Christmas As Usual – Having fun with Norwegian stereotypes!

Would you like to see what Christmas is like in thousands of Norwegian homes every year? Then you better travel to Norway and ask someone to receive you into their home. Would you like an easier solution? You can try to watch Christmas As Usual on Netflix, but it might not do the job very well!

There are lots of stereotypes about Norway, Norwegians, and how they celebrate Christmas and deal with winter. I have met many people who honestly believed that polar bears walk around the streets of Norwegian cities during the winter. Another interesting belief is that Norwegians don’t understand the concept of freezing. The normally refer to this by saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.

And then you have Christmas As Usual, a story about a Norwegian girl who gets engaged to an Indian guy. They decide to travel to the family of the girl to celebrate Christmas and this is the first time our Indian friend goes to Norway. This, of course, brings along lots of funny situations, and our Indian friend meets up with lots of Norwegian stereotypes.

Just to have fun, I asked ChatGPT to give me information about five stereotypes about Christmas in Norway. Here you go.

christmas as usual

Five stereotypes about celebrating Christmas in Norway (according to ChatGPT).

  1. Winter Wonderland and Northern Lights:
    One prevalent stereotype is that Christmas in Norway is a magical winter wonderland, complete with picturesque snow-covered landscapes and the dancing hues of the Northern Lights. While Norway does experience a winter wonder, the presence of snow and the ethereal beauty of the Northern Lights can vary depending on the region and weather conditions.
  2. Traditional Norwegian Cuisine:
    Norwegian Christmas cuisine is often stereotyped as a hearty and traditional affair, featuring dishes like lutefisk (dried fish soaked in lye), pinnekjøtt (dried and salted lamb or mutton ribs), and rakfisk (fermented fish). While these dishes do have a place in Norwegian Christmas traditions, contemporary celebrations often include a diverse range of international and modern dishes.
  3. Santa’s Norwegian Helper – Nisse:
    In Norwegian folklore, the Nisse is a mythical creature believed to be a mischievous yet benevolent household spirit. During Christmas, the stereotype suggests that Norwegians believe in the Nisse as Santa’s little helper, leaving porridge out for them on Christmas Eve in exchange for good luck and protection. While the Nisse is a part of Christmas traditions, it’s often embraced as a charming cultural element rather than a serious belief.
  4. Extended Christmas Celebrations:
    There is a stereotype that Christmas in Norway is not just a one-day affair but rather a season of extended celebrations. Norwegians are said to start their Christmas preparations early in December, with the celebration lasting through New Year’s. While the holiday season is indeed significant, the duration and intensity of celebrations can vary among individuals and families.
  5. Outdoor Activities and Sports:
    Another stereotype is that Norwegians embrace the winter season by engaging in various outdoor activities and sports during Christmas. This may include skiing, ice skating, and sledding. While winter sports are popular in Norway, not everyone partakes in these activities during the Christmas season. Many Norwegians also enjoy spending time indoors with family and friends, engaging in cozy traditions like decorating the Christmas tree and exchanging gifts.

What is the truth? Do we meet any of these stereotypes in the movie? Absolutely! The snow is always present throughout the movie, it is cold, and they eat all sorts of traditional Norwegian food. I really laughed as they ate what our Indian friend considered to be tasteless food, and it solved all problems as he spiced it up with some curry! Many people who have been to Norway will recognize this feeling as they consider the food Norwegians love to be quite spiceless and tasteless.

We meet the Norwegian nisse in the movie, but not exactly in the way that the leave porridge for him on Christmas Eve. Instead, he comes with the presents and brings magic on December 24 (except he doesn’t bring much joy and magic in this movie).

We meet the two last stereotypes as the family celebrates tiny-tiny Christmas on December 22, and then tiny Christmas on December 23, and then big Christmas on December 24. All of this is reality, but still, they managed to hit this stereotype seriously in Christmas As Usual.

Then you have the stereotype about outdoor activities. I didn’t know about this stereotype, but as the family goes ice bathing, they definitely try to hit this stereotype on the head as well.

One more thing that the movie portrays that many consider to be very Norwegian is the clothing. First, everyone is dressed up in the hand-knitted Norwegian sweater… then they are wearing their traditional bunad on December 24.

But, is the movie worth watching?

That is another question. It has quite a lot of cool jokes, and it certainly invites you into a home full of Norwegian stereotypes. The movie still, however, is quite flat, and not very interesting. In other words, a typical Christmas movie created on one of the many streaming platforms out there… just enough because we want to get some Christmas atmosphere, but nothing more than that.

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