Inspired of all the visitors and interesting comments on my last post when I declared Advent time begun, I’ve decided to give you a bit more from our first Sunday of Advent adventure. The Christmas Fair at Norsk Folkemuseum (the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History) is Oslo’s largest pre-Christmas event. At the fair you can experience: The Open-Air Museum with historical houses decorated for Christmas according to the traditions of the buildings’ early inhabitants. Christmas market gives you 120 old fashioned stands selling handmade products, arts and crafts, Christmas ornaments, speciality foods and other holiday treats. You’ll have entertaining family programs featuring concerts, folk dancing, children’s choir, Santa’s Workshop and more. There is also Church service in the 12th century Stave Church from Gol in Hallingdal.

To get into the right mood, we started with the concert given by the famous Norwegian choir; Boys of Silver (Sølvguttene). They got their name primarily because of the shiny, silvery uniforms that were acquired in the beginning (for lack of other, more subtle materials). Later the name has been attributed to the special sound and clarity of boy’s voices, voices of silver. The choir has been an extremely popular institution in Norway, with its many performances on radio and television, in addition to concerts all over the land. The choir has toured internationally, and has frequently visited other Scandinavian and central European countries. Sølvguttene has visited USA and the former Soviet Union on several occasions. Last Sunday they gave my wife and me a wonderful Advent introduction as they song the traditional Christmas songs. All in Norwegian, but some are quite international like: ‘Silent Night’, ‘Jingle bell’ and ‘A child is born in Bethlehem’.

All pics taken with my Nokia mobile phone – please click to enlarge!

Another attraction for children (well, adults like it too:-) is the horse and carriage. I so much remember when I was there as a child how I loved to ride that and also when my own children loved to do it. This day I was laughing to myself as I debated: ‘Am I to old for this?’ I didn’t do it though, there was so much else to see and experience LOL

I mentioned the old buildings, so maybe I should give you an example. The one above is probably from the 17th century, with its very special construction and the grass on the roof. There was even a man playing an accordion to give us the right atmosphere. The weather for the time being is unusually mild with a lot of rain. Folkemuset gives what’s needed of course, as we normally have temperature below freezing and some snow this time of the year. See how well the children are dressed for outdoor activities and also how they are drawn to the fire:-) Actually, if there is something missing in Advent this year, its that we don’t have any snow:-(

I’ll end this story with some more examples of Norwegian hand craft and maybe the most Norwegian you can ever find: ‘Ostehøvel’ – the cheese slicer! It was invented and patented in 1925 by Thor Bjørklund, a carpenter from Lillehammer, Norway. Its mass production started in 1927. Cheese slicers are very common in the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland. The success of the cheese slicer in these countries is due to the fact that cheese is eaten mainly on bread and that most traditional cheese varieties in these countries are hard enough to be sliced. It’s a must tool on every breakfast, lunch or almost any table in Norway. How else could we have our piece of bread with the brown or yellow cheese? I actually hired one of Bjørklund’s grandchild on a job once, and I did not have to dig into her references that much as I know she came from a good family:-)

Please scroll down to the next post if you haven’t read all about the quality time I had with my wife at the first Sunday of Advent. I do hope by this I’ve set you into the right mood for the wonderful season to come!

40 Comments

  1. Renny, I do love natural history museums, especially the ones that feature the older exhibits.

    We don’t have snow, either, but that’s not unusual at all for us. It is cold, though. I am hoping for a white Christmas. I love snow any time, but it’s special to have snow for Christmas.

    Merry Christmas, Renny and Diane and Family! :-)

  2. OldOldLady Of The Hills

    Love the Market place with wonderful things to buy…! Renny, I actually have one of those WONDERFUL Cheese Slicers Renny…And I LOVE it! It is the Best of The Best for Hard Cheese…! I had no idea it was invented in Norway…!
    I look forward to the next four weeks of your blog, Renny

  3. barefoot_mistress

    Ooh I just love that old 17th century building with the grass roof! So awesome!
    You guys always have so much fun!

    You know Renny, it can be 15 and still no snow….it doesnt snow on the west coast near the beach, too low elevation…although, it did snow once since I’ve lived here, for about 20 minutes! Boy, was that fun! We got enough snow to make a tiny tiny snow man!

  4. oh it all sounds lovely…the market, the music, the carriage rides. and i never knew the cheese slicer was a norwegian invention. i love trivia like that.

  5. Hey, when I was a child my mother had a cheese slicer very much like those in your picture! She and my Dad were living in NYC and into Danish Modern in a big way. Maybe it was really Norwegian Modern? :-)

    I love reading your posts about Norway and being more aware of your country in general. I just bought some hand cream to keep in my purse for the winter and realized that, oh, that little Norwegian flag on the tube might be a clue that it is made in Norway? Yep. I mean Ja!

  6. I particularly enjoyed the photo of the house with grass growing on the roof. Very interesting.

    I think I would enjoy the carriage ride. We also have those downtown here in Indianapolis to ride around and see the Christmas lights.

  7. Sounds like fun! Can I came stay with you and experience it??!!

  8. We don’t have snow at Christmas here, ever! But we’re filled with the Christmas Spirit!
    I love seeing the 17th century bldg with the grass on the roof…
    :)

  9. This looks like wonderful fun. The photos are fantastic, everyone of them. Be safe:)

  10. this was so cool!! Those story of you will never appear in my life…unless i go to visit u…haha! No cold weather, no horse n carriage, no real chirstmas tree….arr…i wish im in Norway…

  11. Estupidormitorian Neil

    Christmas in the Philippines is very long, starting from ‘Ber’ (September, october…) up to the third week of January.

    We have Noche Buenas (feasts on the Christmas Eve). We have Misa de Gallo (dawn church mass). We have Parols, we have carolings, we have Ninong/ninang (godfather/mother) gift-giving, we have Belen (nativity memorabilia) on the streets.

    Of course, there’s no snow.

    Christmas is fun here even if we don’t have much money. Godfathers will give money. Hahaha.

  12. You always find exciting things to do!
    Could it be because of global warming that you don’t have snow at this time of the year?
    The gras on that old house is quite amazing.
    Enjoy advent!

  13. Hey Renny =) A cheese slicer, wow. I’m so Third World, I just use a steak knife. Happy holidays! And the queerchef pimped me =)

  14. Renny,

    Greetings from VT, USA.

    Once again, very interesting stuff here, and once again, I find remarkable similarities to Norway & Vermont.

    Cheese is king here, especially Cheddar, made on our dairy farms. The small farms are shrinking, though, as larger farms consolidate to survive the cut-throat competition (welcome to America)…and the ski industry attracts more housing development (which means the moose and deer and bear head further up the mountains). Too bad.

    Also, re, the 17th century houses. Ours are made of wood, too, but many are also made of stone that the pioneers wrenched from the soil (after they cut the thick woods down). They also built walls across their fields as they dug up stones w/ their plows.

    Ugh. Glad I was born in 1959 — central heat, hot water & a desk job. Ha ha.

    Keep writing, man. And come and visit us in America.

    Best, Bud (Awareness 101)

  15. Renny, you communicate your visit as I should have been there myself. I even can smell the old houses, the horses and the whole atmosphere.
    The Cheese slicer can be used to more than cheese. We use it on butter taken right out of the fridge, to cut cucumbers, raddish, carrots and other vegs + icecream (for decorations).
    Z U tomorrow. And remember “Rakfisken”.
    nam, nam.

  16. I had to laugh about that cheese slicer, Renny, because it has made its way all around the world, I’m sure. We can’t live without it, but now I have the interesting history of it! I see that I am attending the Christmas markets after all, even if not in person. Thanks!

  17. What a wonderful occassion, wish I could attend, best wishes, The Artist

  18. @Diane: Glad you liked it. I’m so much hoping for a white Christmas too!

    @OldOldLadyOfTheHills: Glad to know you have the proper kitchen tool too and that you now know it comes from Norway:-)

    @BarefootMistress: You have to come over at winter time then, so that we can make a big snow man together – and snow angles too!

    @Lime: So do you have the right Norwegian kitchen tool then?

    @NancyBea: Well, it’s common in Denmark and glad you like to learn more about Norway too. Hope the Norwegian cream do you good:-)

    @Lisa: The roof is very typical for Norwegian houses in older times.

    @Teena; you may come and stay any time. Will it be this Advent time??!!

    @Sue: Well, the spirit is the most important you know!

    @Grish: Thanks – be safe you too!

    @Jackson: Well, you’re welcome to visit any time and get the Christmas spirit right!

    @EstupidormitorianNeil: Thanks so much for sharing your Christmas traditions and habits too!

    @Sidney: I’m thinking it might be the global warming too – a frightening thought:-(

    @Helga: Be safe and get a cheese slicer:-)

    @DonMunro: Thanks Bud for taking your time sharing your thoughts and comments. It’s really enriches the post to read you!

    @TorAa: Yes the slicer could be useful for many things – it’s obvious you are a Norwegian!

    @Ginnie: Glad you liked the tour and am happy to slicer mystery:-)

    @GreenEarth: Thanks for the compliments!

  19. The only thing missing is snow…..

  20. Renny I just love reading this blog and comparing and discussing with my Norwegian friends. I just HAD TO buy a cheese slicer (looks almost exactly like those) when I visited cuz us Trinidadians also eat alot of bread or crackers and cheese. Nobody told me it was invented there tho! So interesting!
    I also had the opportunity to browse around a whole village of old houses with grass on the roof up at Kjerringoy, what a wonderful experience that was!

  21. Interesting post today! I always loved the horse and wagon rides in snowy Minnesota as well. It really was a special treat. That carriage looks very different and interesting!

    We had our first snowflakes in Tennessee today!

    That doesn’t look like the cheese-slicer we use at home, but I can see how it would work well!

  22. I followed your comment in my friend Terry’s “Monastic Mumblings” blog and have been enjoying your blog very much. It has a bookmark now and will be visited regularly.

    I am very impressed with the photos taken with your Nokia. My cell phone takes pictures but nothing like yours. I use a little Fuji Z1 camera.

    Thank you.

  23. A Christmas hi, sent via `The Queerchef’

  24. When I moved to norway and started using østehøvel, I refuse to use cheese knife (not unless I am eating french goat cheese or similar). It is so practical.

    Very informative post Renny!

  25. What a lovely Christmas fair. I think we have something like that here despite the raging weather. Ugh! I cant wait for snow to come.

    Anyway, have a nice weekend to you and to your family!

  26. Off topic: Hi Renny, my personal thank you for your continual thoughts and prayers for myself and my family about the recent typhoon that hit my hometown in the Philippines. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. God Bless. – K http://www.knoizki.wordpress.com

  27. Beautiful and smart blog you have, thank you for sharing all of your knowledge with us.

  28. I’m so happy to see more from your first week of Advent, Renny! The Silver Choir must be so wonderful. I hope I get to hear them someday.
    What a wonderful, Christmas atmosphere, and hopefully you have some snow on the ground there now. :-)
    Maybe next time you’ll go on the horse & carriage ride.

  29. I have never understood WHY other countries isn’t more interested in our cheese slicers than they are.

    Nice post, love the horse and carriage :-) Actually, I have taken a ride in a horse an carriage just in Norway! (Our friends have a daughter that has horses).

    The voting has opened in the Weblog Awards 2006!!! YEEEEAH! Its’ tough competition with the famous bloggers, phew!

    So I have a humble request: help me, the little ant, to fight against the big elephants in the Weblog awards 2006 by voting for Lifecruiser every day up to 15 dec and write something about my fight on your blog!

    I need all support I can get! Spread the word to everyone! ants against elephants! *lol*

    ♥ Vote every day here ♥
    (Why don’t make it to the startpage in your browser?)

  30. @Britt-Arnhild: You said it right!!!!

    @ttfootball: Glad you know about the cheese slice history now then! How great that you’ve seen that kind of houses then – their fascinating.

    @RheLynn: Thanks for your compliments. Envy you the snow! Get a Norwegian slicer!

    @TulsaGentleman: Thanks. It’s always nice to welcome a new reader and I’m glad you find it readable. My Nokia is very convenient eyes

    @TheArtist: Thanks for another visit – Christmas hi to you too!

    @AL: Glad you’ve find the slices useful too:-)

    @Charles: So you are longing for the snow too:-) A nice weekend to you too my friend!

    @fishbowl: Your welcome – that’s the least I could do and I am thinking of you. Hope things are going better my friend!

    @PrettyLady: Thanks for your compliments. It’s a givers gain you know and that’s why I love to share!

    @Lisa: Thanks for your nice compliments! Sorry but now snow yet – we are still waiting! Maybe next Advent we can take a trip in the carriage together?

    @MrsLifecruiser: Your so right about the slices – go tell the world! Woow, your been her and done that. Tell me next time so we can go together! I tried to cast my vote today but it was closed:-(

  31. Renny,

    Thank you for stopping by my blog. It gave me a chance to visit and to get to know another part of the world. I love the pictures that you have posted and everything that you have posted. I will be back for more. :-)

  32. Wow, those photos are great I wish I could attend that kind of celebration.

    Off-topic: Thanks for the visit. I’ve been seeing your comments at TorAa but shy to say hello at your end. Glad you went there first… It’s nice to meet you online Renny.

  33. Renny,
    Thank you for inviting me to read… Yes, Advent is such a big part of my Norwegian heritage and it is wonderful for you to remind me of it by sharing your pictures and your writing of all of the wonderful cultural happenings there in Oslo. I have to tell you that it has been a dream of mine to come to Norway with my children to meet up with some of my cousins that are still there. I lived in Holland for three years, and with seeing your pictures, it just awakened again my European roots and desire to live abroad.

    Christmas, CHRISTMAS, and all that there is to celebrate, the advent of hope, the birth of a King, and all of the special traditions that we celebrate can bring us together as a global community, or it can rift us apart. I am hoping that this Christmas, it will bring us more together.

    Thank you again, my fellow countryman… please greet your wife and your children… my Nashville, TN and my children… may Advent bring you closer to Christmas Eve and Christmas… with warmth in your hearts…

    With love and care,
    Ramy Bakke(-Lysaker)

  34. Hello Renny!

    wowww!How can i miss this post?
    I love the pics;the choir,the horse,the fire.the house and the cheese slicer.

    Ohh,Im starving for cheese now :)

    happy weekend,Renny!

  35. So interesting-maybe one day I can see all of this in person!

  36. My probably to be daughter in law will kill you when I tell her that the cheese knife were invented by a Norvegian ! She is dutch and very cheese ! I have red both posts and notice that at least in Germany we have the same traditions. In Belgium people have now an advent wreath but don’t know the meaning. For them it’s a nice table decoration. I found out when, why and where the Christmas tree came from. I love to read everything about other country uses ! The “wrapped” babies existed when my grandmother were a child (poor things!) and Christmas decoration had to be always handmade. Each family went almost into competition ! Today it’s still existing in schools but most of the people use “ready” decoration.

  37. MarieCecile: Your welcome and I’m glad you came to mine too and even find it interesting. Welcome back!

    @Raquel: Thanks for the compliments. I’m glad to meet you online too!

    @RamyB: Thanks for this lovely comments my fellow contywoman! I’ll pass your greeting and return the favor!

    @Ghee: Glad you didn’t miss it then:-)

    @JennyRyan: You are welcome any time!

    @Gattina: Well fact can be tough sometimes, hope she won’t stay angry long then:-) Thanks for sharing your Advent thoughts too!

  38. wow – and look at all of those fans. :) what a great post@!

  39. Your new feed gives me comments in your RSS as a new post. Just letting you know!

    • Thanks so very much Matt, for taking you’re time to let me know!!

      I’m a bit late replying as I and my blog designer Charles, has been looking into this and tried to find out what is/was, going on. So far, we have not found anything wrong in my blog’s setting so this still remains as a mystery to us.

      If any other have observed the same and have a clue of what this is about, please let me know!

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