This article will explore the most commonly served drinks and desserts during the Christmas season.
Gløgg (Mulled wine)
Gløgg is a hot drink which was originally alcoholic but is now available in alcohol-free varieties. This drink is the Scandinavian version of mulled wine (English) or ‘Glühwein‘ (German hot spiced wine) and is widely associated with the Christmas season.
Recipes for gløgg vary widely but the main ingredients are usually red wine with sugar or syrup. Brandy and cognac may also be added. Other additional ingredients include cinnamon sticks, cloves, raisins, orange peel and chopped almonds. Non-alcoholic gløgg can be bought ready-made or prepared with fruit juices instead of wine.
Traditional gløgg contains 18% alcohol. It is heated to about 67°C (never above 70°C).
The name gløgg comes from the Swedish expression ‘glödgat vin‘ and is from the early 1600s. It refers to the production method where sugar is dipped into cognac and ignited. The flame melts the sugar and gives the brew its sweetness.
If you have not tried gløgg before, be sure to try it this Christmas!
Juleøl (Christmas beer)
Christmas beers are often dark and strong beers that are sold during the Christmas season. The brewing of special beers for Christmas is a tradition that stems from the Viking age. It was mandatory for all large farms then to brew Christmas beer and share it with their neighbours.
A fun and social activity that some Norwegians do is to get together sometime in November or December for a ‘Christmas beer tasting night’ where everyone buys different types of Christmas beer to share.
Julebrus (Christmas Soda)
Julebrus is a Norwegian soft drink/soda that is traditionally sold during the Christmas season. They are easily identifiable by the festive labels on the bottles. These drinks are generally red or reddish brown in colour, although you may see green or yellow varieties too. Julebrus was brewed as a Christmas drink for minors, who are not eligible by law to drink juleøl (Christmas beer) or other alcoholics drinks.
Aquavit (also spelled Aquavite or Akvavit and also known as Snaps) is a potato-based liquor and said to be the Norwegian national drink. It is a flavoured, distilled liquor, clear to pale yellow in colour, dry in flavour, and ranging in alcohol content from about 42 to 45% by volume. It is distilled from a fermented potato or grain mash, redistilled in the presence of flavouring agents, filtered with charcoal, and usually bottled without aging. Various aromatic flavourings are employed, usually including caraway or cumin seed; lemon or orange peel, cardamom, aniseed, and fennel also may be used.
Aquavit derives its name from aqua vitae (Latin: “water of life”), applied originally to liquor distilled from wine, and was made from imported wine; the product therefore was highly expensive until Swedish soldiers learned to make aquavit from grain. In the 18th century the potato became an important raw material.
Aquavit is said to be a digestive, and goes well with heavy meals, like Christmas dinners. Aquavit is usually served chilled and unmixed, in small glasses.
Tradition dictates that seven different sorts of Christmas cookies should be served at Christmas, and that all should be home-baked, although many busy families today simply buy the ready made variety. See our article on Christmas Baking and learn about the seven sorts and more here.
Dessert made of cloudberries and whipped cream.
A popular almond ring cake that features in all big occasions in Norway. It comprises 18 rings of increasing size stacked on top of each other to form a conical pyramid. It is usually decorated with miniature Norwegian flags.
Rice porridge mixed with whipped cream and served with red sauce (berries).
Marzipan is a confection consisting primarily of sugar or honey and almond meal, sometimes augmented with almond oil or extract and is a popular Christmas treat in Norway. Chocolate-coated marzipan is a hot favourite, but one can also buy coloured marzipan to make your own marzipan shapes.
A yummy custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top.
Other popular desserts include ice cream with berries and fruit salads. However, each and every family is different so choice of desserts can vary widely.