Written September 12, 2010. This past weekend I returned to Norway for the first time since June for Oistein’s little brother’s confirmation. It was pure joy to hear Scandinavian in the airport while waiting for my flight, and I realized that I was vacationing in the comfortable zone of being able to understand 90% of what is happening around me . (Home is of course 100%). (Please see previous post for more background on this.) What a lovely escape! In addition to this, it was extremely comforting to see my wonderful wonderful boyfriend waiting for me at the Oslo airport (where I have arrived oh-so-many times before) with his huge open arms. Pure joy.
It was an extremely short weekend visit, but totally worth it. It was so wonderful to see Oistein’s family again, it had been too long. Their warm hugs and smiles are so welcoming, and their home is of course so open and fun to be in. I arrived Friday night, around midnight. On Saturday the confirmation was held in the church from 1pm for about an hour. The ceremony was short and filled with singing, a funny sermon by the pastor, and a ceremonial touching of the head type deal (not quite sure what went down) when Ole was confirmed. (Our row of family members stood whilethis happened). Then, there were many words of encouragement by the pastor while she tried to get the confirmed teens to be excited about staying engaged with the church (my sense is that it did not resonate too deeply, but I could be wrong. I am, afterall, only at a 90% level, here). Afterwards, we took pictures and then left to meet a total of 26 family members at a restaurant about 10-15 minutes away. *Note, the church where this occurred was in the neighborhood where the family lives, in a part of Oslo, and is also where Ole was baptized.
The restaurant was perfect! It was an old house, retaining the decor and feel of Norway from maybe 100 years ago (that is a guess). The food was great, menu chosen by Ole. Crab salad, Deer and veggies for dinner, and a great chocolate cake thing “fambone?” with raspberry sorbet.Then, to my surprise, there were SONGS! There were 2 songs written by Eli and Christian (the parents), one
by the Aunt/Uncle/Cousins, and one by Katrine (sister) which was RAPPED (hilarious). I was starting to really be impressed by the lyrical talents of this family when I then learned that apparently this is a confirmation tradition and that everyone gets songs written about them! Well, this seems to be a great reason to be confirmed. When else can you have a choir of people singing about how great you are?
After a great dinner, we returned to the house for the required event which happens at all Norwegian celebrations: Coffee and Cake. This time, however, there were 11 cakes that had been baked by Eli, family/neighbors. It was pretty crazy! So we sat down around beautifully arranged and set tables (Eli is a great hostess) and ate cake and drank coffee for a good 6 hours. Around 11 (or maybe later) we bid farewell to the final guests and went to bed, our tummies filled with great food and LOTS of cake. Ole was happy with the day- especially given that another requisite of confirmations in Norway is the gift giving, where teens acquire quite a large sum of money to be saved or spent on a practical item of their desire. It seems to me that the confirmation is less about the church, and more a way of celebrating the youth’s new level of maturity, and seems to encourages a sense of ownership over their actions.
All in all it was fun to see first hand, and was, as always, a joy to be a part of celebrating Raak-Stokke (Berget) style. I already am looking forward to next time! If not later this fall, at the very least for Christmas, only a few months away.