Day 17: Norwegian Culture

One of the days I learned the most was this one.  I got to go to one of Ninna’s family parties to celebrate her cousin’s Konfirmasjon (aka Confirmation), and it was such a great experience.  I consider myself very lucky to have been welcomed into someone’s home and personal event.

The confirmation was (from what I understood) very similar, if not the same, as the religious Confirmations that my friends had here in America.  We did not attend the service at the church, but I still got a deep glimpse of their traditions.  And a lot of delicious, fresh food was involved so I also lucked out in that sense.

First of all, the house we went to was beautiful.  Huge and modern; large windows; lots of wood; and very high ceilings on the main floor.  Second, the food was YUMMMMY.  There was a very aesthetically pleasing platter of smoked salmon that made it look delicious, but I was not a big fan of the salmon.  I don’t like raw fish or sushi.  But it is one of Norway’s best and most expensive foods so I couldn’t not try it.  There was an assortment of other meats, a very sweet fruit salad, a pasta salad, and several other dishes that I can’t remember.  And I swear I took pictures but for some crazy reason, I can’t find them.  It’s making me very sad.

There were also some delicious desserts that were homemade and baked by Ninna’s little cousins, who are barely ten years old.  I remember a chocolate/mocha type of cake, cookies, another cake (I want to say it was strawberry flavored), and other treats.  And now it’s making me very sad that I can’t remember all the desserts that were served.

The Konfirmasjon celebrant was wearing a “Bunad” which is what they call their traditional dresses worn on special occasions such as this, and May 17th, Norway’s independence day.  The dresses represent where you are from; Ninna wore a green one with certain pins and designs that represented where her family came from, while her cousin wore a red one with different pins and designs that celebrated her family’s origin.  I can describe the dresses as very traditional (as in 18th century, early American colonization times) and similar to pilgrim clothing.  

What I liked best was seeing how proud they were of their culture and their dresses.  In America today, it would be humorous for somebody to wear Bunads, but in Norway it was an honor and an exciting opportunity.  

Overall, I think this day was very insightful.  I talked to all of the people in Ninna’s family–there were about thirty people (more or less) at the party.  They were all such friendly, welcoming, people.  It was very funny to try and talk to the younger kids because they were shy to speak English.  In Norway, English is taught in all schools and everyone knows how, but they hardly ever speak it, so all of the parents at the party were glad to have their kids practice their English speaking skills with me.

I wasn’t surprised with how open everyone was.  I was so glad that they were.  And I would like to assume that they were so curious about me because I was so curious about them; that they were just reciprocating the vibes of interest I was giving.

With this I want to point out one of my very favorite things about travel, specifically to foreign countries.  It will always be a challenge to go to a country you are unfamiliar with.  It will always be a test when you find yourself facing a language barrier.  And it will never be easy to suddenly be thrown into a culture that you can’t immediately identify with.

But isn’t that where you find the beauty of learning?  Learning takes place much stronger outside of the classroom, in my opinion.  Experience is where it’s at.  To be engaged completely, mind and body, in a situation is the quickest way to learn.  And travel is the best way to do that.

People are always complaining of boredom.  Stress.  Confusion.  But it is so simple if they would just open their eyes to see the possibilities that exist in opening the door where travel is knocking.

Step out of your boundaries.  Discover the vastness of everything.  There are so many places to see.  So many languages to be exposed to.  So many foods to try.  So many traditions to experience.  And so many lives to encounter.

And yet everyone is still complaining.  We always want more.  “More” is out there.  Buy a plane ticket and you will see.

[I will attempt to find photos from this day, but for some reason they don’t exist on my computer right now.  Hopefully an update by tomorrow!]

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