Julebord discouraged in Oslo

Businesses urged to cancel Christmas parties this year

Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB Scanpix
There is always an abundance of good food and drink at norsk julebord—as well as close contact.


The Oslo city government has extended local coronavirus restrictions and advised businesses not to go ahead with their traditional “julebord” Christmas parties.

Eighty people tested positive for COVID-19 in Oslo on Oct. 7, and 69 the following day, according to municipal figures. Daily case totals in the capital have generally remained between 40 and 50 since late September.

The city introduced local measures at the end of last month to reduce infections. This means Oslo already has stricter rules than the rest of the country, including a ban on public gatherings of over 10 people. The national rules stipulate a maximum of 20 people for such gatherings.

Measures put in place by local authorities will take precedence over the national rules. That means the end of the ban on bars serving alcohol after midnight will not apply in Oslo. The restrictions in the capital are now to be extended until further notice.

“Thirty percent of infections in Oslo are of unknown origin. That makes it risky to allow more people to go out and meet,” Mayor Raymond Johansen said. “We have evaluated the [national] easing of restrictions thoroughly against our local infections situation. The conclusion is clear: we must have stricter rules in Oslo than the rest of the country, at the moment.”

“Although Prime Minister Erna Solberg has encouraged businesses to go ahead with the traditional julebord for staff, that advice can not apply to Oslo with the current infection situation,” said the mayor.

Norwegians traditionally attend julebord Christmas parties organized every year to celebrate that the holidays are approaching. Most workplaces throw a julebord for their staff, and these events are notoriously packed with what later becomes office gossip, but friends and families also organize them in private.

The popular and often chaotic Christmas festivity involves eating lots of traditional Norwegian Christmas food and getting drunk on liquors, such as akevitt, a few weeks before Christmas Day. Julebord normally take place in early December, although any time during the month is fine, while November is considered too early.

“We must not bend the rules and gather as many people as possible within the allowed limit. When we introduced the rule limiting gatherings to 10 people a lot of people asked, ‘could my gathering be okay?’” he said.

“We have to change the way we think about people,” the mayor said.

“That means as few private gatherings possible, as few children’s birthday parties as possible. I know it’s hard, but we want to avoid closing daycare facilities and schools at all costs,” he said.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 23, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Local

This article first appeared in The Local, a independent source for Norway's news in English. Visit www.thelocal.no.