Sled Rack

sled-rack

 

The secret life of a bike rack.  When summer is at a close a bike rack has nowhere else to go but serve as a rack for sleds!

Building a Snow Cave

building-snowcave

Usually you build snow caves on the side of hills or in snow drifts (created by the wind blowing the snow, which makes it hard but not icy).  We had another idea – build our own!  Every Sunday over the last month we have had a mini snow storm.  And every Sunday we have got out the snow shovels to pile up the snow into a small mountain in the front yard.  We initially did this for just pure exercise – moving snow around the yard is great for building upper-body strength.  Last Sunday we realised we had enough mountain to make a snow cave.

building-snow-cave-2

Digging is out was very easy as every week the snow had compacted on top of itself making for an excellent snow-digging cave.  All you need is a shovel and ‘Stig’s your uncle’.  It wasn’t long before we reached the other side.

snow-cave-and-house

snow-cave-hole

It was a little squishy but from that point it was a piece of cake to carve out a bigger hole.

snow-cave-fun

Snow-caving was a fun activity for the afternoon.  The snow even tasted good.

snow-cave-blue

Preparing the House for Advent

christmas-TVroom2013

Advent in Norway is the time to prepare for Christmas.  It starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas day, just after the last sunrise in the North.  At this time Norwegians bring out their lights to hang in the windows for the dark season.  Some lights are small triangle lamps that hang down, or large paper stars (below), others are five or seven stick candelabras that sit on the sill.  We quite like our snow stars, a new addition for our home this year (above).

The lovely and decadent things start appearing in the stores in November for Advent.  Purple is the colour of the season and it is usual for Norwegians to dress their homes with purple things – curtains, tablecloths and cushions.  Silver, gold and white always accompany the dressing of a house.

advent-calendar-2013

With only a week left until Advent starts, we have already put up the kid’s Advent calendars.  There are many types of Advent calendars but we have the most typical ones – wall hangers with pockets.  They aren’t filled yet as this year is taking longer than normal to find little cheap surprises.  We have decided not to give our kids sweets or chocolates as presents, so have had to extend our small gift search.  It is tricky to find cheap gifts in Norway.  On average we spend kr30 on each item (about US$6).  Traditionally, calendars were filled with baked goods and hand-made crafts.  Today some of the most common non-food calendar gifts are pens, matchbox cars, bubbles, trolls, chap sticks, jewelry, ornaments, lego figures and cookie cutters.

advent-2013

Advent season is traditionally celebrated with candles.  It is normal to have a few candle settings in different places in the house.  Our dining table setting is a four stick circular candelabra.  We place it inside a wreath that is decorated with tinsel, ornaments and pinecones.  We also have another candelabra, a row setting made of cast iron, in the TV-room.  Some Norwegians have extra settings in windows or a welcome set in the entry hall.  We light the first candle on Advent Sunday, two candles on the second Sunday, and so forth.  Some Norwegians use just one candle and burn it down to a marker on each Sunday.

advent-candles-2013

advent-candle-base

Advent Sunday marks the start of the Christmas concert season.  A lot of towns have their first Christmas concerts on this day.  Christmas concerts can happen as late as the 1st of January (because remember that the first day of Christmas in Norway starts on the 25th of December.  Traditionally Christmas lasts for 20 days (song) after, ending on the 13th of January.)

Advent Sunday is also the traditional day for Lighting the Christmas tree (video) in the town square.  This is a big event in many cities around the country as the community celebrates together the coming of Christmas.

If You’ve Ever Thought of Traveling to Norway, Next May is the Time to Do It!

oslo-national-day

The 17th of May is Norway’s National Day where Norwegians celebrate the signing of their constitution in 1814.  Next year will be the 200th anniversary.  If you are looking for the best time to come to Norway, to experience Norwegian culture and heritage, and participate in Norway’s most important event, next year in May would be it.  There is sure to be a grand celebration as Norway reflects upon, as well as looks to the future, of being a country dedicated to peace and equality.

1896---national---day

Oslo would be the ultimate place to join in the festivities as it is the capital of Norway.  It is tradition for the 17th of May parade to pass through the main city street, up to the palace and to march past the Royal Family.  There will be special dinners at the Akershus fortress over the fjord, church and civil ceremonies, concerts in different parks around the city, traditional Norwegian folk dancing in the streets, military gun drill displays, not to mention an explosion of Norwegian foods and crafts.

oslo-17may.jpg

There are six months for you to start preparing for your trip.  Go to www.visitnorway.com to get the low-down on the activities closer to May so you can maximize your Norwegian experience.  We sure hope you take this opportunity to experience Norway during such a momentous National celebration.

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