Flames of Advent

Posted on 30. Nov, 2014 by in Holidays, Traditions

Så tenner vi et lys i kveld

vi tenner det for glede. 

Det står og skinner for seg selv

og oss som er tilstede.

Så tenner vi et lys i kveld,

vi tenner det for glede. 

Then we light one candle this evening

we light it for joy.

It stands shining by itself

and for us who are present.

Then we light one candle this evening,

we light it for joy.

Photo courtesy of Susanne Nilsson at Flickr (Creative Commons).

Photo courtesy of Susanne Nilsson at Flickr (Creative Commons).

Today it’s første søndag i advent (first Sunday of Advent). The above poem (by Inger Hagerup) is read by many norske familier (Norwegian families) as they tenner det første lyset på adventskransen (light the first candle on the Advent Wreath). Okay, I may be romanticizing Norge a bit now, but at least the tv lady reads this poem aloud, as she smiles and strikes a fyrstikk (match) in the studio! :-)

Det er veldig mørkt nå (it’s very dark now), so barn og voksne (children and adults) in Norway are all looking forward to jula [YOOlah] (’the’ Christmas – you can also say julen). The adventskrans is a way to spread a little lys i mørket (light in the darkness). It’s also a countdown calendar to Christmas: The wreath (which isn’t always a circle!) has four stearinlys (stearin candles); each of the four last søndager (Sundays) before jul (Christmas), a new candle is lit (for a while). On the last Sunday, all four of them are shining!


Here’s the rest of the poem for those other Sundays:


Så tenner vi to lys i kveld, 

to lys for håp og glede. (Two candles for hope and joy.)

De står og skinner for seg selv 

og oss som er tilstede. 

Så tenner vi to lys i kveld, 

to lys for håp og glede. 


Så tenner vi tre lys i kveld 

for lengsel, håp og glede. (For yearning, hope and joy.)

De står og skinner for seg selv 

og oss som er tilstede. 

Så tenner vi tre lys i kveld, 

for lengsel, håp og glede. 


Vi tenner fire lys i kveld og lar dem brenne ned for lengsel, glede, håp og fred, 

men mest allikevel 

for fred på denne lille jord 

der menneskene bor. 

We light four lights this eveningand let them burn downfor yearning, joy, hope and peace,

but most, still, (we do it)

for peace on this small earth

where the humans live.

The King of Chess Speaks Norwegian!

Posted on 29. Nov, 2014 by in Culture, Sports


By Lee Daniel Crocker (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Sjakkmatt! [shakk-matt] (Checkmate!) – Maybe you’re like me: Having heard that word too many times, I’ve somehow forgotten the existence of sjakk (chess)… (You know, the boardgame with 64 black and white squares and a bunch of black and white figures…)

Noen mennesker (some people), however, elsker å ta et slag sjakk (love playing a game of chess). En liten gruppe (a small group) of people are even extraterrestrially skilled at moving their bonde (pawn), springer (knight), løper (bishop), tårn (rook), dronning (queen) or konge (king) across sjakkbrettet (the chess board). Guess who’s the verdensmester (World Champion) of chess? Since this is the Norwegian blog, it’s of course a Norwegian: 24 years old (!) Magnus Carlsen from Tønsberg.

Chess may not be quite as watchable as skiing, but this month Norwegian journalists once again hurried to Sotji i Russland (Sochi in Russia) to cover verdensmesterskapet i sjakk 2014 (the world championship of chess 2014). I femten dager (for fifteen days!), Carlsen defended his 2013 title as verdensmester against 44 years old Viswanathan Anand from India. On November 23rd, after 11 omganger (matches), Carlsen was declared vinner (winner).


Magnus Carlsen making a move. Thanks to Intel Free Press at Flickr (Creative Commons).

I hardly know anything about chess as a sport, and would be surprised if a majority of Norwegians did! :-) Nevertheless, Norwegian news outlets have been very busy telling every nordmann (Norwegian) that a landsmann (fellow Norwegian) has brought ære (honour) to the nation! Carlsen was even portrayed and called sjakkhelten (the chess hero) by Se og Hør (”Look and Listen”), the most trashy gossip mag you’ll ever find in Norwegian!

When Carlsen bet Anand in 2013, the Norwegian geni [shehNEE] (genious) was only 22 years old. So, if you want to snatch pokalen (the trophy) from Carlsen, you’d better invite a friend and get down to that board! Husk at øvelse gjør mester! (Remember that practice makes perfect!)



Here you can see some photos of Carlsen and Anand being greeted by Vladimir Putin.

Here there’s a fun video of actor Gbenga Akinnagbe going to Sochi to look at the games.

A Trip to Trondheim

Posted on 31. Oct, 2014 by in Geography, History

Huse i TrondheimTrondheim [TRONN-hime] is the third-largest city of Norge (following Bergen and Oslo). I recently had the chance to visit it and thought I’d share a bit of denne vakre byen (this beautiful city) with you.

Trondheim is the capital of Trøndelag, a historical region that links the remote Nordnorge (Northern Norway) to the rest of the country. In a way, it’s the true centre of Norway. Vikingene (the Vikings) made it their capital. Den norske kongen (the Norwegian king) is still sworn in here. The kroner (crowns) of den norske kongefamilien (the Norwegian royal family) are being kept here.

Many people come to Trondheim in order to experience Nidarosdomen, a huge cathedral. (The name means ”the Nidaros cathedral”, Nidaros being an old name for Trondheim.) It was built on top of the grav (grave) of Olav den hellige (Olav the Holy), the most important Norwegian saint. (In the Middle Ages, Norway was a Catholic country, and had saints like Mexico or Italy.)

There are many students in Trondheim, partially because of NTNU, a huge university specialising in natural sciences. This of course means that there are a lot of things going on in the city, from the bustling beer halls of Samfundet [SAMfunneh] – a students’ cultural house – to the romantic, uptown cafés of Bakklandet. This doesn’t mean that you’ll find students’ prices here, though. I generally found the city to be really expensive. For instance, a night in a vandrerhjem [VANdreryem] (youth hostel) dorm cost me about 350 Kroner, more than 50 American Dollars.

Nidarosdomen. Courtesy of Jan Hammershaug at Flickr (Creative-Commons Licence).

Nidarosdomen. Courtesy of Jan Hammershaug at Flickr (Creative-Commons Licence).

I’ve only been to Trondheim på høsten (in Autumn/Fall), which is a season that suits it well. Trehusene (the wooden houses) on both sides of Nidelva (the river Nid) are the perfect match for all the colourful leaves. Nidelva, which gave Trondheim its old name Nidaros (”the Nid estuary”) runs into Trondheimsfjorden.

There are lots of cosy restaurants and pubs in Trondheim, and several museums, such as Rockheim, Norway’s national museum of popular music!

What’s up with all this -heim stuff? Heim means home, and Trondheim is the ”home” of the people known as trøndere. (In Norwegian Bokmål and Danish the word for home is hjem, which is why you’ll also see the name spelt Trondhjem.) Many Norwegians outside Trøndelag still view trøndere as a bit different. I guess this is because their dialect is very distinct and a bit hard to understand if you’re not used to it. Trøndere sometimes end their phrases with sjø [shir], which is short for skjønner du (you see).