Something I did not expect living in Norway was the enthusiasm for Christmas and the holiday season. As November comes to a close, lights are strung up on trees and on the trimming of houses, and slowly but surely decorated Christmas trees pop up in university buildings and shopping centers. Coffee shops move to bright red to-go cups and grocery stores fill up with advent calendars, Christmas cookies, and something known as “Christmas soda” (it is sickly sweet and sold everywhere).
This also means I got the chance to go to my first Christmas market. My German and Belgian classmates seemed very familiar with them, boasting about the food, the drinks, and the decorations at the markets in their home countries. I’ve never been to anything like it though, but “Jul i Vinterland” exceeded all my expectations.
The market is a big loop of stalls selling food like donuts, churros, sausages, waffles, hot chocolate, and more. There are also stalls selling wool beanies, scarves, and gloves. You can buy Christmas sweaters and tree ornaments. Everything is eye-catching and seasonal. There is a ferris wheel, a carousel, and a giant slide children can slide down. In the center of it all, an ice-skating rink awaits.
When I went, it was immensely crowded, speaking to the market’s popularity. I could not keep my eyes off anything, and my friend and I went on the ice with just our shoes, doing our best to slide around since the skate rental was still closed. I’ve never been a big fan of Christmas, but for the first time in a long time, I got a taste of Christmas joy, and why markets and celebrations are so popular and wonderful! Everywhere I looked, people were happy and laughing, children fell on the ice and got back up again, and my friend and I stood around a fire, warming our hands and making friends with the strangers beside us.