Confirmation and bunad galore

We celebrated my oldest niece’s confirmation last weekend. She is fifteen and as a Evangelical Lutheran tradition we then celebrate her becoming an adult. Her life doesn’t change much at fifteen, but traditionally this is the age from which you were considered an adult. 18 is the age where you’re legally considered and adult in Norway.

The tradition involves weekly church meeting throughout the school year, although this varies from place to place. There are also non-religious confirmations based on various secular organisations, where obviously the church is not involved. The confirmations has long traditions in Norway, and was introduced during the 16th century, during the 18th century if was made obligatory. The confirmations coincided then with the last year of school and the confirmation became a religious exam, as well as a requirement for getting an apprenticeship. Today it is a matter of getting to know your religion, becoming more reflected, growing up and also the family party.

My niece was two when I met my husband and when I met her for the first time. It has been amazing watching her grow into the young lady she has become today, and it has happened so quickly. She went from a young girl to a young lady in the blink of an eye. She is lucky to have an amazing mother who can take credit for the level of maturity in my niece. She has done a good job in emphasising my niece’s good qualities throughout her upbringing and focused on the positive in life. But my niece is much more than just the result of her upbringing, she is also very clever, she has a brilliant sense of humour, she is well-reflected and mature for her age. She is insanely beautiful and determined. I’m very proud of her and consider myself very lucky to be able to follow her further in life.

I wish to keep my family anonymous and thus leave you with pictures of some of the gorgeous bunads present on that special occasion.

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Easter in Norway

I’m a little behind on my blogging, or rather, I have things I would like to blog about that I haven’t yet got around to. But who cares if easter was over a few weeks ago? In Norway we say that yule (christmas) lasts until easter, which I think would mean that easter should last until yule again.

Easter is ‘påske’ in Norwegian. The funny letter is pronounced like the vowel in ‘bought’ or at least if you pronounce the word like the Queen of England does. Or it’s at least a very similar sound. Whatever sound you manage to produce you’ll anyway be fine, as we have such dialectal variation in this country that it would fit into one or another. The word derives from Hebrew and has obviously followed the introduction of Christianity. Before the introduction of easter, or ‘påske’, the spring equinox was celebrated, so easter has proper roots in our culture. It’s still standing strong, despite the decreasing popularity of the church.

Cabin sunset. Delightful chatter. Today påske is ideally spent in a cabin, somewhere in the mountains, where you can ski wearing less clothes than you need while skiing in the winter. You should come home with rosy cheeks, white circles around your eyes and a white line across your temple (yes, from the sunglasses). You should eat oranges, marzipan, kvikk lunsj (a chocolate-covered biscuit), lamb, and eggs, but not combined.

I spent the beginning of easter by myself in my in-laws’ house while they borrowed my family and spent some quality time at their cabin, in the woods, with no snow, but with some sunshine. I had exams due, but worked efficiently for some days in order to push school work out of my mind completely for some days and spend some lazy days in the cabin with my loved ones.

I have no idealised pictures of us out skiing with our oranges and kvikk lunsj in tow. I did get a few freckles though, but not enough to brag about here. But just to show you how perfect it all was anyhow, I’ve added the one and only photo I took during those days in the cabin. A quiet sunset by a small lake in the woods about an hour from the coast. Easter was good this year!

Norwegian television and proper piip-shows

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Norway still has an official state-run television channel, Norsk RikskringKasting, the NRK and the last years they have received much attention due to their new and creative reality shows. Please do not think of idiots locked in a house, barely-known celebrities dancing, or blood, sweat, and tears combined with alcohol and broken hearts; I said new and creative! Oh no, they give real in reality a new meaning, or proper meaning. 

NRK’s first reality show was about trains. They filmed and showed the train journey from Bergen, on the West coast of Norway, to our capital, Oslo, in the East. Every minute of the journey was broadcasted. The documentary (or reality show) can be seen here. The second show was Hurtigruta. Hurtigruta is a ferry/small cruise that travels from Bergen to Kirkenes. Covering much of Norway’s coast. The journey was broadcates live, every single minute of it, from start to finish. The show can be seen here

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Bergensbanen, minute by minute

 

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Hurtigruta, just after leaving Bergen

Following a little later was a four-hour show on knitting, see that here. Yes, we Norwegians knit. Well, I don’t. I can’t knit to save my life. I’ve learned to crochet, see here, but knitting, well, maybe after I retire. 

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Anyhow, the new thing now is birds. A proper piip-show. As birds is Norway say pip, or piip (you would write peep for the same sound). Birds here don’t tweet, instragram is more popular. A bird-feeding station is decorated to look like an Oslo coffee-house (not the dutch kind) with barstools, coffeemakers, decorations, and all. A webcam has been set up and now broadcast the birds 24/7. During this time you can also talk to ornithologists and ask them questions. The piip-show will go on for three months. And, you can see it here.

All photos are from Nrk.no

 

 

 

The United Kingdom barely exists in Norwegian

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It suddenly struck me, while preparing some work for my studies, that the United Kingdom has no proper name in Norwegian. Norwegians have a tendency to mix up the nations and kingdom, unions and islands that the British Isles consist of and I have often spent time in the classroom teaching students/pupils the differences. I have always taught in English so the differences have been explained and named in English, easily. But now I had to refer to some of it in Norwegian and that’s when I realised: the United Kingdom barely exists!

The United Kingdom, which includes England, Scotland (at least for a while longer), Wales and Northern Ireland, is referred to as ‘Storbritannia’ (Great Britain) in Norwegian, which is obviously wrong! Great Britain is, clearly, the greatest (as in largest) of the British Isles, and hence, Scotland, England and Wales. A look in a Norwegian encyclopaedia explains that the Norwegian name for the United Kingdom is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or the simple and easily pronounceable ‘Det forente kongedømmet Storbritannia og Nord-Irland’. Nobody uses it. I didn’t even knew it existed. And it is far too long. UK’ers, I apologise. There should be a short and precise name for your United Kingdom. Meanwhile, I’ll teach my English-students the differences.

Norwegian cuisine: Fastelavnsboller – exquisite sweet rolls with cream

ChatteringAnne: Norwegian tradition Fastelavn. Sweet roll recipe

Fastelavn is the three days before lent. The word derives from low-German and means the evening before lent, it also tells of Norway’s religious history and influences: lent is a Catholic tradition, while Norway is primarily Protestant, much of the tradition has been brought to the country through German influences. Lent starts seven weeks before Easter, which would be now on Wednesday. Today is the last Sunday before lent. Traditionally the days before lent were days where you could feast before the 40 days of fasting, consequently the days before lent are in Norway called ‘fleskesøndag’ (lard Sunday), ‘fleskemandag’ (Monday) and ‘feitetirsdag’ (fat Tuesday).

The Christian traditions were mixed with heathen traditions of fertility. ‘Fastelavnsris’, twigs from a birch-tree decorated with colourful feathers, are sold by a non-governmental organisation for women’s health in all supermarkets the Saturday before fastelavn. Historically the ‘ris’ was used on married, young women who had yet not born children and to fight of winter. Norwegians might have invented friendly spanking…

ChatteringAnne: Norwegian tradition Fastelavn. Sweet roll recipe Today much of this is lost. The meaning of it is not given much thought, but a combination of the earlier traditions lives on. Today is, by the man in the street, called ‘fastelavn’ or ‘bollesøndag’ (sweet-roll Sunday). The modern tradition involves exquisite sweet-rolls, the dough similar to that of the French brioche, served with cream and a sprinkle of icing sugar. And the tradition still stands strong. Last year my parents visited for ‘fastelavn’ and my mother made the rolls. Here is her recipe:

Makes 12-16 rolls:
3,5 dl whole milk
50 grams of fresh yeast
100 grams of butter
1 dl sugar
500 grams of flour
1 egg
1 t cardamom

ChatteringAnne: Norwegian tradition Fastelavn. Sweet roll recipe

Melt the butter and mix with the milk. Make sure it’s not too hot when you add the yeast. Add the egg and mix with the dry ingredients. Knead the dough and leave to rise until it has doubled in size under a plastic cover (the plastic will keep the moist from vaporising). Roll out and leave to rise while the oven heats up to about 200 degrees Celcius. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and delicious. Try and wait until the rolls are cool before you slice them in two and add whipped cream (mix the whipped cream with custard cream if you feel decadent) and serve with a sprinkle of icing sugar. Many also serve with a layer of jam (raspberry or strawberry) and a thin slice of marzipan.

ChatteringAnne: Norwegian tradition Fastelavn. Sweet roll recipe

Non-native English bloggers, linguistics and hiccups

Not having English as your native language can at times cause a few fun challenges and hiccups. I have a tendency to sometimes mix up homophones, two words that are written differently, but pronounced the same. Especially when writing a short and quick text (for instance a blog post) jeans become genes, plain becomes plane, and the list goes on. I easily spot them reading through the text, but I very rarely do, I hit post before I think, just like I speak before I think. You are most likely to come across a few here on the blog!

 

She didn't die in the spring, nor in the fall, but apparently fell down in the autumn

She didn’t die in the spring, nor in the fall, but apparently fell down in the autumn

A few years ago when I was rather new to blogging I wrote a post on a recipe of some sort including flour. Silly little me managed to swap flour with ‘flower’ resulting in a rather interesting recipe! I would just have smiled at this if it wasn’t for a ping back I got from a blog I had never visited where a girl from New York wrote a post on foreigners (non-native English speakers) blogging in English. My blog was mentioned, and linked to, along with several other blogs where both spelling and grammatical errors flourished. I was a bit hurt. I know my English isn’t perfect, and this blog is, among other things, a place for me to try and improve my language skills. So having someone comment on an error is something I hope I would appreciate, but to have it laughed at in a stranger’s blogpost left me a bit deflated.

but skip the adverbial suffixes...

but skip the adverbial suffixes…

Today I came across a blog where a post had the title ‘Fall / Høst / Tomber’. Chuckling already? Well, you know what fall means, and the British word would be ‘autumn’, ‘høst’ is the norwegian translation, while ‘tomber’ would be ‘to fall down’ in French. An easy mistake to make. Results in a wee chuckle for some of us, and I just had to share it: I found it very cute! However, I figured I had to let this completely unknown person know, but I didn’t want her to feel like I felt. I sent her an e-mail, feeling horrible trying to correct a stranger’s language. I felt my stomach tighten a bit (yes, that’s what linguistics consider a thrill!) and hoped I had stepped on any toes or hurt any feeling. Only a few minutes later she replied, thanking me dearly for letting her know. And for some odd reason that’s been on my mind for the rest of the day. A positive and good little lump of happy feeling nestled deep in my tummy, making me smile a little. Did I actually use my education for something good?

Summer dinner

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Husband, Son and my father-in-law went fishing and came back with four wee mackerels. Mother-in-law did the dirty work, and a few minutes later dinner was served.

One mackerel each. Fried in a pan with a heavy dose of butter, a spoon or two of sour cream and a good sprinkle of freshly cut parsley. Served with boiled potatoes fresh from the soil and a light cucumber salad.

The dish should be followed by rhubarb soup for desert, but unfortunately it is already out of season.