Christmas porridge: trend and tradition

Seventy-seven percent of Norwegians eat julegrøt

Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB
Most Norwegians will eat rice porridge at least once in December, and many eat it on Christmas eve.

Mette Estep
NTB

As many as 77% of all Norwegians are expected to eat julegrøt—Christmas porridge made with rice—at least once in December, with 29% eating it on Christmas Eve. These numbers are on a par with last year and the years before.

Every year, Norstat conducts a survey for the Information Office for Dairy Products (Melk.no). In November, people answer about what they eat in connection with Christmas and who they eat it with. The figures show that the start of the julegrøt season is well underway. 34% expect to eat Christmas porridge before Dec. 23.

28% will eat rice porridge on Dec. 23, 29% on Dec. 24, and 17% eat porridge on one of the other days of the Christmas holiday.

“It is primarily with your immediate family and relatives that you eat julegrøt, but a third of those who eat it before Christmas eat it in the company of friends and colleagues,” says nutritionist Terese Glemminge Arnesen at Melk.no to NTB.

Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB
Christmas porridge is easy to make, economical, and very delicious.

Trend and tradition
In recent decades, there has been a lot of talk about a growing healthy porridge trend, with increased interest in everything from water-based refrigerated porridge to the good old oat or barley porridge for everyday use.

Previous surveys show that in 1991, 9% of Norwegians said they ate oatmeal at least once a week, a number that increased to 15% in 2013. This year, a whopping 22% said they eat oatmeal on a weekly basis. Urban women, in particular, have an appetite for oatmeal.

However, there are just as many men as women who say they eat Christmas porridge. It is also those under 30 and families with young children who have the greatest appetite for Christmas porridge, and tradition weighs heavily.

And although the trend for the consumption of healthy everyday porridge is catching on, it apparently has not taken the traditional place of Christmas porridge, the favored julegrøt.

“Year after year, we see that Christmas and Christmas traditions for the vast majority are quite unshakable. We will eat what we have always eaten. What has changed a lot, however, is when we start celebrating. Most things start earlier and end correspondingly earlier,” says Arnesen.

Photo: Kristoffer Møllevik / Visit Helgeland
Mosjøen, Nordland boasts the world’s longest julegrøt table. People gather in the thousands to eat Christmas porridge along Sjøgata early in the morning on the second weekend in December.

Porridge plusses
Opinion has also carried out a Christmas survey on behalf of the food blog MatPrat.

Among other things, people were asked what they would eat for Christmas dinner on Dec. 24—and porridge didn’t exactly win there. Only 3% of those polled stated that it is likely that rice porridge will be the main course on Christmas Eve this year. However, 38% say that riskrem (rice cream) is the favorite dessert for Christmas this year.

“Yes, the tradition is to still eat Christmas porridge in the morning and another dinner in the evening,” confirms Arnesen, but she says the porridge still finds its way to the dinner table.

“Since so many people eat porridge during the days leading up to Christmas, and rice cream is the country’s most popular dessert, many people make a large portion of rice porridge first and then make rice cream with the leftovers. We have also seen that many people use leftover rice porridge for a number of tasty things, such as rice pancakes or rice cream cake,” she says.

Julegrøt Christams porridge

Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB
Riskrem, rice cream made from leftover porridge, is a popular dessert on Christmas.

A couple of factors weigh in the porridge’s favor: It can now be obtained in many ready-made and instant varieties from Norwegian producers, and it represents food in line with Norwegian traditions, which typically increases in popularity in uncertain times. In tighter economic times with world turmoil, people are becoming more concerned about food security.

“Our attitudes towards Norwegian-produced food have been positive for a long time, but the importance of our own food production seems to increase during times of crisis. We saw the same trend early in the pandemic, in March 2020, when support for Norwegian-produced food was at 88% in our survey,” says Arnesen.

Make your own julegrøt Christmas porridge for Christmas Eve with former Taste of Norway Editor Daytona Strong Danielsen.

In her 2023 Christmas message to our readers, Ambassador Anniken R. Krutnes talks about Christmas traditions in Norway.

 

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