Today is Mother’s Day in Norway. Why do Norwegians celebrate Mother’s Day the second Sunday of February?
Flowers from my daughter on Mother’s Day
I had a great surprise waiting for me this morning. My daughter, who lives at home, woke me up with eggs and bacon, presents and some very pretty tulips. My son, who is currently in Japan with his school, FaceTimed me with hugs and kisses.
The reason? It’s Mother’s Day in Norway today.
Why does Norway celebrate Mother’s Day in February?
Mother’s Day started in the USA over a hundred years ago. In the USA, and in large parts of the world, Mother’s Day is celebrated in May.
But if Norway had chosen the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day it might have collided with another great day in this country: The 17th of May, Norway’s National Day.
So Norway ended up, as the only country in the world, with celebrating Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of February.
I wanted to make a list of the best contemporary Scandinavian music but quickly realized that I hadn’t been paying attention. Luckily, I have a daughter who spends quite a few hours every day listening to music and luckily she doesn’t mind teaching her stone age-based mother a thing or two about what I should be listening to.
Here is her list. Check it out and see if you find something you like!
I am an immigrant. I’ve been an immigrant to several countries and for the last 30 years (as of today, actually) I’ve been an immigrant to Norway. I came to Norway to work for a few months because I was broke after having lived in California for some time, and my own country–Denmark–could offer me nothing. Most of my friends were unemployed and I did not want to go down that road.
So I came to Norway with two empty hands and a desire to work. I did what immigrants often do, I took the jobs the locals didn’t want. I worked in housekeeping and as a dishwasher at a hotel, I worked as a waiter and I had a job making open-faced sandwiches in a cafeteria. Later on I grabbed the offer of free education from the Norwegian state and the rest is history. I’ve been working and paying taxes for 25 years now. I’m fairly sure I’ve been a good investment for the state of Norway, even if she did pay for six years of university education. Less so for my birth country, Denmark, who paid for 12 years of school and only received pennies (well, øre) back in taxes from me.
Not exactly what my open face sandwiches looked like…
Me – a parasite
Before I came to Norway, I lived in California. I was probably not a good investment for California. Yes, I did spend money there but I also had a job without paying any taxes. Yes, I was a selfish kid who applied for, and got a job at a cafe, without having a work permit. I would have gladly paid my taxes if it had been possible, but it wasn’t. I wasn’t an illegal immigrant as such–I had a visa to live there–but I definitely worked there illegally. Sorry, California.
Walnut Creek – my home many years ago
The same goes for Greece and Italy, because I’ve lived and worked in both countries for short periods of time. It was perfectly legal for me to live there, but I did not have permission to work (I have to remind you that this was before Schengen and you had to have a work permit even inside the EU). Sorry, Greece and Italy.
There are plenty of ways to die here in Scandinavia. Most of them are the same ways people die in other countries but the Scandinavian edition of Mother Nature does have something special in store for those of us living in – or visiting – this cold corner of the world.
Warning: Do not read this if any of your loved ones died in Scandinavia or if you’re not comfortable with death as a part of life. I am not going to treat death with any kind of respect in this blog post.
How can you die in Scandinavia?
Animals that kill
Some countries have sharks, alligators and crocodiles, venomous snakes and spiders (yikes) and even jellyfish that can kill you (yes, I’m looking at you, Australia).
Luckily it’s too cold for any of those animals to live in Scandinavia. Yes, we do have sharks but they’re about the size of a dachshund and not really very scary. Yes, we also have venomous snakes but they can probably, maybe, if you’re really unlucky, kill said dachshund if your vet is more than 24 hours away. Humans are safe.
So what kind of animals kill people here in Scandinavia?
Is it this guy?
Wolves don’t kill people.
Nope. Wolves may kill sheep–and may be killed by angry sheep farmers–but they do not kill people. Not even tourists.
Is it this girl?
Bears do not kill people – at least not very often.
Nope. Bears also like to snack on sheep and they can kill people. But it’s been a long-long time since they killed anyone in Scandinavia. If you’re not between a mother bear and her cubs, you’re probably safe. Polar bears are very dangerous but the only place in Scandinavia where you’ll find polar bears is on Svalbard. On Svalbard it’s mandatory to carry a rifle because of potential polar bear attacks.
Svalbard is pretty far to the north and far from mainland Scandinavia so polar bears are not really a danger to most Scandinavians
So which mammal (apart from homo sapiens) kills most people in Scandinavia? Any guesses?
It’s this guy:
Moose don’t kill people. People in cars kill moose … and themselves
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Swedes and Norwegians are hurt or killed every year because they drive into a moose. Danes are safe because there are no moose in Denmark.
A moose is a very heavy animal with very thin legs. This means that if a car hits the poor moose, its huge body will land on the windshield or on top of the car and the passengers of the car will be crushed by the weight of it.
After 6-10 months of snow, sleet and rain, something strange makes Scandinavians stare at the sky. A big yellow ball not only brightens up the day (and night) – it sends heat to our cold corner of the world.
What is that weird ball in the sky?
So what do we do when we’re no longer the place where the sun doesn’t shine?
1, We go outside
Scandinavians tend to be at our most creative when the sun shines and we really should be at work or school. We’ll work at home (= sit outside with the laptop and do absolutely nothing work-related), take long lunches (= sit outside with some food and try to chew as slowly as possible to avoid going back inside) and study for our exams at the local park (= fall asleep at the park while hoping we’ll somehow manage to remember everything we read in the cold winter months).
Everyone wants to be outside when the sun shines
In July nobody works. Do not call a Scandinavian work place and expect people to actually help you out. They may have one person on duty but he or she can only tell you to call back in August. It’s summer – you expect us to work?!?
Some of us – actually 60-70% of us – are lucky enough to have a cabin in the family. We’ll go to that cabin every weekend when the weather is nice. Which results in the roads out of our cities looking like this on Friday afternoon:
Imagine you’re an ordinary 13 year old boy minding your own business, when Thor (the God of Thunder – not the Marvel character) suddenly appears in a stroke of lightning and takes you to Valhalla. And imagine that the Norse mythology is not just a mythology – it’s real!
This is the beginning of the book Erik Menneskesøn (Erik Son of Humans), written by Danish Lars-Henrik Olsen. Now there are plans for making this book into a movie – a movie I really want to see!
The reason why I want to see it is not because I liked the book (well, I did but I was not really in the target group for the book when I read it). I really want to see this movie because the director seems to take history seriously. And she seems to be thorough with the details, making this a (hopefully) historically correct movie – maybe the first historically correct Viking movie ever.
Scandinavia is known for our generous benefits for people who get sick. You can take time off from work with full pay (you’ll need your doctor to sign some documents if you’re sick for extended periods of time) or almost full pay if you get sick. A common cold or cancer – you have a right to keep your job and to keep your monthly income.
One would think that this was something new. You know – crazy Scandinavians and our welfare state – but actually it’s not. I found an article that referred to the first mentioning of sick pay. Guess when that was? Around year 1000. Go Vikings! (no, not the football Vikings – the real ones).
King Magnus Lagabøte’s (1238-80) law. Not the first law that addresses sick pay.
This blog was originally made by Reefchic because she thought I should have a place outside Fanfiction.net for my fanfiction. I’m so grateful to her but my blog has developed into a blog about Vikings and Scandinavia – two things I LOVE to talk about – more than fanfiction. I haven’t even moved all of my stories over here yet.
But now I want to turn everyone’s attention back to fanfiction because I’m so thrilled that I’m practically jumping up and down. I’ve been nominated to “All Time Favorite True Blood Fanfiction” (yes, yes, I write Southern Vampire Mysteries fanfiction but we’re often lumped together) by Fanatic Fanfics Award.
Dead with the Vikings – a Thyra10 Fanfiction and an Alby90 banner
So many great fanfics have been nominated in so many interesting categories and I’m truly honored to be mentioned among them. It’s my most popular story, Dead with the Vikings, that has been nominated.
Sookie Stackhouse wakes up one morning to find herself thrown back in time to when Eric Northman was alive and breathing and not yet turned into a vampire.
I want to thank everyone who’s been emailing, Tweeting and PMing me about this nomination. I would never have known if it wasn’t for you guys! I also want to thank Rascalthemutant for betaing this baby. I wrote it back in 2010 but it’s still one of the stories I’ve had the most fun writing. I love the Viking age (as some of you might have guessed) and my story is probably based on my secret dream of waking up in the Viking age myself one morning. It hasn’t happened yet, but who knows?