We love to hang in Farmor’s kitchen. It’s the family’s meeting place. Not only do you get good, hearty food but great company and fond memories. When sitting in the kitchen you can’t help but notice all the things just hanging around. Farmor’s kitchen is full of gifts and mementoes from family, friends and visitors, and things of tradition and heritage. Each one adds to the story of the farm and our family. Norwegian life and culture certainly starts in the kitchen.
These are the stories of a Norwegian life hanging in March 2010:
Christmas peperkaker. Every Christmas Tante makes her famous cake to give out to family and friends and you can always find one hanging in Farmor’s house. They are meant to be eaten but as our family says: you don’t eat art. So you can often find last years peperkaker still hanging in Farmor’s house (even up until June, and if it’s lucky, the next Christmas!) Usually we find it hanging in a window but this year it was in the doorway between the kitchen and living room. Now most Norwegians are of average height so the peperkaker can hang in the doorway unbothered. But along comes a 6’7″ Moose and you can guess what happened when he walked through the door – he head-butted it! The peperkake went swinging but it didn’t break. (I wonder what Tante puts into those things to make them last so long.)
Hearts are a favourite symbol in Norway. They often decorate homes in cloths, food and hangings. Hearts are also a popular Christmas decoration to put on the tree, hang in windows and are made into cushions. Apples are another popular decorative shape, especially for Christmas. It’s quite common to see Christmas decorations hanging in the house all year round. I don’t know whether it is on purpose or they escaped the Christmas packing.
A card from family in Sweden: ‘say it with love’. A bracelet of pearls to be worn at another time and a mini pin cushion – a token gift from me two years back. It’s sweet to be added to Farmor’s kitchen.
Window candelabras are very popular in Norway. Farmor was looking for a white one but there were only black ones. (Hmmm, I wonder what I could get her for Christmas this year?) Candles are an important feature of everyday life in Norway. They dress tables and windows, door steps and pathways. Wherever a candle can be put you can usually find one. Having open flames in the house makes things more cosy and give a softer light. It’s certainly a romantic way to live.
A butterfly from a flower bouquet, wooden spice pots and hand-made gifts from a grandchild. Even though we say ‘Farmor’ and ‘Farfar’, Tante’s children say ‘Mormor’ and ‘Morfar’. This is because Moose is a son and Tante is a daughter. Naming family can get all very confusing but it makes perfect sense to a Norwegian. Farmor has many crafts and ornaments made by her grandchildren all over the house. Every time we visit there is always one more to look at. I’m amazed that Farmor hasn’t run out of walls yet.
If you don’t know what the season is in Norway just look at the curtains. Norwegians change their curtains with the seasons. Farmor has her Spring curtains up. Even though it is still snow outside we are actually in the months of Spring – being March. You can’t see Spring yet but underneath the snow Spring is working hard to make it’s grand entrance at the end of May (in Northern Norway, at least).
Actually, when the sun returns just after Christmas, there is an electricity in the air and you yearn for green pastures. It can be frustrating when you feel Spring in your bones but the snow is still around. However, Norwegians have a few tricks up their sleeves. A change in curtains is just one way they enhance the feeling of Spring in their homes. It makes a real difference having the Spring curtains up – the power of suggestion. Somehow you start to feel revitalised, energised and colourful just by looking out your window, even though it is still white outside. This way the long Winters don’t seem so long anymore.