Happy Romjula week: A Norwegian tradition

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Have you felt it? That mixed-up, brain-fog, confusing and mystical feeling you get in the days that fall between Christmas and New Year? You had all the hustle and bustle of the weeks leading up to Christmas Day. Then, you might have gone right back to work but knew you’d be celebrating again to ring in the New Year. You might still have a few drop-in guests that are coming to your door to wish you Merry Christmas. A few gifts lingering under the tree for people you plan to see but haven’t seen yet. You feel like resting and enjoying some “down time” before you kick-start 2022. In Norwegian tradition, there’s a word for this in-between status. It’s called, “Romjula.” The English phonetic pronunciation would look like this: rom-yoo-lah.

If you search our archives here at The Hot Mess Press, you’ll find a post from long ago about hygge. Hygge is a Danish word that is pronounced “hoo-gah.” And, it’s really much more than a word — it’s a lifestyle. You can read about it, here. There are similarities between the Romjula customs of Norway and the hygge customs of Denmark. Read on to learn more about this special time between two major holidays that Norwegians consider a very relaxing yet social time!

Ramjula means “room” or “space” when translated literally

This special Norwegian custom takes place in the “space” between Christmas Day and New Year. Hence, when the people of Norway invented this in-between practice, they aptly named it “Romjula,” meaning, “room” or “space.” The following list includes some of the activities that are most common to Norwegians who celebrate Romjula, almost sometimes referred to as “Romjul”:

  • Making gift returns or exchanges
  • Shopping
  • Working on hobbies
  • Deep-cleaning around the house
  • Sending out holiday cards if you fell behind on your Christmas card list
  • Taking really long walks
  • Catch-up with friends and family you haven’t spoken to in a while
  • Whatever you want to be doing when you’re not sure what you should be doing
  • Dreaming and planning for the year ahead

Many people have to work during Ramjula, which is fine. The idea is to embrace the week rather than let it stress you out. It’s a week of pause and, yet, it’s a week of activity, as well.

Romjula continues to Epiphany

Most Christians consider Christmas a “season” rather than a “day.” In fact, the traditional “Twelve Days of Christmas” continue all the way to January 6, which is “The Feast of Epiphany.” This is the day set aside to ponder the three wise men who visited the child-King and His parents long ago. It is the day to remember that the Good News of Salvation was given to the Gentiles (all who are not Jewish). It also happens to be the day that Romjula comes to a close. Norwegians typically leave their Christmas decorations up throughout the in-between space and take them down on January 6th.

Gearing up for the New Year

The end of the year and the week in between Christmas and New Year is the perfect time to ponder. It’s a time to look back on the year we’re about to finish. It is also a good time to think ahead and make plans and set goals for the year to come. Many people create “vision boards” to help them “see” their own dreams. Some people keep their boards really simple while others are more complex and elaborate or detailed. If you’ve never heard of a vision board, you can learn more about them on this page.

The “space” in between Christmas and New Year is a special time. Give thanks for the year you have just lived and look forward with hope to the year to come. What are your hopes and dreams? Do you need or want to make some changes in your life? This week is the perfect time to write in a journal or have quiet conversations with family and friends to sort out your thoughts and make plans for 2022.

Happy Romjula!

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