Berg is just outside of Tromsø on the mainland. It is a farming area and every year the community gets together and puts on an event for us city-goers. The Nissehelg (Elf Weekend) is now a tradition and every year we go out and brave the cold (and darkness) to visit the fjøsnisser (barn elves). This year we helped celebrate their 15 year anniversary.
The event is held over several barns and farms. Between them you can catch a two-horse sleigh or follow the fire lanterns. There are a few outdoor activities like dogsledding, pony and sleigh riding but most activities happen inside.
The first nisse we visited was the ‘grøtnisse’ (rice porridge nisse). In the barn, next to the wooden skis, sat a jolly old nisse that had obviously grown so big because of his big appitite. A good sign that his grøt would be worth the wait. There was no need to ask, as soon as we sat down a big bowl of creamy rice was plonked down in front of us.
The barn was packed with families sharing food and seats. Hay jumping was a popular activity with the kids. The kids climbed up onto a sheep deck and then ‘yahooied’ off into a big bundle of hay. Lilu just had to join in the fun (to my ‘motherly-over-protective’ dismay).
There was a letter writing room with the nisse-postie…
…with Sami grass-boots, big milking cows,
Moooo! And little rabbits.
There were lots of sheep,
one hat-eating goat,
and fast little pigs that the nisser had to catch for pats.
More fjøsnisser up to mischief!
You could go to the toilet (do) in the candy shack (godtebua). (Ah, so that’s where we get ‘doggy-do’ from!)
Even the Russian St Nic was walking around outside. He was obviously visiting… with his workout boots on.
A pit-stop in the food tent for warm waffles and hot chocolate.
The singing tent with the musical-nisse. There were so many people that we couldn’t fit. So Moose squatted down so I leant against him to take pictures. Moose was just singing along with Lilu in his arms. I was bear-hugging him from behind with my chin on Moose’s shoulder. My legs needed to stretch so I stood up and looked over to check the pram. There stood Moose with Lilu with the pram! I looked down and there was the strange man with his daughter that I had just been hugging for the last five minutes! A little embarrassed I said ‘Ooops, sorry. I thought you were my husband!’ He replied ‘Nope, I’m someone else’s husband.’ A little bewildered at why the stranger didn’t say anything when I was hugging him, I told Moose how I had given a great story to a Norwegian about a crazy Australian who came up and hugged him.
Next we followed the screams and laughter to the hay silo.
Lilu was in her element. If hay throwing was in the Olympics I think we’d have a future champion.
Because Berg is out in the sticks it gets really dark – bad for photographing dogsledding and sleigh riding but perfect for aurora watching. At home-time we got back to the car and saw the thermometre: -5 oC. Boy, the cold goes when you’re having fun.
Berg is just a 20 min bus ride to the mainland from Tromsø city, however, you will need to be a little adventurous to get there. The Nissehelg (Elf weekend) is usually at the beginning of December. It is a great chance to get a taste of dogsledding, sleigh riding, grøt eating and traditional Christmas activities alongside real Norwegian families. The Nissehelg advertise on the ‘What’s On‘ pages of the Destination Tromsø website. They also have their own website: www.nissehelg.no Make sure to wear extra warm thermals and really good boots as the temps are always below freezing and you’ll be walking on snow and ice. Also don’t wear good gear as you’ll be in barns and sitting on wood and even animals. This year the entrance fee was 60kr each plus extra for certain activities. Grøt with the grøt-nisse was free.