tirsdag 18. mai 2010
17th of May in Longyearbyen (celebrating the Norwegian National Day)
17th of May is Norways National Day, when we are celebrating the making of our own constitution (in 1814). Usually I have always been celebrating this day home, with my family and friends in Haugesund. The flight-tickets is a little bit too expensive to use just for a weekend home, and I really wanted to join the celebration here in Longyearbyen.
To make it as traditional and similar to what I am used to do, I started to make Dronning Maud pudding ("Queen Maud-pudding, named after the queen that once visited my hometown) the day before. Some of my friends, and my whole family, would agree that there will be no real 17th of May celebration without this dessert. (And everyone agrees that this dessert is just delicous!). Often the night before 17th of May me and my friends gather for a BBQ, so I really missed having my friends at home around... But my friends up here held a BBQ outside, so I finally got the feeling that 17th of May where getting closer!
It was very strange to wake up early in 17th of May, and not start to put on my bunad (National costume)... Or see my dad stressing because it take the girls so long time to get in to the bunad, but we always manage to do it before the parade. The reason I woke up so early was because i wanted to go to Huset. There was someone laying flowers on the memorial stone of Einar Sverdrup and the people who lost their lives during the 2nd World War here at Svalbard. There was a few local people there, and representatives from the Governor. Usually on 17th of May we are always congratulating each other with this day, so every time we see someonwe know we say "Gratulerer med dagen!" (Which basically means happy birthday, because it is kind of Norway`s official birthday [even thought we ahve been a nataion for hundreds of years, but ruled by Denmark and Sweden]) Everyone who showed up was congratulating each other, but since I did not know anyone I did not get to say it. Before several of them, whom I´ve never seen before, approached me, took my hand and congratulated me too! =)
The local band was playing (check out their uniform!) the National Anthem (Ja, vi elsker), and someone from the 17th of May Committee held a speech. After this small morning ceremony I was going to walk home again to have breakfast, because the band, committee and the rest of the locals were driving to the next memorial site, a statue of a miner in memory of the miners that lost their lives, and I would not reach that by foot. But a really nice women from the committee asked me if I wanted a lift, so she was kind enough to drive me to all the places where the band was playing this morning! We even stopped in-front of one of the big hotels and sang the National Anthem! After the memorial site in the center, we went outside the Governors house, before she drove me home again.
Then I had breakfast with my friends, with home-made white bread, scrambled eggs, roast beef and gravlaks. (Yes, I know, not exactly student food, but I am too fond of 17th of May to eat anything else than what I usually eat with my family). Then we all got ready to join the parade, and walked down to the church. This is the first time ever that I´ve walked in the parade wearing gore tex pants, a down anorak, and mountain-shoes! The parade would start outside the church, and when I met up with all my friends there was a lot of hugs all around us, and you could hear "Gratulerer med dagen!" everywhere =) The Unis students and staff gathered behind the Unis flag in the parade, and we walked around the center of the town, singing all kinds of national songs, waving the flag and having fun. I even got to carry the flag, which was great, because I always carry a flag in the parade home! =)
The parade ended at a third memorial stie, where the flag was rised, a speech was held, and the band played the Nathional Anthem and everyone was singing (except those who did not speak Norwegian). I did my best to translate the speech for my friends that did not speak Norwegian, but it wasn`t easy. After the parade, some of us went to the kiosk to have the days first ice cream. (When you are a kid, there are 3 things that are great with 17th of May: you can eat as much hot dogs as you want, you play a lot of fun games, and most importantly; you can eat all the ice cream you want!). Then we went to the gym hall, where the local board had organized a cafeteria with hot dogs, ice cream, coffee, tea, soda, home made cakes and some other food. There was also games for the kids, and kids entertaining. Most of the students also joined, and we were sitting up on the tribune watching everything, and enjoying the home made cakes. During the lottery there were several students winning, and of course the whole tribune was exploding with applause.
In the afternoon, some of the Norwegian students were holding games for all the students in Nybyen. The idea was to let the foreign students enjoy the same kind of games all of us used to play when we ere kids. They also bought a lot of ice cream, and it was so cool (!) to be outside playing these games, eating ice cream and having fun in the sun and minus degrees =D We had a potato-sack race, throw a ball at the box-pyramid, carpenter-contest, pulling contest, and keep-the-potate-in-the-spoon-and-run race. We ended it all with a "wife-carrying" contest!
Later in the evening, me and some of my friends gather for dinner, having more delicious food. And finally, my Dronning Maud pudding! And it tasted perfectly =) (all my practice in Bergen certainly paid off!)
So even though I did not get to celebrate with my family and friends at home, I had a great traditional day with my "family" here at Svalbard!