Updated: Jun 20, 2020
A healthy portion of patriotism goes a long way. Better still, it results in a deep historic sense, pride and respect of traditions. Lots of nations are 'self-lovers'. The US for example, the UK - despite the Brexit mess - , France and also Norway. Now, the latter is the subject of the following story.
Whenever we went out during summer, to visit family or for shopping, we would pass the strawberry fields in the south east, indicated by signs Jordbaer - Plukk Selv. Oftentimes we would stop to buy a few kilos. I would sit in the back of the car for the rest of the journey, with my motion sickness, being doubly nauseated because of an overdose of those strawberries. The nausea wouldn't keep me from eating them though. And I must say, they were pretty special. And so thought the rest of the Norwegians.
Nothing beats Norwegian strawberries. Nothing - and when I say nothing, I mean absolutely nothing - goes beyond (the exorbitantly expensive) Norwegian strawberries...according to the Norwegians. I remember the strawberry price going through the roof. And while it did, there were also less expensive strawberries available. They were the ones imported from France and the Netherlands. You know what happened to those strawberries? They were pulverised and dumped in the ditches. Why? Well, they weren't Norwegian. So that expains.
Oil and smart investment of oil-generated revenue, is how the Norwegians have come to become the incredibly wealthy nation of five million that they are. Combine that with transparent governance, a country that cares about its citizens, a collectivist society and we have the recipe of a successful country that is a credible player on the world stage. And just like any admirable person instinctively knows he or she is being admired, the Norwegians are well aware of their value, which only adds to their pride.
Did you ever notice the abundant use of the national flag? It's a clear sign on the wall when you're dealing with pride people. The Norwegian flag (a blue and white cross on a red background) is so special that Norwegians never fly it unless accompanied by an encyclopaedia of rules. What Norwegians use to represent their flag is a vimpel: a thin triangular strip of a flag with the same colours. Vimpels fly on the mast in gardens, schools, government buildings, amateur drama clubs and small village dance shows. I have seen more vimpels in Norway than the actual flag, when I come to think of it.
The Day of Independance
A huge and highly anticipated tradition is the celebration of May 17th, Constitution - or Independance Day. Rain or shine, each and every Norwegian joins the celebrations. Once again, it shows how proud they are of their country in general, and of their independant kingdom in particular. Regardless of age and gender, traditional wear, the Bunad, is widely used throughout the country. Each region has its own patterns, fabrics and colour scheme and the handmade versions are real works of art. To this day the Bunad forms an inspiration for contemporary design, such as the Fram Oslo Bunad blankets; the softest of woolen plaids which are woven in the traditional colours of the different regions.
Liberty in Unity
In retrospect I think the Norwegians are among the most patriotic people imaginable. My father's opinion about the Norwegian government however, was the exception to the rule. I remember him strongly expressing (grumbling and cursing ;-)) his annoyance about their far-reaching and detailed interference with peoples' private lives, as he called it. Hence part of the reason he turned his back on his home country. For me though, despite my free spirited vision on life, supported by my motto Liberty in Unity, Norway never ceases to attract.
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