Happy New Year with Fireworks and Seafood

Happy New Year 2014 from NorwayCelebrating the New Year’s Eve in Scandinavia is traditionally a blast of a feast. No wonder as it is the darkest and often the coldest time of the year and since ten thousand years back there was a good reason to celebrate the return of the sun – Winter Solstice festivals is a part of it of course. All this sets the scene for enthusiasm and cheer and welcoming a new year.

Preparing the evening’s celebration starts days before and the most exciting part is buying the fireworks. Shooting up your own is much more fun and you’re welcome to read the story in my last post: Buy and shoot up your own New Years Fireworks. Then of course shopping what’s needed for our traditional seafood dinner; Shrimp, lobster (and sometimes crawfish) served with champagne. You’re all welcome to join us shopping and then sit in and enjoy the firework show this year – all included in this video:

Actually, this is one of the habits and seasonal traditions I’ve posted the most about on this blog, so let me share some of the others by reposting some of the pics in the video with link to these posts:
Snowy Winter Day in Norway #3 The Magic of extreme cold and snow at Oslo Fjord #1

From all of me to All of You: Godt Nytt År!

Urban nature at Ekeberg Sculpture Park in Oslo

Urban Nature - Ekeberg Sculpture Park #10Ekebergparken can offer installations by international artists, as well as museums, restaurants and a panoramic view of the city. Scattered across 65 acres on a small mountain across the Oslo Fjord from the city, the Sculpture Park includes works by artists that range from Renoir, Botero and Salvador Dalí to Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer and Dan Graham. There are a handful of site-specific works already installed, including a Sky Space by James Turrell, his northernmost to date, which the American artist built into a hillside beneath a newly artificial lake.
We’ve had the loveliest sunny weather this weekend and my wife and I have had some quality time while enjoying the colourful fall scenery on our photo hunt. You’re welcome to join us and enjoy some of the shots – let’s start with a panoramic view of Oslo from this hill area:
Urban Nature - Ekeberg Sculpture Park #01 Urban Nature - Ekeberg Sculpture Park #03
A view of Oslo, the capital of Norway from the hills of Ekebergparken

The hilly area is about the same size as Oslo’s other famous park, Vigelandsparken (The Vigeland Sculpture Park), and is inspired by similar international facilities, such as Louisiana outside Copenhagen, Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands, and Storm King Sculpture Park outside New York.

The collection of sculptures and installations on display in the park was put together by a committee of experts, with the feminine as an initial theme. Let me give you some examples from our photo hunt:
Urban Nature - Ekeberg Sculpture Park #11 Urban Nature - Ekeberg Sculpture Park #07
Left: – “Mother and Child” by Per Ung – Right: “Venus De Milo Aux Tiroirs” by Salvador Dali
Urban Nature - Ekeberg Sculpture Park #06 Urban Nature - Ekeberg Sculpture Park #13
Left: “Venus Victrix” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1914-1916 – Right: “Marilyn” by Richard Hudson

From dilapidated to attraction:
For those for whose impressions of Norway are limited to gravlax, skiing and Edvard Munch, Oslo’s vibrant contemporary art scene, which has been garnering international buzz lately, may still come as some surprise. The latest chapter in the Norwegian capital’s development is this ambitious new Sculpture Park – the passion project of Christian Ringnes, a local real estate tycoon who bought the adjacent Ekeberg Restaurant and donated tens of millions to create a sculpture park. In 2005 he refurbished and reopened Ekeberg-restauranten (the Ekeberg Restaurant), the area’s prime eatery.

The Urban Nature:
The hill area was converted to a park as early as the end of the 19th century, but was left to deteriorate until this property investor on a walk through the park was struck by how neglected and unused it was. I’m happy to report however, that it’s still plenty of room for a quality time in these recreational surroundings:
Urban Nature - Ekeberg Sculpture Park #19 Urban Nature - Ekeberg Sculpture Park #20
– just 10 min from the centre of Oslo – I would say Recreational!

The natural beauty of the park is still part of the attraction and young and old were out enjoying the fall colours. Some of the statues are playfully hidden on the side trails so you have to go looking like a treasure hunt. There is also a nice dog park where both dogs and their people enjoy socialising in the sunny weather.
Urban Nature - Ekeberg Sculpture Park #17 Urban Nature - Ekeberg Sculpture Park #21
Left: An untitled sculpture by Dan Graham – Right: More urban nature : -)

Above you see an unusual sculpture by Dan Graham, and as you can see the viewer becomes a part of the art itself. I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did and if you ever get to Oslo don’t miss this experience – just ten minutes by bus or tram from Oslo center.

17th of May National or Constitution Day in Norway

17th Of May in Norway17th of May, Norway’s National and Constitution Day (signed in 1814), is celebrated as the most Norwegian there is. Nationalism, patriotism and childlike enthusiasm are shown, as we celebrate our freedom (after the occupation during World War 2 and 100 years of union with Sweden) and of course the signing of our Constitution.
Adding to that, for a nation located at The Arctic Circle – after a long, dark and cold winter – we are celebrating spring! Special also, and we are damn proud of it: The children are in the center of the activities and the parades are free of military presence of any sort.

I’ve posted about this big event in Norway a lot of time. I mean – this blog is after all a place to find interesting stuff about our culture, traditions and habits – and what’s more Norwegian than 17th of May? Here are some examples:
May 17 in Norway celebrating National and Constitutional Day
17th of May – Norway’s National Day in Oslo
17th of May Parade in Norway
17th of May Norway’s Constitution Day in Oslo
17th of May Constitution or National day in Norway

I wonder: How do you celbrate the constitutional day in you’re country – or have you been in Norway at the 17th of May – for a comparison? Please share in comments!

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!

Cool winter beach best place to chill

Cool winter beach best place to chill #1All four seasons have their charm and their significant change in Norway makes them even more fascinating. One place to experience the differences during the year is the beach: Hot and inviting to swimming in the water in the summer time – crisp, fresh air and inviting to skiing or skating in the winter time – as well as the golden beauty of fall and the nature waking up from hibernation in spring time. You can’t have it all at one time, but since I have been living for a while and been blogging over the years about the four seasons has made me even more aware and fascinated by this phenomena.
When my wife and I take a long weekend at our vacation home in Sweden, we often go to the beach at sunset for a photo hunt. I gladly take you along and when thinking of sharing it with you, I came up with the idea for the title of this post:

Cool winter beach best place to chill”:
Cool winter beach best place to chill #2 Cool winter beach best place to chill #3
Let me show you what I mean about the significance change in the seasons with a couple of pics from the same beach at the summer time (click the pics to bigify and enjoy!):
Hot Scandinavian Beach #2 Hot Scandinavian Beach #3
Like I said, the golden beauty of nature is proven in the fall and of course I have a couple of pics from the same beach illustrating – or what do you think?:
Fall at Lake Vänern in Sweden #2 Fall at Lake Vänern in Sweden #1
To sum it up, I made a collage with photos from the Cool beach best place to chill:
Cool winter beach best place to chill #A

I hope you all can understand why I feel lucky to be able to experience all four seasons, enjoying the beauty of the nature in each one. Outdoor recreation for me is the best way to get in contact with the world around me and recharge my batteries. What about you?