TagNorway

Norway news in review and look back at 2011

From the elation of the Oslo World Ski Championships to the tragedy of the Terrorist Attacks, 2011 was an dramatic year in Norway including celebrations of the explorer Amundsen’s South Pole expedition and a popular Nobel Peace Prize for woman. Of course there was a lot more happening last year, but I’ve decided to focus on that and chronologically, let’s start with the World Ski Championships and other sports achievements in 2011:
Oslo Holmenkollen Ski Jump preparing for OSL2011 #9
For two weeks in February the nation was in what Norwegians call a “lykkerus” (literally, a state of intoxicating happiness). Norwegian skiers, both men and women, brought home a phenomenal number of gold medals at the Holmenkollen sports arena, on the home turf in Oslo. Day after day there were new victories in cross-country skiing, ski jumping, relays and other events that really solidified Oslo’s claim to be the winter sports capital of the world. It didn’t take long before calls started rising for Oslo to bid for another Winter Olympics – about time since the last was in 1952. To refresh your memories, you are welcome to read my posts about the event: World Ski Championships Oslo2011 at Holmenkollen in Norway Cultural celebration at Oslo2011 World Ski Championships and Petter Northug and Marit Bjorgen in Oslo2011 WSC

Other sport achievements in 2011:
It was been another successful year in Norwegian sport – here are a few highlights:
The Women’s Handball team defeated France 32-24 just under one week before Christmas to gain the world title. It was Norway’s first World Cup win since 1999, making it a hat-trick with the European Championships last year, and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Swimmer Alexander Dale Oen beat seven others at the recent European Championships in Szczecin, Poland, winning a gold medal in the 100-metre breaststroke. He is now tipped as a favourite for next year’s London Olympics.
Thor Hushovd did not win the Tour de France this year like in 2010 but he and Edvald Boassen Hagen did Norway proud, winning a series of difficult stages across France and piling the pressure on those ranked higher. At one stage, three Norwegian competitors dominated the podium.

Norway shocked after youths slaughtered and bombing in Oslo
King Harald sent his condolences to the victims and their families, and urged unity once again in his New Years Speech for the 79 youths killed at Utøya, and the 8 killed in the bombing of the capital buildings. At a press conference on the morning after the killings Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called the attack a “national tragedy” and the worst atrocity in Norway since World War II. Stoltenberg further vowed that the attack would not hurt Norwegian democracy, and said the proper answer to the violence was “more democracy, more openness, but not naivety”. You are welcome to read my first post about this tragedy here!
In Stoltenberg’s speech at the memorial service on 24 July 2011, he opened what would be Norways reaction to the atrocity: “No one has said it better than the AUF girl who was interviewed by CNN: “If one man can show so much hate, think how much love we could show, standing together.
Photo: Morten Stokstad
Photo of Oslo City Hall square – borrowed from Morten Stokstad
I have a feeling that what was amazing the world the most after this tragedy, was the way Norwegian dealt with and handled the whole thing. Instead of showing anger and talking about revenge, we showed solidarity, love, and care for our fellow man. You are welcome to read all about it in my post: With torches and roses Oslo Norway shows its solidarity

Nobel Peace Prize from Norway to women rights activists
Nobel Peace Prize from Norway to women rights activistsKarman of Yemen, Leymah Gbowee and Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Photo: John McConnico/AP)The Norwegian Nobel Committee moved away from highly controversial choices to award this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to three women in Liberia and Yemen who the committee believes have played important roles in creating peace, reconciliation and democracy.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen were awarded the prize in three equal parts for what the committee called their “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights for full participation in peace-building work.”
I really liked the Nobel Committee’s reason: “For their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work. We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society”. Here is the link to my post about this.

Roald Amundsen Norway first to reach the South Pole
Bust of Roald AmundsenWhen the ship Fram left Norway on Aug. 9, 1910, it carried, according to Amundsen himself, “nineteen men, ninety-seven dogs, four pigs, six carrier pigeons, and one canary.” The ship was nearly 20 years old and the expedition leader, Amundsen, was 38. He was already a formidable polar explorer, but this voyage to Antarctica and the South Pole made him one of the greatest explorers in history.
Amundsen actually started preparing for an expedition to the North Pole, but when Frederick A. Cook and Robert E. Peary claimed to have reached the Pole, in 1908 and 1909, respectively, Amundsen secretly changed his plans. In Madeira he revealed that the expedition to the North Pole would go by way of the South Pole. The race was on with Robert F. Scott to see which of them would be the first man on the southernmost point on earth. Feel free to read my post about this anniversary!

Santa or Nisse and Smorgasbord food are Christmas traditions in Norway

Nisse or Santa as Christmas Decoration Traditions in Norway #2Yuletide, the return of the sun and now Christmas calls for a special celebration and brings old time traditions based on folklore and myths in Norway. After a long period of darkness and cold, no wonder people needed a break and celebrated with wild feasts the fact that “the sun was coming back”. In Oslo (latitude of 60° North) it means max 6 hours daylight with the sun only low on the horizon at midday, compared to 19 hours and hardly no dark at all at summer solstice. For thousands of years we have developed our food preservation traditions and our folk tales have over time become mixed with other European folklore, like for example Santa Claus.
All of this comes to mind when visiting my parent’s home for the Christmas day smorgasbord. The house is filled with Yuletide spirit with decorations and food traditions which have been in our family for generations. In this post, I will concentrate on the Nisse or Santa and my mom’s homemade food – illustrated with pics from last year’s family gathering on the First Christmas Day. Counting about 15 people, there is always a lot of food left, so join us, sit in and enjoy my childhood’s food feast memories:
Smorgasbord as Christmas Food Traditions in Norway #1 Smorgasbord as Christmas Food Traditions in Norway #7
Left: Ham, Pork Ribs, Tongue, Roast Beef, Lam Roll & Lever Pate – Right: Salmon & Herring
Smorgasbord as Christmas Food Traditions in Norway #6 Smorgasbord as Christmas Food Traditions in Norway #8
Left: Bread & Pork Patties – Right: Cheeses

Remember, all these (except for the cheese), are homemade with fresh meat coming directly from the butcher – made with love and care, based on recipes past on for generations! Just by thinking of it, especially when I enter my parents house this special day, I am literary taken down the memory lane – just by closing my eyes, I remember mom and grandma in the kitchen almost the entire month of December, the smell, the atmosphere, the excitement and the anticipation. There was something in the air – it was Christmas!
If you thought the food and the feast ends here, you are wrong! No, when you are filled up with pork and lamb and ham and…… and maybe had a short walk or a power nap to digest at least a bit, then the special homemade sweets were on the table:
Cookies as Christmas Traditions in Norway
To the right: All kinds of cookies and the Kransekake (Ring Cake)

The Nisse or Tomte:
Nisse or Santa as Christmas Decoration Traditions in Norway #2A Nisse is a mythical creature of Scandinavian folklore originating from Norse paganism – actually close to what we call an elf. He was believed to take care of a farmer’s home and children and protect them from misfortune, in particular at night, when the house folk were asleep – type Fjøs Nisse (Fjøs = barn). Nisse is the common name in Norwegian, Danish and the Scandinavian dialect in southernmost Sweden is Tomte and Tonttu in Finland.
The Nisse was often imagined as a small, elderly man (size varies from a few inches to about half the height of an adult man), often with a full beard; dressed in the everyday clothing of a farmer. However, there are also folktales where he is believed to be a shape-shifter able to take a shape far larger than an adult man, and other tales where the Nisse is believed to have a single, cyclopean eye. Here are some examples of Nisse from my parents home Christmas decorations:
Nisse or Santa as Christmas Decoration Traditions in Norway #5 Nisse or Santa as Christmas Decoration Traditions in Norway #6
Left: My Great Grandmother’s Nisse – Right: My Grandmother’s Nisse Family

The Fjompe Nisse:
Nisse or Santa as Christmas Decoration Traditions in Norway #3I’ve never seen him, but he has been an important part of my memories from Christmas ever since I was a child – especially in preparing, like decorating the tree and house in general. The Fjompenisse was defiantly a shape-shifter type, as he could come in (always at night) through the chimney or even the key hole. He defiantly had a temperament: One year I remember we had forgotten to take out the key from the hole and he had to use the chimney. You could then see his footprints of ash all around the house. The Fjompenisse was clearly a traditionalist too and did not want to be disturbed in his work.
Another of these things that takes me down the memory lane and brings back the Yuletide spirit from childhood when I enter my parents house, are all these Fjumpe Nisse figures hanging around:
Nisse or Santa as Christmas Decoration Traditions in Norway #1 Nisse or Santa as Christmas Decoration Traditions in Norway #4
Left: On top of the paintings – Right: On top of the old family clock from the 18Hundreds

Jule Nisse or the Santa Claus:
In the 1840s the farm’s Nisse became the bearer of Christmas presents in Denmark, and was then called Julenisse (Yule Nisse). This mythical character then turned into the white-bearded, red-capped friendly figure associated with Christmas ever since. Shortly afterwards, and obviously influenced by the emerging Father Christmas traditions as well as the new Danish tradition, a variant of the Nisse, called the Jule Nisse in Norway and Jultomte in Sweden, started bringing the Christmas presents in instead of the traditional Julbock (Yule Goat).

I hope you have enjoyed my reminiscing of my childhood and a walk down memory lane. Christmas Eve is now upon us and its time not only to remember our traditions but to give them to our own children and families. From all of us here to all of you we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Roald Amundsen Norway first to reach the South Pole

Bust of Roald AmundsenThe Polar Explorer, Discoverer, Researcher and Pioneer Amundsen from Norway became the first person to reach the South Pole on Dec. 14, 1911. Hosting a blog about Norway; our history, culture, traditions and habits, it would have been a disgrace not to mention it today – 100 years later. This year actually call for double celebration significance for Norway coincides: its 150 years since the birth of Fridtjof Nansen too! These two men played important roles as nation-builders and polar heroes and of course equally important were their contributions to science and literature, as well as Nansen’s humanitarian endeavours and his role as a diplomat and politician.

Planning for the North – going to the South Pole:
Amundsen started preparing for an expedition to the North Pole, but when both Frederick A. Cook and Robert E. Peary claimed to have reached the Pole, in 1908 and 1909, respectively, Amundsen secretly changed his plans. In Madeira he revealed that the expedition to the North Pole would go by way of the South Pole. The race was on with Robert F. Scott to see which of them would be the first man on the southernmost point on earth. Five weeks before Scott, who died on the return journey, Amundsen reached the South Pole 14 December 1911:
Roald Amundsen from Norway first to reach the South Pole
Norwegian flag planted on the South Pole (Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute)

The first to sail through the Northwest Passage:
In the summer of 1903 Amundsen sailed from Oslo with the ship Gjøa. The aim of the expedition was to find the Northwest Passage, for which the English had been searching for 400 years. Amundsen had a scientific goal: he wanted to measure the earth’s magnetic field and determine its exact location.
Winter Olympics Inukshuk from Canada in Norway #7
The ship Gjøa in front of Fram Museum

The expedition had a 23-month stopover in Gjøa Haven on King William Island. While there, Amundsen studied how the Inuit lived and gathered a prodigious amount of ethnographic material. In the spring of 1905, Gjøa sailed onward and emerged at the other end of the Northwest Passage in August 1906.

Norway marks Amundsen’s south pole feat 100 years on:
Today dozens of scientists and explorers joined the Norwegian prime minister to mark 100 years since Roald Amundsen led the first expedition to the South Pole. At the pole, PM Jens Stoltenberg paid tribute to “one of the most outstanding achievements of mankind” and highlighted the importance of this cold continent in our efforts to understand the warming of the globe! He also said Amundsen’s polar expeditions “helped to form our new national identity”. You see, Amundsen’s arrival at the pole on 14 December 1911 came only six years after Norway had declared independence after a long union with Sweden. So there is a lot of reasons to celebrate this year and especially today you know : -)

Nobel Peace Prize from Norway to women rights activists

The Peace prize 2011 awarded by the Nobel Committee in Norway was to be divided in three equal parts between Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman. This important yearly event is of course to be mentioned here since my blog is about Norway: our history, culture and traditions and also since I often talk about how Social Media empowering people. This time we’re talking about empowering women – to get a better world – and I gladly support that. This year I really liked the Nobel Committee’s reason: “For their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work. We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society”. Let’s hope it will help to bring an end to the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries, and to realize the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent.

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Karman of Yemen, Leymah Gbowee and Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Photo: John McConnico/AP)

To recognize women rights activistsa:
Karman – at 32, the first Arab woman and the youngest peace laureate ever – is a journalist and member of the Islamic party Islah. She also heads the human rights group Women Journalists without Chains. The prize is also recognized the Arab Spring movement championed by often anonymous activists from Tunisia to Syria.
Sirleaf is widely credited with helping her country emerge from an especially brutal civil war. She was elected president of Liberia in 2005 and won re-election in October this year.
Gbowee challenging Liberia’s warlords, long campaigned for the rights of women and against rape. In 2003, she led hundreds of female protesters through Monrovia to demand swift disarmament of fighters, who continued to prey on women, despite a peace deal that should have ended the 14-year civil war.

Terella 6th Anniversary gives best posts about Norway

OsloBG2010 at RennyBARennyBA’s Terella is about Norway and the Nordic countries; the significant four seasons, our culture, traditions and habits. Six years ago today I started out on a project, not having any idea how large and great this project would be. This Anniversary post will be a look back at some of the highlights + a bit facts & figures:
This post is N° 548 and there are totally 15 150 comments approved. Yearly page view rate is now about 55 000 and almost 70% comes from Google with search words like Oslo fish market or Rakfisk (a traditional Yule dish), Gaustatoppen (mountain with the longest and widest view), Liv Ullman and Aleksander Rybak. The 10 most visitor countries are US, Norway, UK, Canada, Sweden, Germany, India, Australia, Netherlands and Philippines.Enough hard facts, let’s take a look at the most popular post each year; RennyBA’s Terella Hall of Fame (click photos to read the post):

2006: Norwegian Christmas Day Smorgasbord
Christmas smorgasbord in NorwayLots of my posts, especially at Christmas time are about food, but then again it is an important part of Norwegian Yuletide. This post is about some of our old home made food traditions, with recipes passed down for many generations and I consider myself lucky having a mom who still holds on to them. My mom and grandmother did most of it in the kitchen with fresh meat coming directly from the butcher. Then of course we have the cookies – 7 varieties – and the marzipan and other types of confect. It all shows up at our First Christmas Day smorgasbord at the traditional family gathering.

2007: 17th of May – Norway’s National Day
17th of May National Day in NorwayOur constitution was signed at this day in 1814 and declared Norway an independent nation. All over Norway, children march through the local neighbourhoods with an abundance of flags and traditional costumes. Each elementary school arranges its own parade, led by the school’s own marching band. The parade takes the children through the community, often making stops at homes for senior citizens, war memorials, etc.

2008: Christmas tree and food traditions in Norway
Christmas tree at RennyBANorwegians have either a spruce or a pine tree in their living room – decorated with white lights, tinsel, Norwegian flags and other ornaments for Christmas. As a child and with my children of course, we made paper baskets of shiny, collared paper. The baskets can be filled with candy or nuts. Chains made of collared paper are also very popular.
Our celebration starts Christmas Eve at 6PM with a feast and before presents are opened, we “circle the Christmas tree”; all the family holds hands to form a ring around the tree, and walk around the tree singing carols.

2009: From frozen Paradise to hot summer beaches
Bikini beach in NorwayAfter all, my blog is about our significant four seasons and this post literary illustrating my point. It’s a story about our favourite beach and how it change from the hot summer days where you need to cool down in a dip and then to wintertime where we go skiing and skating at the very same spot. So within 6 month, you switch from snowsuits to tiny bikinis – and everything between (sometimes less *LoL*).
Around summer solstice, the sun is up from around 3:45AM to 10:45PM -19 hours in southern Norway. If you then have in mind that the sun is up only for 5 hours in mid winter and the temperature is around -10C, I guess you understand why Norwegians are crazy about taking advantage of this sunny, warm weather.

2010: The Oslo Blog Gathering
OsloBG2010 at RennyBAA dream came true – No doubt OsloBG2010 is my ultimate Social Media experience. It fulfilled my saying “Blogging Connecting People” when about 30 friends from all over the world met – in real flesh – in August in Oslo! It was a once in a life time experience and also proved another of my saying about networking like blogging: “It’s a Givers Gain”:
After sharing about Norway in general and Oslo in particular, it was a blast of a gathering when I finally could meet at least some of my regular readers and show them around at places they had read about and wanted to see by themselves! The top of the cream was when The Major of Oslo invited as all to the Town Hall and even a guided tour around in the building.
I’ve done my best to collect some of the blog posts by the participants about their stay and what they liked about Norway and Oslo. Take a look at OsloBG’s official program site and there you find the link to the participants and their reports from the gathering!

As I always say “Blogging Connecting People”: When I started this blog and first came up with that motto I had no idea how true it would be. Now I have so many good friends from all around the world, and blogging here on my Terella has brought me in touch with all of them. Thank you all for following along on my adventures and here’s to another year of blogging and connecting people!