Every year Norwegian brewers create Christmas beer called Juleøl especially for the festive season and to surprise beer enthusiasts with unique tastes and flavors, higher alcohol levels, and funny designs. Brewing masters take into consideration regional food preferences, so that their beer recipes complement local Christmas food. Juleøl is said to be 1500 years old, however the tradition of drinking Christmas beer is, in fact, older than Christmas itself. In the past pagans used to drink beer during the festival of Yule when they welcomed the return of the sun. The festivities took place in the darkest and coldest days of the year, just like Christmas nowdays, and the beer was then sacrificed for gods to make them return the sun. Some legends claim that there were times when every household was obliged to brew their own beer, otherwise they had to pay a fine, and whoever broke the law for three years in a row could loose their farm to the king or bishop, or they could even get expelled from the country. In present Norway every brewery makes its own Christmas beer and diligently keeps the recipes a secret. The Juleøl is available throughout November to Early January.