May is almost Summer and full of Festivals in Norway

Spring time in NorwayMay is a lovely month – most Norwegians believe it’s the most beautiful: Never is the grass greener, the tulips bloom and beautiful lilacs spread their intoxicating scent. May is the month of plenty of holidays and nearly summer. It is the month to buy new shoes, summer dresses and ironing the flag. May is the month for confirmations, ice cream, summer parties and garden parties on the green lawns surrounded by flowers. It is the month to find the grill and take the year’s first swim in the ocean – the craziest of us have a tradition of swimming before May 1st, but most expect the first swim to be well into May. Anyway, while waiting for the water to get warm enough you can live it up with a blanket and basket in the park or at the beach.

Writing a blog about Norway; our history, traditions and habits, I have made plenty of posts to illustrate and explain all about this. So in this post, I have decided to sum it all up and give you it all – chronologically in a nutshell – about May traditions in Norway:

May is Norway’s own month
May Celebrations in NorwayMay means exams for many and of course we have to work a bit too. For some its graduation and then the Russ celebration is on (see below). Actually, Norway in May is the month of red, white and blue, marching bands and national anthems. We’ve got three anniversaries: 8 May is the Liberation Day 1945, 17th of May our Constitution Day 1814 and then June 7 Union Resolution (from Sweden) 1905 – everybody has his way connected with liberation. Adding to that, we have the Labour Day – of course at the 1st of May. All these days have the status of public Flag Day.

1st of May – labor day:
1st of May in NorwayEvery year different Unions or local chapters of the Federation in Norway arrange the 1st of May parade. Labor Day was first celebrated in Norway in 1890. Since 1947, 1st May has been a public holiday. In most places in Norway, like in Oslo, the host for the demonstration parade is LO (The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions); decidedly the largest and most influential workers’ organization. It all starts with speaches at Youngstorget (The Labor Square).
You might like to read about one of my 1st of May experience meeting our prime minister some years ago by clicking here!

8 May – Liberation Day 1945:
8 May 1945, Germany surrendered unconditionally and the Second World War ended in Europe. Norway was again a free country and never has there been such a party. The freedom party that started on May 8 lasted a whole month and reached its peak by King Haakon’s return to Oslo on June 7.

May 17th – National or Constitutional Day
17th Of May in Norway17th of May is Norway’s national day. Across the country there are parades with school children -celebrating signing of the Norwegian Constitution at Eidsvoll in 1814 – with flags, bunad (national clothing), marching bands, ice cream and is one of this country’s happiest days.
Our famous writer Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson was also a pioneer when it came 17th. In 1870 he organized the first children’s parade in Christiania it went from Akershus Fortress past Parliament and ended up at the Royal Castle. The parade consisted of approximately 1,200 boys and in 1889 also the girls were in the parade. The idea of the parade belonged to the school principal P. Quam who in 1869 conducted a parade of children from their school. Since 17 May 1906, the Norwegian royal family has stood on the palace balcony and greeted Oslo schools’ pupils, except in 1910 when King Edward VIII, Queen Maud’s father, was buried, and during the war years 1940-1945. Reed all about these tradition and celebrations on my posts by clicking here!

The revelling Norwegian Russ in May:
Russ in NorwayThe tradition goes back to the 1700s, at a time when no universities existed in Norway, and Norwegians would attend the University of Copenhagen to study alongside Danish students. To be enrolled at the university, students had to pass the Examine Artium.
The modern Norwegian russ tradition dates back to 1905, when the red russ caps were introduced. The caps were initially only used by boys, and were inspired by German students, who in 1904 wore red caps when they visited Norway. In 1916, blue caps were introduced at the Oslo Handelsgymnasium, a high school specializing in economics.
In the russ vehicle, modern tradition requires an expensive stereo both on the roof and inside the vehicle (the largest systems allowed can have forty speakers which can generate over sixty thousand watts), bus sweaters, bus lighters/key strings, bus caps and a bus song.
Read all about this russ traditions by clicking here!

Outdoor Easter Bunny Eggs Hunt

Outdoors Easter Bunny Egg Hunt #C2Our family tradition, hunting for Easter Bunny Eggs, is one of my dearest and may be one of the best examples of recreational outdoor activity in the Norwegian woods. Every year the feeling of anticipation and excitement takes me down the memory lane. You may say I’m a bit childish, but I’m just fine with that and it’s important to get into the right spirit – and of course: you have to love being outdoors too.
The Easter Egg and Bunny or Hare thing dates back to pagan times and is more about fertility and a celebration of spring than recent Christian Easter traditions. Honored in many rite-of-Spring festivals, during the span of history, eggs represented mystery, magic, medicine, food and omen. So it represented the rebirth of the earth – the long, hard winter was over – the earth burst forth and was reborn just as the egg miraculously burst forth with life.

But lets get back to the outdoors hunt and you are welcome to join us around the bonfire as I go on with the story and show some photos:
Outdoors Easter Bunny Egg Hunt #1
Of shore, resting after the Egg hunt at the bonfire.

The hunting is of course the most exciting part and you may wonder how the eggs get there and how we find them. Well, when I was young my dad did it – but since this is something of important passing on to generations: nowadays my sister and I walk a bit ahead, to see if we can find some bunny footprints.
Outdoors Easter Bunny Egg Hunt #4
When we were children, my parents told me they did, so then it had to be true, and it has never been questioned in the family. It’s just the same as Santa brings the gifts of course. People who don’t believe in this have missed out on something important from their childhood I think.
Also I hope you see why this should be an outdoor activity: You have to find the eggs in the Bunny’s natural surroundings! And tell me; what can be more recreational than sitting around a bonfire, smelling spring is in the air, listening to the sounds of birds and eating hotdogs grilled on the bonfire:
Outdoors Easter Bunny Egg Hunt #2

So now I hope you understand the excitement in my Easter anticipation and why it’s so important to me to hold on to this childish, family tradition of believing it is the Easter Bunny who laid the eggs. To sum it up in one collage photo:
Outdoors Easter Bunny Egg Hunt #C1

So here it is – from me to you: A new Easter Egg hunt family tradition for free!

Hunting Easter Bunny Eggs outdoors in Norway

Hunting Easter Bunny Eggs outdoors in Norway #3The history of Easter Egg Hunting is linked to Pagan traditions, has nothing to do with Christianity, but is a beloved event for kids everywhere. In my family it’s for kids of all ages as we’ve done it since I a little boy and still do it – outdoors of course – so it’s also a way to greeting the spring, when winter is retiring and nature is coming out of hibernation. Spring means new life, and in Norway of course literary to be seen when the snow and ice are melting. There you also have the connection to rabbits or hare which have long been a symbol of spring and fertility. Since there will be no Easter Egg Hunt without the Bunny, we must first look at why rabbits are associated with Easter: Known for their prolific procreating, they were the sacred animal of the Saxon goddess of spring and fertility.
Before I reveal how a rabbit laid an egg, let me show and tell you how we do the outdoors hunting in my family. Since we do this every year and I have posted about it before of course, I have plenty of photos from this adventure, and here I’ve put them together to give you an overview:
Hunting Easter Bunny Eggs outdoors in Norway #2
Outdoor recreation goes with my family – especially in weekends and holidays. At Easter every year, the feeling of anticipation and excitement takes me down the memory lane. You may say I’m a bit childish, but I’m just fine with that and it’s important to get in the right spirit – and of course: you have to love being outdoors – sometimes the snow hasn’t even melted yet and then it’s even more cozy to lite the bonfire and grill hotdogs on a stick:
Hunting Easter Bunny Eggs outdoors in Norway #1
Beside the thrill of the Easter egg hunt, this is also about enjoying spring – outdoors – after a dark and cold season. Since settlement of mankind in Norway, thousands of years back, we take advantage of, are celebrating and enjoying the feeling of spring – a significant change in seasons – and therefore an important part of our rituals and habits.
I also once made a movee or a vid about this adventure – be inspired:

The Easter Bunny legend, I’ve heard, started long ago in Germany with an egg-laying hare named “Osterhase”. German children made nests and left them outside for the hare to lay her eggs in. So in America, it was German immigrants who brought their Osterhase tradition to Pennsylvania in the 1700s. The festivity soon spread across the nation, and baskets replaced nests. Eventually, the game evolved into a treasure hunt, and the prizes expanded from just hard-boiled eggs to include chocolate, candy, toys and coins. In many families, the Easter Bunny leaves a basket filled with gifts, while in Norway we have large hallow eggs filled with treats instead.

We are soon on our way to my home town to meet my parents and sisters family for this adventurous tradition. When I post this in advance again this year, it is to give you all the chance to have fun the same way. Have you tried? Or would you like too? If so, here are some of my posts from earlier years:

* Traditional Easter Bunny Egg hunt in Norwegian woods
* Spring Equinox and an Easter Egg hunt
* Hunting Easter Bunny Eggs in snow
* Easter Bunny Eggs Hunt in Norwegian Woods

Hot air balloon and civil aviation in Norway

Hot air balloon in Norway #1The oldest successful human-carrying flight technology is the hot air balloon and the first Norwegian to fly a balloon was Ole Hegre in 1879. However on November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first undeterred manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes in a balloon created on December 14, 1782 by the Montgolfier brothers. Hot air balloons that can be propelled through the air rather than just being pushed along by the wind are known as airships or, more specifically, thermal airships.
Some may wonder why I am posting about hot air balloons now: Well, after all, this blog is about my daily life and while we were at my parent’s to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary last weekend we had a surprising sight right outside of the window:

Balloon in my hometown Porsgrunn:
Hot air balloon in Norway #2
I thought it was cool and ran out with my mobile phone to capture the moment to share with you:
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From an article in the local newspaper: Friends from a neighboring town took this southward bound air trip when the wind came a few extra knots from the east – the balloon was heading for a landfill – however the experienced balloon operator re-navigated to make a landing in more secure surroundings. Although it looks like the big balloon loses air, everything went as it should. “It was a soft landing and we have no holes in the balloon, just lots of fresh air in the lungs, they said” : -)
Hot air balloon in Norway #5 Hot air balloon in Norway #8

Timeline of civil aviation Norway:
November 1870: The two French balloon aviators Paul Valery Roliér and Leonard Jules François Bezier arrived after a 15-hour flight from Paris at a mountain in Telemark. They had departed from Paris the day before for what was to be a simple flight out of the besieged city. Their trip would fly them 1,300 km away from Paris. They bailed out at Telemark , while the balloon was taken by the wind all the way to Oslo where they were given a hero’s welcome. The basket of the balloon now hangs in the Norwegian Technical Museum in Oslo.
1879: The Norwegian Ole Hegre made a flight with Montegolfier hot air balloon during the World Exhibition in Paris. Like I mentioned earlier: he thus became the first registered Norwegian to have made a flight.

I have of course seen hot air balloons before, but I admit I have never seen one landing at breakfast time in our neighborhood before. Thankfully the people of Porsgrunn are friendly and always happy to help a neighbor out of a pinch, even when they come in a basket *LoL*

Blogger in the Silent City Mdina in Malta

The Silent City Mdina in Malta #9Called Melite, Mdina earlier was the capital of Malta and has its present name from the Arab influence on the region. Mdina means ‘walled city‘ and is called ‘The Silent City’ by the locals because with few inhabitants and almost no vehicle it is totally silent after dark. It’s a very small town with a population of less than 300.
With many new knights and masters ruling through the ages the town faced many political ups and downs over time. The fortifications constructed by the Arabs, then by the Romans and finally by the Knights of St. John in the 1500s. They divided the town into two parts, one lying inside the wall and the other outside, developed into the town of Rabat. The town lost its importance during the reign of the knights of St. John and the Malta’s capital was shifted from Mdina to Bigru which could better guard the Great Harbour of Malta from invasion.

On a business trip to Mata, bringing my dear wife along, we had a guided tour in this historical place and we gladly take you along to this medieval walled city located on a hill lying on the South Western coast of Malta. Let’s start with the breathtaking view from the wall inside and panoramic photo of the Maltese countryside, taken with my Nokia N8, a view towards part of the town of Rabat:
The Silent City Mdina in Malta #11
Then we turn around and concentrate on The Walled City, and announcing: the location on the top of a hill captivates tourists to Mdina’s mesmerizing beauty, while the medieval era culture and atmosphere takes you back in time away from all modernism and mechanism:
The Silent City Mdina in Malta #3 The Silent City Mdina in Malta #4
The medieval age alleys and narrow streets running down add to the dramatic touch of Mdina. These were intentionally narrow so that in the event of an attack they were difficult to negotiate on horseback giving the locals time to hide. Today these narrow alles and limestone walls reflects the true Maltese charm and tradition with minimum impact from the Knights:
The Silent City Mdina in Malta #1 The Silent City Mdina in Malta #2
The city is well maintained and kept clean by the locals:
The Silent City Mdina in Malta #5
The locals getting ready for the Good Friday procession. This is a typical band which leads the procession with the local icons on display and carried through the town.

Museum of Natural History:
By the Vilhena Palace, St Publius Square, you’ll find the large baroque Magisterial Palace. It was built by Grand Master Vilhena in 1724 and converted into a hospital during the British rule. This houses the natural history museum which holds exhibits on Malta’s geological formation over 10,000 rocks and minerals, a vast collection of Maltese flora and fauna, as well as local and exotic shells and insects. Our guide told us there is also a reference library on natural sciences for enthusiasts, but we only had the time to admire the beauty from the outside:
The Silent City Mdina in Malta #6

St. Paul’s Cathedral:
Ancient Baroque architecture is the main attraction of this place. St. Paul’s Cathedral designed by the architect Lorenzo Gafa leads them all. It displays minute detailing by the master designer. The dome, the bell towers and other structures are very lovely designed:
The Silent City Mdina in Malta #8
The interior of the cathedral features Irish wood carvings and lavish tessellated floorings. The cathedral is a house of precious paintings, sculptors and baptistery. This is a must visit stunning example of Baroque art and architecture.

Today Mdina is a major tourist attraction recognized internationally as an important UNESCO heritage site. We were certainly charmed by the well maintained medieval feel of these historical – yet still living – grounds. Even more; the whole Malta took us by storm, so there is a lot more to tell about our adventures on theses exotic islands – stay tuned for more local culture and romance !! ; -)