Saturday 22 December
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to experience yet another day’s worth of Christmas in Oslo.
In the first part of the evening we visited my friend’s grandfather’s tombstone at the cemetery again. There, his sister lit a candle and laid down a second wreath. More tombstones had been cleared of snow and even more candles had been placed and lit compared to the night before. Apparently it’s quite a Norwegian tradition to visit departed family members around this time of the year.
We then drove to a second cemetery and visited another family member: my friend’s great-great-grandmother. I was asked if we do this sort of thing back home in Australia, but I’m honestly not sure. If not, I think it’s a really nice sentiment worth adopting.
Afterwards we made our way to the second dinner of my week. This time I had been invited to my friend’s grandparents place in Frogner, Oslo. Their apartment was quite something: every room contained what seemed like countless years worth of history, and there was an ornament hanging from every wall or shelf. A framed knitting of Norwegian birds, copper pots and pans hanging in the kitchen and cute little decorations in the dining room. It felt really homely there!
Dinner was served in the form of a smorgasbord (or koldtbord in Norwegian), where each part of the meal is served separately. So it was up to me to decide which bits and pieces I wanted to combine to make up my dinner. It differs from a buffet such that each individual dish is an ingredient in itself and the meal isn’t complete without taking and mixing food from other plates or bowls. The dinner consisted of, among many other things, burger patties (called karbonader, but not quite the same as what you might expect when you hear the word ‘burger’), thin slices of various meats, smoked salmon, eggs and special type of Norwegian flatbread (lefse).
The drinks offered were aquavit (again), cognac and red wine. There were two kinds of dessert, and I really enjoyed one called fyrstekake (another almond derived cake). It felt like that it contained the richness of a chocolate cake, but was a little less sugary and felt more filling and satisfying. As per usual at Norwegian dinners, a jug of black coffee was shared around the table during dessert.
After calling it a night, we went back home where I was greeted by bare Christmas tree that had been cleaned up and brought inside earlier in the day. I’m a little bit inexperienced when it comes to Christmas in general, so this was the first time I think I’ve ever helped set up a real pine tree! We adorned it with lights, tinsel, Norwegian flags and all sorts of red and white decorations.
I then sat down with the family, and with them shared a glass of champagne. The room we were in was a vinterhagen, and sits on the terrace of the house, overlooking the snowy fields and houses of the Greater Oslo area. Huge glass doors and windows stand on each side, separating us from the cold elements. We sat in one corner, and the Christmas tree stood on the opposite side. Red candles burned on a table nearby and snow fell outside. It was a really relaxing to be able to sit there after a busy and social dinner, and talk about everything and nothing with your friend and his family. I think these are the kind of nights you need during Christmas time, especially if you spend all day busying getting packing presents, getting ready for dinner and everything else associated with Christmas time.
How do you like to relax during Christmas time? Is there anything which you place on your trees that you think no other family does?