For members


Norwegian word of the day: Marsipan gris

Read on to find out why a pig that tastes of almonds is often found on Christmas tables in Norway.

Norwegian word of the day: Marsipan gris
Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know this word? 

Norwegian traditions and celebrations around this time of year are packed with both charm, fatty meat, and confusing words for foreigners. Case in point – marsipan gris.

What does it mean? 

A marsipan gris, or marzipan pig, is just that: a pig figurine made out of marzipan. The confectionary animal is popularly used as a prize given to the winner of Christmas games at holiday gatherings. 

Perhaps the most popular Christmas game this almondy tasting pig is linked to is the Riskrem challenge. Riskrem or “rice porridge” is a creamy dessert served cold with a fruit-based coulis drizzled on top. A shaved almond is often hidden in the serving bowl filled with riskrem. And whoever discovers the almond in their bowl receives a traditional pig made out of marzipan as their prize.  

Wanting to purchase a marispan gris for yourself or as a gift? No problem. They shouldn’t be too hard to find. Marzipan pigs pop up in various sizes in many food, confectionery, and specialty shops throughout Norway during the holiday season. 

The history behind the pig

Marzipan is a paste made of almond, milk, and sugar and is a very popular sweet to consume around Christmas time. In Norway, more than 10 million marzipan pigs are consumed annually. In fact, the taste of marzipan may evoke even more holiday nostalgia than pepperkake, or “gingerbread” for many Norwegians. It is traditional to make figurines – including the famous pig – at home out of marzipan. Or you can choose to purchase one. But why a pig? Back in the medieval times, farmers who had a lot of pigs were considered lucky. Today, if you are given a marzipan pig, it means you are lucky. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Norwegian word of the day: Tropenatt 

If it’s been hot and humid throughout the day, then the chances are that a ‘tropenatt’ will follow, making it hard to fall asleep. 

Norwegian word of the day: Tropenatt 

What does it mean? 

Tropenatt means “tropical night” in English. It is formed by compounding the words for tropical and night. 

Given that Norway is a country perhaps more famous for its cold winters than warm weather, you may find it surprising that the language has a word for sweltering evenings. 

A tropenatt is an evening where the temperature doesn’t drop below 20C between 8pm and 8am. Apparently, tropical nights are the most common along the Oslo Fjord. The reason for this is that high sea temperatures in the area contribute to the frequency of tropical nights. 

Why do I need to know this? 

Seeing as the winters in Norway are so cold, homes in the country are designed to hold heat as much as possible. Therefore, if you see a tropenatt mentioned by anyone or in the forecast, you can probably expect an uncomfortable night’s sleep. 

However, if you’ve adopted a few Norwegian habits or home design cues, you may be prepared to combat warm sticky nights. 

This is because Norwegians (and Scandinavians as a whole) will sleep with two single duvets rather than one double one. 

This helps one deal with a tropical night as single duvets allow people to regulate their temperature better when they sleep. Poor temperature regulation and struggles with a large shared duvet contribute to a worse night’s sleep, according to experts.

Use it like this: 

Det er kjempevarmt i dag, og ifølge værmeldingen skal de bli tropenatt I natt også. 

(It’s super hot today, and according to the weather forecast, it’s meant to be a tropical night tonight too.)

 Jeg var så varm i natt. Det var 30 grader og tropenatt. 

(I was so hot last night. It was 30 degrees and a tropical night.)