Christmas porridge and such

Tom asked me in the comments what Norwegian Christmas porridge is.

Strictly speaking, it’s not Christmas porridge, just like pumpkin pie isn’t Thanksgiving pie, but some things are more associated with a holiday than not. And so it is with the foods I’ve bought in handy-dandy pre-made single-servings:

On the left is “rømmegrøt”, sour cream porridge, also eaten in the spring, but then accompanied by a big pretzel and various jerkied meats. For Christmas, it is served by itself. It’s heavy food. I’ll be sprinkling cinnamon, sugar and raisins on it, probably on Christmas day.

In the middle is my Christmas dinner, according to the traditions of western Norway. Here, we eat dried and cured sheep’s ribs with mashed turnips (kohlrabi), boiled potatoes, and a bit of the grease from the ribs. The ribs are called “pinnekjøtt” because they are traditionally steamed over birch sticks (“pinne”); the drippings are often saved to use on lutefisk, another seasonal food. I see that my package also includes a bit of sausage from Voss, “vossakorv”. Yummy! I have a couple of bottles of Christmas ale to go with the meal.

On the right is the Christmas porridge. I associate rice porridge with Christmas, as do a lot of people. It is served hot with a pat of butter in the middle, sugar and cinnamon sprinkled generously, maybe some milk on it, and an almond. The one almond goes in the main pot and whoever finds the almond in their bowl of porridge gets a surprise gift, usually a marzipan pig. (One commercial on Norwegian TV shows the idyllic Christmas dinner scene totally ruined by grandpa offering a candied apple as the gift instead of a marzipan pig.)

There are a couple of traditional desserts that go with the traditional Christmas dinner. One is cloudberry cream, basically cloudberries and whipped cream, and it is a very light dessert and perfect after such a heavy meal. Another, cheaper and more common dessert is so-called rice cream. It is rice porridge “thinned” with whipped cream and served cold with raspberry sauce. Since I have never really liked raspberry sauce (simply referred to as red sauce in Norwegian), I have opted for the porridge.

Christmas dinner is eaten on Christmas Eve here in Norway. Protege mentions the “eve before the eve” and a uniquely Swedish tradition for it in her blog. Norwegians, too, call December 23rd “lillejulaften” (Little Christmas Eve), and it is typically the day when the Christmas tree is decorated and all the cookies for Christmas are baked. I have no tree (can’t be bothered), but I do like the “warm-up” on “lillejulaften”. Our unique tradition for that day is the the airing of “The Birthday Party”, which is called “Grevinnen og hovmesteren” (“The Countess and the Butler”) in Norway. No “grevinnen”, no Christmas. It’s that simple. And that funny.

By Keera Ann Fox

I am a bi-lingual American who has lived most of my life in Norway.
Jeg er en tospråklig amerikaner som har bodd mesteparten av mitt liv i Norge.

7 replies on “Christmas porridge and such”

Keera, how fun! Norwegians have quiet different culinary traditions comes Christmas Eve, then both Swedes and Danes. In Denmark pork is served for Christmas Eve dinner with potatoes and red cabbage and in Sweden they eat Christmas ham.;) Interestingly though, the Christmas porridge is very common as a traditional desert in both countries.;))) It is always fun to read another Scandinavian blog!;))Thank you so much for linking to my place.;))May your Lillejulaften and Julaften be absolutely lovely!!!xoxo


Thanks for posting this, I found it very interesting (I love this kind of stuff).We also eat Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve here in Portugal. Traditionally, the meal consists of cod fish and boiled cabbage and potatoes. Yes, cod fish at Christmas! The Portuguese sure love cod fish hehe. Oh, and after that there\’s dessert, of course!Anyway… Merry Christmas or \’god jul\’ (right?). 🙂


Nicole, it\’s one of my favorites.Protege, the Danish Christmas dinner is the same as for eastern Norway/Oslo, and is very good. Up north, they typically have fresh cod for Christmas. I wish you a pleasant Christmas/yule.Lora, if you see what I wrote to Protege, you\’ll note the Portuguese aren\’t alone. 🙂 \”God jul\” is correct, and I wish you one, too.


Keera – I have a couple of things to say: 1) Thank you so much for explaining what Norwegian porridge is, I hope you haven\’t gone to all this trouble just for me! Incidentally, have you ever seen the UK comedy \”The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin\”? If you have, you\’ll understand my amusement at the word \”grot\”. If you haven\’t, you should! I think you\’ll love it!2) I know your Christmas hasn\’t gone entirely to plan, but I wish you a wonderful Christmas anyway! May it be everything you want it to be and more!Tom


Spark, cloudberry jam is also tasty.Tom, why, yes, I did go to all this trouble for you. Fortunately, both kitchen floor, camera and prepackaged food were all in cooperation, so it wasn\’t any trouble at all.Wikipedia has now told me what \”grot\” means, and it is oddly appropriate for something like rømmegrøt.I wish you a wonderful Christmas, too! Maybe you\’ll get to see the hunchbacks!


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