Public Holidays and Observances in Norway

Official holidays are often referred to as ‘red days’ (røde dager)*. These are mostly religious or secular holidays.


New Year’s Day | Nyttårsdag *

This is a quiet day, mostly spent with family and/or recovering from partying the night before.

Public Holiday. Schools, stores & banks closed.


Mother’s Day | Mors Dag

Always the second Sunday in February. Children get up early and decorate the house to honor the mother. Kids make coffee and prepare cream-cake (or breakfast) to serve to the mother in bed, in addition to flowers and gifts. Grandmothers are also honored on this day with flowers and gifts.

Winter Vacation Vinterferie

School winter vacation for one week in mid to late February.


Celebrated seven Sundays prior to Easter. Fastelavn is the celebration of the days coming up to Lent. Fastelavnsbolle (lit. “Fastelavns bun”, also known in English as “shrovetide bun” or “lenten bun”), a round sweet roll usually covered with icing and sometimes filled with whipped cream are eaten on this day. Fastelavnsris are sold the week before or can be made – they are birch branches decorated with colorful feathers, eggshells, candy, and figurines.

This holiday is similar to Carnival, Ash Wednesday, and Pancake Tuesday in other religions/cultures.


Easter | Påske *

Easter is a rather long holiday in Norway. Schools and some businesses close the Friday prior to Palm Sunday and start again the Tuesday after Easter. Giving of Easter eggs full of candy to friends and family is common. Though Easter is a religious holiday, many do not celebrate it as such. Many people retreat to their cabins/go skiing or travel someplace furthur away since this is such a long holiday. Easter is synonymous with vacation in Norway. The coming of spring is often prepared for in the garden over this time.

On Easter Sunday a large family meal is to be expected. Some attend Church this morning as well. Reading crime novels or watching detective shows is very popular during this time. Many “Easter-Thriller” novels and series come out at this time.

Palmesøndag – Palm Sunday
Skjærtorsdag – Maundy Thursday
Langfredag – Good Friday
Påskeaften – Easter Eve
1. påskedag – Easter Sunday
2. påskedag – Easter Monday

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are all public holidays – schools, stores and banks will be closed. Some stores may close early on Wednesday before Maundy Thursday and Saturday (Easter Eve). Half working day on Wednesday before Maundy Thursday for most businesses.


May 1 | Arbeiderenes Dag *

Labor Day. Flags are raised high this day, you will see politicians making speeches about workers’ rights, parades, and wreaths are laid on memorials.
Public Holiday. Schools, stores & banks closed.

May 8

Veterans who survived the World Wars are honored. This marks the day WWII ended. Memorial sites are covered with wreaths, bands will play and flags will fly high.

Ascension Day | Kristi Himmelfartsdag *

Ascension Day is the 40th day of Easter. It occurs 39 days after Easter Sunday. It is a Christian holiday that commemorates Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven according to Christian belief. In Norway there is no special celebration for this day. Spring is welcomed and a nice meal is prepared.
Public Holiday. Schools, stores & banks closed.

May 17 | Grunnlovsdag *

National Day or Constitution Day. This is one of Norway’s favorite holidays. On May 17, 1814 the Constitution was formally signed – this is seen as Norway’s birthday. Many people wear their bunad (traditional costumes) and most participate in or watch the Norwegian Constitution Day parade that day, consisting mostly of children and youths, through the cities and towns. Children are generally allowed to eat as much ice-cream as they want on this day. Hot dogs are also very popular on this day.
Public Holiday. Schools, stores & banks closed.

This is a time of graduation celebrations during 1st to the 17th of May.

Pentecost/Whitsuntide *

The seventh Sunday & Monday after Easter celebrating the sending of the Holy Spirit to the first followers of Christ. While no actual religious celebration generally takes place in Norway, families tend to gather and barbeque (since it is usually nice weather).
Public Holiday. Schools, stores & banks closed.


7 Juni | Independence Day

This is the day Norway declared its independence from Sweden in 1905, flags are flown high this day.

Jonsok | Santhans Aften | Midsummer

Midsummer Eve is June 23rd, Midsummer is the longest day of the year. The night is celebrated with music, barbeques and bonfires.



Last 3 weeks of July. National summer vacation when most businesses close for 3 weeks.


Autumn Vacation Høstferie

School fall vacation for one week in the end of September or beginning of October.



Halloween (October 31) has only grown into a commercial occasion in the last ten years and is not part of Norwegian tradition. Children dress up and “trick or treat” in the evening.


Allehelgendag | All Saints’ Day

Celebrated on the first Sunday of November, this is a Norwegian Church Holiday to commemorate the dead. Tradition is to place lit candles and wreathes on loved ones’ graves.

Father’s Day | Fars Dag

Celebrated on the second Sunday of November to honor fathers. Children get up early and decorate the house to honor the fathers. Kids make coffee and prepare cream-cake (or breakfast) to serve to the father in bed, in addition to flowers and gifts. Grandfathers are also honored on this day with flowers and gifts.


Advent is a time of waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ – Christmas. It starts 4 sundays prior to the 25th of December. Tradition is to place out 4 purple candles and light one each Sunday. It is very common for many household goods to be replaced with purple goods during this season (ie. hand towels). Advent Calendars are also very popular at this time.


St. Lucia Day

St Lucia Day is on December 13 and is a celebration of light. Children dress up with white dresses and light candles and sing the December darkness away. Not an official holiday.

Winter Solstice

Officially the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year. Generally December 21 or 22 depending on the year. After this point daylight starts to get longer.

Christmas | Jul *

December 23rd is the common day to put up a Christmas tree. Christmas in Norway is celebrated on the 24th; some will go to church, families will eat a large Christmas dinner together and soon after, Santa (usually Granddad, Dad or Uncle in costume) will arrive with presents. On Christmas day, families gather for brunch and relax, while children play with their new toys.
Public Holiday on 25th December. Schools, stores & banks closed. Half working day on 24th Dec for most businesses.

Boxing Day | Andre Juledag *

The 26th is generally spent relaxing with family.

Public Holiday on 26th December. Schools, stores & banks closed.

New Year’s Eve | Nyttårs Aften

Tradition is to have a big family dinner on this evening. After dinner, people have parties with their family and/or friends. Just before midnight people go outside and light fireworks. Major cities have public fireworks though most people buy their own to set off. At midnight everyone gives cheers and hugs saying “Godt Nytt År (Happy New Year) and/or “Takk for det gamle (Thanks for the past year)”.

Half working day for most businesses.