holders on Amazon or Etsy

Advent Candles wreath

Photo: Jonathunder, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


Colors on Advent Candles

 For the colors of the candles some prefer white and some prefer red (for Christmas). Some might want to follow the Christian tradition which is having a white candle on the first Sunday of Advent. The white candle is the festive color of the church and sets the tone for joy and expectations for the time to come. On the next three Sundays the church uses purple candles. This color symbolizes repentance, the spirit, seriousness and penance. This is after all a time for fast and penance for the time until Christ comes.  

Advent Calendar

advent calendar chocolate

Photo: Lumentzaspi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A great way to make the countdown to Christmas is an Advent calendar. More or less all kids in Norway will have a calendar, but quite a few adults as well as it brings back good childhood memories, or perhaps its a good excuse for a little piece of chocolate every morning.

What’s in the calendar however is not the most important. The most important is that is covers all the days from 1st to the 24th of December. You could say that it should start on the Sunday of Advent, but since this differs every year between November 27 and December 3, it typically always starts on the 1st of December.

Check out these fun chocolate Advent Calendars on Amazon.

The calendars are opened in the early morning of each day of December. If you have kids this is a great way to get them out of bed. They come in a multiple of forms, from simple paper calendars with small pieces of chocolate, to more elaborate ones with a little present wrapped for each day of December.

In Norway, adults can even buy beer calendars in the store, all though its probably advisable to open those a bit later in the day. You might want to check out Etsy for a wide range of different calendars.

Advent Clove Calendar

Clove Advent Calendar

A traditional fun calendar that you can easily make yourself is a nellikkalender (clove calendar). This is basically an orange with 24 cloves pinned into it. Every day, beginning on the 1st of December, I remove one clove. For Norwegians this is a cozy countdown to Christmas Eve.

The origin of this calendar is not so cozy though. It was believed back in the middle ages that if you carried around a “pomander” you would not smell the plague, and if you did not smell the plague it could not infect you. How this evolved into an Advent calendar seems uncertain, but a clove calendar is still very popular in Norway today. 

Advent Star

Advent Star

During the Advent season Norwegians will bring out their Adventsjerne or Julestjerne. This is an advent star (Christmas star) that people hang up in their windows. It’s a great decorative element both for those inside the house and for those on the outside who can enjoy plenty of stars hanging around in peoples windows.

For many there is nothing that brings the Christmas spirit more than lighting the star when you wake up in the morning, or turning it on in the evening. It’ll hang as a beacon, reminding you that Christmas and brighter days are ahead.

Etsy got a bunch of nice stars, and I really like this one. Or Check out some nice paper stars on Amazon. I hope this article gave you some ideas to how you can cherish Advent the way that Norwegians do. Please share it with anyone you might think would be interested. Ha en fin Advent! Happy Advent!Pål Pin for later!   

Your friend in Norway,


Pål of Norway With Pål

Pål of Norway With Pål

Norway native, veteran travel guide, sailor, filmmaker, and writer (you might have seen me in one of Rick Steves’ guidebooks!). I want to help you enjoy Norway the right way — like a local. Learn more about me.

DISCLAIMER: Products on this page may contain affiliate links, and I might make a small sum per purchase. For you this does not affect the product price, but supports me and my work, and makes me able to continue sharing my passion for Norway with you. Read the Disclaimer policy. Thank you, tusen takk!


  1. Gini Walsh on December 14, 2022 at 7:04 pm

    Great article about Christmas celebrations. I understand that having links to Amazon helps you earn some money but I am sorry that you are promoting Amazon. I absolutely detest this company although I have to admit that sometimes (fairly rarely) I actually do purchase items through Amazon. I prefer to support local businesses instead of Amazon. Also Amazon has contributed increasingly to waste, often sending returned items directly to landfils instead of reselling them or recycling them. Amazon’s carbon footprint is huge – trees used to make all those cardboard boxes, vast amounts of product being shipped all over the world, etc. Sorry for the rant but I really really wish you could find a better sponsor. I understand if you prefer not to publish this comment.

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