Saturday, May 22, 2010

May 17th...Norwegian Independence Day (Norwegian Constitution Day) Syttende Mai

I was born in Germany, but my mom is from Norway and I lived there when I was 5-7 years old and went back every summer through high school. My grandparents bought the place that we lived in so we always had all our old friends there when we would come back. I love Norway. I dream of one day going back to live there for a short while so my wife and kids can fully experience what I did so many years ago. Who knows.

May 17th (syttende mai)...Norwegian Independence day or Constitution Day. (a bit like our 4th of July). This day is all about celebration. Parades in local communities filled with kids and their families from a school district wearing a very traditional outfit called bunad. The bunads are very different according to the area of the country and even the part of town you are from.

As I reflect on this day I usually begin to think of so many wonderful memories I have from my time in Norway.  I lived in Bergen, which is right on the coast of Norway (the land of the midnight sun) and it is absolutely gorgeous! We typically did four things as kids: went fishing, swam in one of the MANY lakes, played soccer or climbed Lydahorn (a mountain in walking distance from home). You can see in the picture below the view from the top. The yellow arrow points out where we lived. Stunning, isn't it?

This is a shot from my neighborhood towards Lydahorn.

Because my grandparents moved into our place we kept up with our friends over the years. There are a few that I still keep in contact with from time to time. That is one of the great things technology like the internet and twitter have opened up for me. From time to time we will get together and play cards online and chat about the old days and what could be the future days.

It's crazy the amounts of memories that are flooding my mind right now as I type this. Climbing Lydahorn we would go off the path and pick wild blueberries and drink out of the stream coming down the mountain. After making it all the way to the top we would run as fast as we could down the mountain. We were pretty young too. I can't imagine allowing my kids to walk all the way up there and back on their own, yet we did it. It was part of life. I remember walking through the woods that were so thick and moss laden that I would imagine we were in a fairytale. Suddenly we would pop out at a lake/pond and decide it was time to cool off and jump in. Being that it was Europe, we would laugh and giggle at the women who were quite comfortable with only wearing bikini bottoms.

I remember going on vacation to Voss (you can get cool bottled water from there now) with my grandparents, Bestemor og Bestefar, and staying in a cabin eating shrimp and crabs until we were sick. We had a boat that we would take out and go fishing in.  One day we were trolling (letting out a line from a spool that had 15-20 lures on it) and we kept seeing some sort of fish jumping up in the air. It was the coolest thing ever. Suddenly we would feel fish tugging at our lines. As we pulled the lines in we were pulling in a ton of these fish (horngel...not sure how to spell it, but in English it is a needlefish or gar) that looked like eels with bird beaks and sharp little teeth. They would flop all over the boat and get all the lines tangled and made a huge mess that my grandfather spent most of the day untangling.It was such a strange fish and my grandfather remembered being served it when he was a prisoner of the Nazis in WWII. He said he remembered them to not be very good. So we tossed them back in the water. When we got back to the house he read a book that said it was supposed to be a really good tasting fish. We all had a good laugh.

When the day was done we would go inside and play cards until our eyes were too heavy to stay open any longer. There was always laughter. Lots of laughter.

I guess what prompted all this was that It was syttende mai on Monday and we proudly put up our Norwegian flag to celebrate. We don't really do anything else on this day, bu I think we may start to next year. We do have a lot of Norwegian traditions added to our birthday celebrations and Christmas. That is very fun. Yes, I speak Norwegian fluently. Yes, my kids are learning it, but I am bad at keeping up with it. It is a lot of work. I need to practice it more with my kids. Time to up the ante!

Thanx walking down memory lane with me. This is one of the longer blog posts I have done. heart is

1 comment:

Wes And Nina said...

It's funny how we remember so many of the same things. Here's to hours and hours of card games through the night, and piles of shrimp that were bigger than our stomachs!

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