Do Norwegians Celebrate Thanksgiving? All You Need To Know!

Thanksgiving is one of the biggest holidays in the United States, but it’s also celebrated in many other countries around the world. But do Norwegians celebrate Thanksgiving?

Norwegians do not celebrate Thanksgiving, and there has never been any interest in adapting this holiday here in Norway. However, many Norwegian-descended Americans celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States.

So there you have it. Norway do not have a tradition for celebrating Thanksgiving, and it seems unlikely that the tradition will be adopted over here anytime soon (but who’s to say: we have adopted Black Friday and Halloween after all).

Despite us not really celebrating Thanksgiving in Norway, there is actually a historical tradition for it. This is from the celebration called høsttakkefest, which is the Norwegian word for Thanksgiving, but is vastly different from the US version of it.

Høsttakkefest – the unused Norwegian version of Thanksgiving

The historical origin of the høsttakkefest dates back to the 4th century, and was celebrated on September 29 every year. During this date people were supposed to thank God for their harvests by bringing food to eat at the church.

The celebration was actually pretty popular in Norway until the 18th century when it was officially removed as a public holiday. From there on out it gradually faded from popularity.

Høsttakkefest is technically still celebrated by the Norwegian church, but it is not in reality a known celebration. For instance, I did personally not know of this celebration before beginning to do research for this article, even though I am a born and raised Norwegian.

So while the church do technically still celebrate the Norwegian version of thanksgiving, most people do not. You might be able to find a church that have a celebration, but most churches celebrate it by just having a special sermon that day.

Skien Kirke
Skien Church. Photo published with permission.

Norwegian descendants often use Norwegian traditions at their thanksgiving

I have learnt from talking to Norwegian descendants that many of them use elements from Norway during their own Thanksgiving back in the United States, so it’s not that uncommon to see dishes like lefse or fenlår served at a Thanksgiving dinner in a place like Minnesota.

This is really cool, but holds no actual roots in Norwegian tradition.

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