And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Except for the Norwegians...
So enthusiastic is the countdown to Christmas that Norwegians, like those in most other European countries, celebrate it on the night of Christmas Eve. From any time after 5 o’clock in the evening, key traditions such as the main feast and exchange of gifts take place. It is also typical on Christmas Eve to light candles at the graves of relatives (see below). A father or neighbour may dress up as Santa Claus, knocking on the front door to ask “Are there any good children here?”; sometimes this visit takes place in the afternoon, much to the delight of kids who are too excited to wait until the evening for presents. (See my own Christmas Eve visit from Santa, below.)
I’m not sure about other countries in Europe, but the celebration of Christmas on Christmas Eve is so established that Norway also has a Christmas Eve Eve (called Lille Julaften), which is typically the time for decorating the Christmas tree and the final preparations for the Christmas festivities.