Typically I associate Easter with green grass, eggs hidden behind the trees or in a flower garden, warm sunshine, and kids dressed in adorable outfits (see Easter pics from last year below depicting some VERY cute kids). It is a different story above the Artic Circle, especially when Easter falls a little early as it did this year. There was nothing living and green to be seen anywhere outside, just fresh white snow everywhere.
We were invited to an Easter Egg hunt with Joel’s boss Kenny and his family, joined by an international group of families living in their area. There were 2 families from Quebec, one from France, one from Germany, one from the UK, and Kenny’s family from Japan. Languages and accents were everywhere. Amazingly the kids all figured out how to play with each other. Most of the kids could speak some level of Norwegian as they have been living here for awhile. Odin and Adelheyd just followed along and figured it out.
I can’t decide if it would be easier or harder to find an Easter Egg in the snow …definitely less running! The hunt begins as the older kids hide eggs for the younger kids (Adelheyd’s age), then one older kid teams up with a youngster and helps them tromp through the snow to find a large cardboard egg filled with candy. The adults hide eggs for the bigger kids then set them loose in the snow. The part I liked the best is that when all of the eggs have been found, the kids gather in a circle and dump all of their findings into a pile. Each kid then gets one of each type of candy. The rest goes to the parents – that is the important part because the chocolate here is DE-LICIOUS! Socialized Easter Egg hunting. All kids get the same amount. Much different from the ‘every man for himself’ attitude in the States. We may bring this tradition back to the States for our next Easter Egg hunt – beware friends!
We were joined over the Easter holiday by our good friend Josh Frame, who kindly flew over from Missoula to bring one kids bike trailer (Chariot), Joel’s mtn bike and an extra set of skis. It turns out it is cheaper to fly all that big gear over (including cost of the plane ticket) than it is to ship it or purchase it in this ridiculously expensive country..another post on that later. So, thank you Josh! Those items have been put to good use. It was also perfect timing to have a visitor. We did not know how seriously Norwegians took their vacations and short work hours until we arrived here. It is pretty amazing actually.
The typical work day is from 8 to 3:45 with an hour for a coffee break or some exercise during that time. There seem to be constant vacation days. Today, May 1st, for example is a vacation day. No work, no school, no stores open. That is the really interesting part…even the grocery stores close on many of the major holidays and every Sunday. No grocery shopping on Sunday. For Easter, the holiday began at noon on Wednesday. Kids were out of school, people leaving work, stores closing by 3pm. They remained closed from Wednesday until the following Tuesday. A few grocery stores opened for a short time on Saturday, but other than that, no stores for 5 days. Good thing we found out in time to stock the refrigerator! In lieu of shopping, we took a few nice snowy road trips to check out the surrounding islands and a few ski trips. It was a bit tough to take pictures as it really did snow about 8-10 inches a day for 2 weeks straight. We did catch sight of some reindeer hanging out in the snow. Definitely the first time any of all saw wild reindeer – very cool. All in all, Easter was a fun adventure week with our friend from Missoula, figuring out the Norwegian way of life.