Black Friday Whaaa?

black-friday-sale There is a first for everything, and today it was a Black Friday sale at our local toy store with a promise of a vanvittige tilbud (insane sale). The Black Friday sale is seen as an American thing, but just like Halloween and Valentines, Black Friday has finally hit the stores in Norway.  The 'insane deal' they are offering is just a 'buy two, get one free' (I'm guessing the bargin part of Black Friday sales was lost in translation). It is a little disappointing to see this alien tradition start up in Norway.  There isn't even a Norwegian translation for 'Black Friday'.  There likely won't be; it will be left as another reminder of how another American tradition has immigrated to Norway.          

A Christmas Tree Gift for the United Kingdom


Every year Norway sends over a giant Norwegian spruce Christmas tree to their British friends. It is a symbol of Norwegian gratitude towards the United Kingdom for preserving Norwegian liberty. During the Second World War, King Haakon VII escaped to England as the Germans invaded Norway in 1940. This enabled the King to sustain the Norwegian government. The government headquarters was set up in London where the war news was broadcasted in Norwegian, along with messages and information that was vital to the resistance movement in Norway and gave the people hope and inspiration.

The Christmas tree is chosen with great care, usually many years before it is to be used. The foresters provide a lot of care for the tree, making sure it grows big and tall.  They often describe the tree as the 'Queen of the Forest'.  After the tree has been carefully chopped and prepared, it makes its journey across the pond on a big barge and is eventually set in the middle of Trafalga Square.

A special Lighting of the Tree ceromony is held at the beginning of December. About 10,000 Londoners gather in Trafalga Square to participate in Christmas carols and to see the tree being lit. A nativity scene is placed on the west side of the square, which is dedicated at a special service on the Sunday after the lighting ceremony.

Throughout the Christmas Season Londoners visit Trafalgar Square to participate in the celebrations, sing carols and donate to charities.

Norwegian Christmas trees are also given to the cities of Coventry, Newcastle, Sunderland and Edinburgh, and also the Orkney Islands.

What Do You Do with a Basketball Court in the Arctic Winter..?

snow-park-3 ...Turn it into a mini ski park, of course! snow-park-2 The sun won't make it over the horizon again until the end of January next year.  Even though we have no sun, we can still see the light peeping up over the earth, and with the snow bouncing all the light around, our days can still be pretty light (for an hour or so).  This is the blue light season, and in it, all sorts of white fluffy fun is to be had! During the darkness, play parks are lit to invite the neighborhood kids out to play.  Soccer fields and basketball courts are turned into whatever the kids can make.  In our backyard, the kids make a ski park.  We have a perfect downhill skiing hill where the kids have made jumps and slides to practice their tricks for the bigger ski slopes at registered hills.  They have been hoarding left over building parts from the new houses in the area since the summer (keeping it in the forest just above), just waiting for the time when there is enough snow.  Now that the snow is here, the kids spend all their time outside sculpting their masterpieces to get the most height and flavour out of their freestyle skiing.  No point bringing their gear inside, they spend more time on the park than anywhere else. The play park across the road is generally turned into a sledding hill.  Some spaces are turned into forts or caves, and the school sports oval is turned into one big ice skating rink. There is always plenty of fun to be had in the snow.  Playtime was never so cool! snow-park-1

Lapskaus with Salty Pork

lapskaus-with-ham-1 Lapskaus is a Norwegian vegetable-based soup.  Home-grown starchy Norwegian potatoes are what make this dish 'creamy' as they disintegrate, naturally thickening the soup.  No flour is needed.  There are many different types of lapskaus, each region seems to have its own traditional version, but the most common every-day lapskaus is made with winter vegetables and salty pork off the bone. lapskaus-with-ham-5 The salty pork is warmed in water for about two hours to cook it and draw some of the salt out.  This process softens it and loosens it up off the bone.  After that the skin can be stripped off easily and the meat can be carved off. lapskaus-with-ham-4 lapskaus-with-ham-3 The pork pieces are added to a pot of diced winter vegetables.  Anything goes but swede, carrots, potatoes are the base and the other usual additions are celery, leek, bay leaf and pepper.  We add anything else we have laying around in the fridge - pumpkin, sweet potato, onion, and this time broccoli and peas.  The pot is filled with water to about half way up the ingredients.  (Some Norwegians use the cooking water from the pork.) lapskaus-with-ham-2 Let the pot simmer until the starchy vegetables have disintegrated and thickens the soup.  It takes about an hour.  Add in more water if you need to.  If you want the soup thicker, remove the lid near the end of cooking.  The soup is traditionally served with flatbread. flatbread-2 Read more about different types of lapskaus. Our own Pumpkin and Apple lapskaus!

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