Today is a special day in Norway and in Scandinavia. Although two days ago was the official start of summer/longest day of the year, today is the celebration. Quoting from today’s The Norway Post:
In Norway the evening of June 23rd is celebrated as Midsummernight Eve … Huge bonfires are burned as part of the celebrations … the festival has been named after St. John the Baptist, as the 24th is his birthday according to the Festival Calendar of the pre-reformation Church. As with so many of the church festivals, it was introduced in order to replace an old pre-Christian festival on that same date, thought to be the Summer Solstice, or the longest day of the year. In Norway, the evening is celebrated with partying, good food, music and dancing, and the burning of huge bonfires … However, the number of people who actually celebrate Midsummer in the traditional way is on its way down, according to fresh statistics.
In the years I’ve lived here we’ve seen preparations for bonfires when we’ve been out and about, but there hasn’t been anything close to where we live. We haven’t taken part in the partying that surrounds them, nor seen very much smoke letting us know there were fires in the area.
This weekend my husband and I were talking about Midsummer celebrations, and I thought I’d share a few of his memories as a young boy growing up in the 1950’s here in Norway.
Norway was very poor then; the long blackness of the war, the aftermath, and the dark winters made the coming summers, with the prospect of light and happiness, something to anticipate eagerly.
Jan grew up in an area at the base of Ulriken. It was a small community of homes that had been built after the war. He remembers strong connections with the other boys in the area. They didn’t have toys and trinkets; they would take whatever they could get their hands on and create something with it. He remembers specifically an old children’s stroller that they made into a makeshift wagon to drag behind their bikes. And in that wagon went every scrap of wood, timber, and other burnable items that they could find in their explorations of the steep sides of Ulriken, the many construction sites with post-war building, and items their fathers brought home for them … and over weeks they built up a pile for the Midsummernight celebration. They’d use nails and wood to hammer it together; the resulting shape was a solid, teepee-like pyramid that would safely burn all night.
Young adults would set up a stage a short distance away. And in the evening of June 23rd, everyone would congregate for music, dancing, shared food, drink, laughter, the bonfire, and a long night of celebrating life. Jan remembers the older adults coming for a short time, but it was mainly the young adults, youth, and children who joined in the fun.
There were no televisions, few radios (and only one station), no entertainment other than what they could create. This celebration was something they all looked forward to!
Tonight from our vantage point up above the fjord, I hope to see the smoke from a bonfire or two; if so, I’m sure images will find their way to my blog! 🙂 But in the meantime, I thought I’d end this with photos of the setting sun’s glow over Fanafjellet, just before midnight on the longest day of the year here in the Bergen area. I think the sun was being a little mischieveous and decided to have its *own* bonfire celebration!
Reflect: to consider where we’ve been in life, where we are now, and where we’re going … This week, in a post created specifically for this challenge, show us an image that says REFLECTION. It could be … a place you go to collect your thoughts, or an object that reminds you of your achievements. You could also go for something more literal, like a reflection in water.
This is such an appropriate challenge for me, both photo- and thought-wise. My blog’s focus is about sharing my journey as an expatriate and traveler, and exploring how those experiences have shaped me. Most of my words and images reflect what I’m seeing or what I’m thinking. Combining them for this challenge is a natural progression!
Light and an object create reflections. Figuratively or literally, the word “reflection” can be expressed in many ways:
When feeling confident and happy, a person’s inner glow can be reflected outward …
… as this wave’s inner light seemed to radiate out through the foam and air towards me when I was standing on the rocks of Lobster Cove, on Monhegan Island, Maine in 2005.
Sometimes our inner confidence is more muted and discreet, and is reflected without the need for a bright outside source …
… as these ice crystals demonstrated on a cold winter’s morning walk through Langeskogen in Bergen, Norway in 2010.
At times there’s a “sameness” to life’s events; if you compare those events to colors, they’re almost monochromatic. We trudge through moments or days of numbing predictability, until something happens and we suddenly notice an aspect of the day reflected in a manner that catches our attention …
… just as these clouds’ reflections in this mountain-top lake caught my attention, 1000 meters up towards the sky on Stølsheimen in Modalen, Norway in 2007.
That sameness of our surroundings can become routine and dull, and light can reflect and capture the subtle yet playful differences that are there if we just know where to look …
… as the morning sun did when it shone through the shutters and highlighted the dust dancing in our room in Montalcino, Italy in 2007.
Often the light of a moment combines with the darkness of another moment to reflect and create something magical …
… as this 2012 double-rainbow seen through my window in our house on the side of Løvstakken offered.
Rainbow reflections are catchy and show-stopping, but sometimes the hope reflected through the darkness is so small, it’s almost missed …
…as this 2014 reflection on Fanafjellet subtly showed.
Often a reflection distorts the reality …
… as this Viking Ship replica’s bow displays in its reflection in the shallow water at the Hordamuseet near Bergen at the 2012 Viking Festival.
Many a time something will seemingly block a clear view, the reflections combining to get in the way of seeing something clearly; but then you realize that, looking at the big picture, it *all* combines to be something beautiful …
… as the setting sun’s reflection lit up the wispy clouds in front of this January 2014 moon here in Lysekloster, and created something almost magical.
It can certainly be said that, sometimes, a photo of a reflection is just that: a photo of a reflection, no hidden meaning intended, no interpretation needed …
… taken from my front yard in mid-January 2014 as I admired the setting sun’s reflection on the houses of Lysekloster.
What are your thoughts on reflections? Are you participating in Ben’s challenge this week? If so, post your link below; I’d enjoy stopping by to see!