Norway is perhaps one of the most beautiful countries on earth, but culturally it sometimes gets overshadowed by its neighbour to the east, Sweden. Like Denmark, Norway is a small country with more than their fair share of contributions to the world. Here are six things you didn’t know were Norwegian.
Many of us remember many of Roald Dahl’s classic novels such as James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (both the book and the movie versions) from our childhood. Although he was born in Wales, as his surname suggests, Dahl is born to Norwegian parents who had emigrated to Britain. Dahl still spent most of his summers in Norway, and Norwegian influences were evident in his work. The Witches, for example, is about a British boy of Norwegian descent whose grandmother is still living in Norway. Dahl’s stories are known for their unexpected endings and dark humour.
The Scream (Norwegian: Skrik) is perhaps one of the most recognised pieces of art worldwide and was painted by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, born in Oslo in 1863. Four different versions in various medias were created of The Scream and have been the target of various thefts. Many of Munch’s themes included illness, insanity, and death and he is often regarded as the pioneer of the Expressionist movement in modern painting.
The Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square in London
Since 1947, the Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square in London has been gifted to the people of Britain from the city of Oslo as a token of gratitude for British support of Norway during second World War. The tree is typically a 50-60 year old Norwegian spruce standing at over 20 meters tall and is displayed in Trafalgar Square from the beginning of December until 6 January. The Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square is often considered one of the best places in the world to experience the holiday season.
Arendelle in Disney’s Frozen
Arendalle, the fictional Scandinavian country in the hit Disney movie, Frozen, was inspired by many of Norway’s picturesque landscapes. The look and feel of Arendelle is based on the city of Bergen, in the Norwegian western fjord lands. Several other Norwegian landmarks appear in the film as well such as the Askershus Fortress in Oslo and Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Since the movie was released last year, tourism to Norway has increased with Disney organising Frozen-inspired tours in Norway. It is rumoured that the director visited many places around Scandinavia for inspiration before deciding on Norway.
The cheese slicer
The cheese slicer was invented by the Norwegian inventor Thor Bjørklund and is found in most Scandinavian households today. It is also an important Norwegian export, and its popularity is catching on outside of the Scandinavian countries. Bjørklund also created the company Thor Bjørklund & Sønner AS, which still produces cheese slicers in Lillehammer, Norway. The Swiss also claim this as their invention, but I’m going to give it to Norway!
The word “ski” comes from the Norwegian word “skíð” which means “stick of wood” in English. Although it is believed skiing originated in China as early as 600 BC, the first recorded organised skiing exercises come from military uses of skis by the Norwegian and Swedish infantries. Military exercises included downhill in rough terrain, target practice while skiing downhill, and cross-country skiing with a full military backpack. The first public skiing competition was held in Tromsø, Norway in 1843, so it comes as no surprise then that Norwegians still dominate today at the Winter Olympics in skiing events.
Tusen takk Norway for everything you have given us!
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