Hard facts

It suddenly occurred to me that Norway is not all sunshine and MURDER during the Easter holiday. It also occurred to me that it isn’t easy to even get the basics of the Easter holiday across here – it is huge, with kids having the next week completely free from school and the nation knocking off from ‘Maundy Thursday’ through Easter Monday, a guaranteed five day break that most people add to by taking most or all of this coming week off as well.

And then there are the nuts.

I have been here long enough to associate Easter with murder and crime, as noted in the previous blog entry, but there is another firmly entrenched Norwegian tradition for this holiday – Påskenøtter – or ‘Easter nuts’.

What? – you may well ask. Nuts, as in hard to crack. Questions and quizzes. When you are not skiing, curled up in front of the fire and getting involved in the solution of some kind of murder, you should at least be trying to exercise the grey matter by taking a quiz, which are again offered on all available media. The Easter newspapers, are largely quiz sheets, since the few that come out are prepared long in advance, because all the journalists are on Easter break.

I wondered if there was some explanation for this curious tradition, and visited the Norwegian Wikipedia entry on celebrating Easter, only to find that the entry there was currently rated as controversial and possibly inaccurate. Presumably because it disputes the entire definition of a traditional Norwegian Easter.

The article is particularly scathing about the media constructed ‘myth’ of the Easter holiday spent in the mountains, with its common ingredients of skiing and murder mysteries in the warm glow of the cabin fireplace.

Well, the passion for murder is reasonably well documented, but the wiki’s citation of a snowy cabin Easter as being something for just 3-5% of the population is rather thinly supported. And if my neighborhood and my youngest son’s circle of friends is anything to go by, it is the reverse, and we are among the 4% having a home holiday. The truth surely lies somewhere between.

No suggestions for the history of nut solving either. Wikipedia needs some work in Norway.

A final note – Aftenposten gets the first award for twisted Easter headline for the recipe presented in chef Yngve Ekern’s blog: Påskenøtter med baller – which translates to ‘Easter nuts with balls’. Given the sometimes terrifying nature of Norwegian cuisine, I should perhaps clarify that the recipe seems to be spectacularly ball-free. It is an African lamb recipe involving a great deal of peanut and chilli, and I can only guess that the it is latter ingredient that provides the macho aspect indicated in the title.


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