Saturday, May 18, 2013

Viva Norway!

"Do you want to celebrate Norwegian National Day with us?"

It was really all SEP had to say, and I was totally in. Not only are there never enough Norwegians in my life, but I'm a huge nerd for new cultural experiences. I yammered on about it for weeks and even took part of Friday off to celebrate with CN and SEP. It's possible that I could have blown it out of proportion, but I didn't. It was just as awesome as I expected, which is very

Norwegian National Day is the 17th of May, the day in 1814 when the Norwegian Constitution was signed, declaring Norway's new role as a nation independent from Sweden. And, as I've mentioned before, there's a small yet bustling Norwegian population in New York, so there was much excitement for the holiday. 

To my delight, the day began with champagne that CN went out and purchased early Friday morning after she had her nails painted a patriotic Norwegian red. She popped open the bottle and started waving her Norwegian flag around the apartment, playing Norwegian national anthems on her iPhone. I ate a Kvikk Lunsj, which is like a better, Norwegian version of a Kit Kat bar. We were to get dolled up in spring finery and head to the Sjømannskirken, the Norwegian Seaman's Church, on 52nd Street between First and Second Avenues. The girls were adorned with their Norwegian ribbons and flags, and on the way to the bus stop we were stopped multiple times to ask what country the flag was from, or to be wished "Gratulerer Med Dagen," which means "Happy Birthday!"

At the church, many women were also wearing the traditional Norwegian costume called a bunad, a long embroidered skirt with a vest and blouse. Some little girls wearing the ensemble wore their hair in braids. Little boys wore Norway t-shirts and socks. Men wore navy suits, some even with Norwegian flag ties. Everybody waved Norwegian flags, drank the orange-flavored Norwegian soda called Solo from glass bottles, ate vaflen (waffles) with jam or Pølse med lompe, a sort of Norwegian hot dog (Pølse) served on a thick, potato-based crepe (lompe). I was too nervous to order for myself, so I asked SEP to get me one--my Norwegian accent still needs some work!

There were fishing games, sack races, and ring tosses for children, and music inside the church. People ambled around nibbling on white birthday cake swirled with raspberries. The girls shouted HIP-HIP-HUDDA! when we (and by "we" I mean everyone attending the festival) circled the block waving flags, a mini-parade of sorts.

Then, of course, we headed downtown to keep celebrating Norway, at a normally not-specifically-Norwegian bar that was decked out in flags, had a giant chalk drawing on the sidewalk that said 'Norway' and was selling Pølse. The bar's patio was packed with twentysomething and thirtysomething Norwegian New Yorkers, doing what young people do best to celebrate their national days the world over: getting wasted. Mostly by drinking frozen margaritas. Though I'm not sure those were specifically Norwegian...