History & Traditions, Traditional Art

First Trip to Nepal

Fellow blogger Pooja from Stories from Europe grew up in Nepal, so we've joined forces to write about a city located close to Kathmandu, called Bhaktapur. The individual accounts are about the same city, Bhaktapur, but written from a perspective of 34 years apart. What things had changed? What comparisons can we draw? Let's find… Continue reading First Trip to Nepal

Book review, Traditional Art, Travel

Easter in Norway

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Norwegian Easter Traditions

Easter is a time when Norwegians head for the hills, or in Norway’s case, the mountains.

Most families have a cabin they own in the ‘fjeller’ – or mountains, decorated in traditional Norwegian ‘Hytte’ style. ‘Hytte’ means cabin, plural ‘Hytter’, in Norwegian.

Hytter are timber cottages decorated with Norwegian crafts such as Traditional Rosemaling Art, woodcarving, weaving and embroidery, with mostly rustic interiors, fitted with benches topped with reindeer furs, (sitteunderlag), and other traditional furnishings.

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Tradition Norwegian embroidery decorates the windows

Norwegian ‘Hytter’ Mountain Cabins

Hytter, or cabins, are quite rudimentary houses, partly because of the remoteness of their locations and partly due to the Norwegian tradition of getting back to nature. Visiting a family mountain cabin at Easter is a therapeutic time for Norwegians to ski, breathe in the fresh mountain air, relax and for a short time, not rely on everyday modern conveniences.

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Beitostølen

So when I was fortunate enough to be invited to a Hytte in Beito, high up in the Norwegian mountains with Norwegian friends, how could I resist?

The area known as Beito is part of the community at Beitostølen, an elite skiing location where the likes of the Norwegian Olympic ski team spent their time. Norwegian-Australian friends who heard I was going to visit Beitostølen, were quite rightly jealous, reacting with comments like,

“That is where the ski team practice.”

“Do you realize how lucky you are to be going to Beitostølen?”

I did. It was different to any other holiday I had experienced.

Mountain cabin
A Norwegian Hytte

The Hytte at Beito comprised three timber cabins, with adjoining composting toilet and washroom; that would later hold a shower at some point in the future.

The cabins, themselves, were not equipped with running water, so we sponged ourselves using a bucket, with water sourced from the nearby spring. Fetching the water is a chore that would traditionally be delegated to children.

Living as I do in Australia, meant things like fetching water in the snow proved to be a novel experience. I was the first to volunteer for this task as it was another chance to be outside in the hushed, cosy silence of the snow-covered hillside.

If it meant I was to traipse through knee-deep snow to collect water, those mediative moments of silence, amidst the breathtaking mountain scenery, inhaling fresh Norwegian air and hearing only my muffled footsteps, were merely a comforting, restorative practice for me.

snowy mountains
Norway

Norwegian Hytte Meals

Hytter meals are simple, apart from breakfast. The traditional hytte breakfast is a feast of eggs, salmon, cheese, bread, jam and vegetables, such as cucumber and carrot and also perhaps some yoghurt/kefir or waffles. Our bodies needed lots of food, ostensibly, to keep warm and active out in the snow.

Lunch is almost non-existent, but really after the filling Hytte breakfast, who needs lunch? A Norwegian chocolate bar, known as a ‘Quiklunsj’ (Quick lunch), or an apple, would suffice.

Dinner is mostly a laid back affair of home-made soup, cold meat such as lamb or boiled sheep and bread, or ‘Lompe’ – basically a hot dog, with a bread-like wrap made from potato flour, cooked on the outside barbeque or grill, of course.

Things to do at the Hytte

Skiing Bitihorn Beitostolen Norway

We spent the daytime out of doors, unless it was snowing heavily. We skied, tobogganed, slide down snowy slopes with the ‘akebrett,’ a paddle like slide, or the snow bike; walked about in snowshoes, built snow castles, threw snowballs and made plenty of snow angels, and snow “candles,” just because.

Once darkness arrived, it was time to ‘play’ inside, talking, drawing or Rosemaling – another Norwegian tradition, which is actually my great passion. If it was snowing hard outside during the day, there would be more Rosemaling as wells as card games or puppet shows, for the children. We read books too, as there was no TV, nor phone reception, unless you visited the grocery store a few miles away.

Rosemalt kubbestol

To get into the full spirit of the Norwegian Easter experience, I read one of the rivetting crime novels from Norwegian crime fiction author Jo Nesbø to complement my surroundings. He is a compelling writer and if you have not come across him before, you can read a Book Review.

The Hytte was good, clean fun and a really healthy, energetic holiday.

Was it cold by Australian standards?

Yes, but did I like it?

Absolutely. I loved it.

Being at the tail-end of a Norwegian winter, the weather towards Easter is generally calm, without storms. After a cold night, the sun could be so warm, my face became tanned!

During these sun-filled days, the Norwegians would enjoy sitting against a sunny wall, their face upturned towards the sky, taking in much needed Vitamin D that their bodies had missed during the long, dark winter. They even have a word for this kind of activity: Solveggen.

Warming the soul and the body!

This is what the Norwegian Easter did for me, too!

Hand-painted-Easter-eggs-from-Budapest

Wherever you are in the world, you can still travel virtually. When are you going this Easter?

In the words of Norwegians, God Påske.

Happy Easter to you and yours.

Linking to Trent’s #Weeklysmile

Easter Holiday Norway Fieldfare CabinNorwegians, Easter, cabins and crime literature belong together like horse and carriage – a tradition that started over 90 years ago. Here you can find out how to celebrate a typical Norwegian Easter.

First: Ensure that you have skis – either bought or borrowed. Also, make sure you have ski wax even if you are not sure how to use it. There is always someone along the tracks that can help a ‘forlorn wretch’.

When it comes to clothing it is important that it has red color, preferably with a home knitted wool sweater that smells of last year’s bonfire.

But wait a minute. If you do not know it already: Norwegians love skiing, especially at Easter, and many go several miles to their cabins where to spend the vacation. Surprisingly many people ski into a different era where outdoor toilet, drafty cabins and totally deserted landscape are considered paradise.

Easter Holiday Norway skiingAnyhow…

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Community, Gardening, Painting, Photography, Traditional Art

Friendly Friday Challenge – Art Unexpected

Sandy over at The Sandy Chronicles, is hosting this week's Friendly Friday photo challenge and the theme was so tempting, I had to showcase some of my unexpected artsy photographs. Art can be cathartic, fun, controversial or just a bit hard to understand. From a pumpkin photobombing in Japan, to the wilds of Australia's farming… Continue reading Friendly Friday Challenge – Art Unexpected

Australia, Environment, Painting, Traditional Art

Spotlight on Traffic Lights – Traditional Art – July

What is better than a boring grey steel box? A bright colourful one, of course! It might be a little distracting to drivers, but when sitting waiting for the traffic lights to change at an intersection, it chases away the boredom.

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Community, Painting, Traditional Art

Traditional Art – Painted Easter Eggs

Everyone loves chocolate eggs at Easter time, but for some cultures, eggs are much more significant and have turned into a traditional art form. This month, in Traditional Art from around the world, I showcase some examples of Painted Easter Eggs.

Community, History & Traditions, Painting, Traditional Art

Traditional Art – Polish folk art

The beauty of the traditional arts is that they are by ordinary folk, untrained and unskilled. The techniques used, are taught, from family to family, father to son, mother to daughter. Their charm and naivete belies the history, long tradition and meaning in the work.

The vibrant colours and cheery designs are a way for the peasants to brighten up their daily lives.

Traditional Art

Rangoli – What is it? (Women in Art)

Rangoli is a traditional women’s art form common in Hindu households throughout southern India. Designs are drawn directly on the ground and entranceways as part of a ritualistic religious practice. The front steps, entrance, and walkways of buildings are properly cleaned and then decorated with designs and patterns made with chalk powders. There are a remarkable variety of styles and motifs which vary according to the tribal groups and festivals.

History & Traditions, Traditional Art

Traditional Art forms – The Omnipresent Tulip

No matter where you travel, in the world, within each region you will find examples of  innovative forms of folk art. These are not completed by the skilled artisan, but rather by the common person, often with little training and few tools, simply decorating their homes and surrounds. Historically, an itinerant artist might travel from… Continue reading Traditional Art forms – The Omnipresent Tulip

Community, Painting, Traditional Art

Daily Post Photography Challenge – Cover Art

Daily Post Photography challenge for this week - using my art, from Telemark Poster, book, or photographic collection front cover: To join in click: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/cover-art/ and visit some others: http://marshaleith.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/wordpress-weekly-photo-challenge-cover-art/ http://sassyethnicbohemian.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/weekly-photo-challenge-cover-art/ Something to Ponder About

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Architecture, Painting, Traditional Art

It’s Travel Tuesday – Rosekyrkja, Stordal Norway

Before technology arrived, the Norwegians spent long winters in darkness, so in order to brighten up the interior of the homes and places of worship, they developed a form of traditional painting that was completely unique. "Rosemaling artists" or Rose painters earned their living traveling through the western fjords of Norway, often times painting in the styles that might have passed out of fashion 100 years hence, in other areas of Europe. (Such was the isolation of some of the valleys in Norway). But this isolation is also the reason we still have them to view today.

Rosemaling with bird
Community, Painting, Traditional Art

Tutorial – Simple Telemark Rosemaling with Bird

Telemark Rosemaling is the most beautiful of Rosemaling  designs or Norwegian style of folk art, of all. It is dynamic and appears to move. One  motif less commonly seen in Telemark style is Birds. Traditionally birds when used as a motif, were featured looking backward. The meaning stems from religious times in the middle ages… Continue reading Tutorial – Simple Telemark Rosemaling with Bird