Vidar Aarhus thought it was a local tradition. But after hearing the Salhus Church bells ring for five hours on Christmas Eve, he decided to make some telephone calls.

"I was worried that my children wouldn't be able to sleep," Aarhus said, according to the Bergens Tidende newspaper's Web site on Monday. "It was pretty late. After talking to a few friends I knew something was wrong."

Aarhus, who lives just 100 yards from Salhus Church, moved with his family to Bergen in western Norway six months ago.

The priest, Arvid Andreas Fosse, apologized to the neighbors after the bells came to a standstill.

"They're automatic," he said. "They were set for one hour, so I pressed the button to turn them off when I got back to church."