May the 17th is Constitution Day, Norway’s National Day – not quite Independence Day, but close enough in spirit. The traditional ingredients include the ‘Russ’, reveling teenagers celebrating their impending graduation by jeopardizing their final exams with weeks of uninterrupted binge drinking in customized buses that are really mobile ‘ghetto blasters’; parades of schoolchildren marching past waving royals; and ice cream and hot dogs in quantities designed to incapacitate young and old.
But this year, the stroke of midnight ushered the occasion in under unusually nationalist circumstances.
Alexander Rybak, all eyebrows and eager smile, had sung and fiddled his way to a record victory in the Eurovision Song Contest, almost erasing from memory a tradition of Norwegian tomfoolery, where the country was long synonymous with bizarre acts and absolutely no points.
His appropriately named ‘Fairytale’ shattered the voting total for previous songs, and sparked an orgy of celebration. Prime Minister Stoltenberg bestowed congratulations on live TV, and the media milked the event for days.
First, how much did other the media in other countries love Alex and his song (consensus: he makes the girls weak in the knees and it really is a catchy tune). Then, which ones hated it, or him (Eurovision is for mocking, and can’t someone shut him up). Thousands of Norwegians would then bombard the relevant misguided foreigners (notably this one) until they apologized.
Norway’s Eurovision success was even reported as being the first thing on the conversational agenda when PMs Vladimir Putin and Stoltenberg met on the 19th to discuss business in Moscow, where the song contest had just been held.
But you can judge for yourself thanks to the Internet – here is Norway’s Belarus-born ‘charm troll’ performing the closing encore on the big night. He introduces the song with thanks to the Russian hosts and also an off-the-cuff invitiation to meet him at Oslo airport the following evening – an offer over 5,000 hysterical fans took up.