The city of Bergen does this quaint little thing every year on the 1st of December. All its good citizens make a collective decision to ignore the pissing rain, the perpetually falling dark and oppressive gloom, to throw a great, big, lighting-of-the-lights party in the center of town. Lysefestivalen they call it—The Light Festival. Clever, isn’t it?
Mister and I have never been. Mostly because we’re both about 87 years old at heart, and frankly, we worry that we can’t handle that much festive good cheer, but also because it sounds like a lot of work, what with all the layering of the clothes, and the finding of the gloves and the hats, and the dragging of reluctant toddlers through crowded city streets. And Christ, what if one of them has to pee in the middle of it all? A logistical nightmare best left untried.
But the kids are getting older, more mobile, increasingly continent. And with EM in school now, she hears about these things, and isn’t shy about asking why we never get to do anything fun like that? So when she asked us last week couldn’t we please, please, please go to Lysefestivalen this year, neither Mister nor I could think of a single good reason why not. And, indeed, both of us kind of harrumphed and thought, “Yeah, we really should do that. Might be kind of fun. Yes, EM. Let’s do it!”
So off we went.
We started the day (yesterday) off early at a local arts and crafts market. Similar, I’d guess, to local arts and crafts markets the world over—small town artists hawking their small town hobbies at—shall we say—optimistic prices. There were soap makers, glass makers, pottery makers, jewelry makers, quilt makers, cheaply repainted ceramic tat makers. Lots of rosemåling, for local flavor. Along with a hefty number of stands selling small knitted doll clothes, and seemingly the same collection of hats, gloves, and knickers that the naked ladies at my gym were so agog over.
It was a nice little market, and personally, I would have been happy to spend a few hours there, milling about and fingering the merchandise. I happened upon the perfect gift for Grandma ‘Nita. I swear, the very thing. It practically screamed at me, “Buy me and send me to that good woman NOW, you stingy, ungrateful daughter, you!” And I would have done it too, if I had been about a billionaire. Nor did I have a chance to talk Mister into ponying up the ridiculously inflated price, because the kids had decided just 47 seconds after entering the building that this was absolutely the most boring place in the whole world and they demanded, rather persistently, that we leave immediately. Eventually they won, and we headed into town before I’d had a chance to see everything.
We weren’t exactly sure what to expect once we got there. We knew there would be an outdoor concert of some sort. Some speeches. Some rallying together of public spirit. And fireworks at the end. So a little like the 4th of July, right? We were stumped as to what any of that had to do with Christmas, but we were game to find out.
As it turns out, Lysefestivalen isn’t just a little like the 4th of July, it’s a whole heck of a lot like it, only with hats, and gloves, and rain boots instead of tank tops and cutoffs. And the rather than having to languish all day waiting for the fireworks to start--drinking beer and eating snow cones--the whole shebang is over and done with by quarter to 5 in the evening cuz’ that’s when it’s dark. Hard to say if that’s a bad thing or not—less beer is nothing to cheer about, but I was mighty glad to be heading home before bedtime.
There were other differences, of course, both for better and for worse. The cold, wet, city pavement, for example, wasn’t nearly as cozy as a sun warmed grassy knoll. But instead of sparklers, we were all given open flame torches, which, let’s face it, pretty much kick all kinds of sparkler ass—fire hazard notwithstanding. There was indeed a stage where local choirs and bands performed carols and other seasonal favorites. A minister was forced on us at one point. She was kind enough to remind us all of the true meaning of Christmas. We, in turn, were kind enough not to boo her off the stage. And at the end of it all—fireworks! A reasonably awesome display of fireworks. After which, 5,000 people headed, en masse, for their cars, where we all sat in a parking lot for 40 minutes waiting to move a single car length.
Happy 4th everyone! And furthermore—Season’s Greetings!
I’m so glad we went. It turned out to be exactly what I needed to shake me—however briefly—out of my funk.
I’m toying with an idea to do a daily post from now until Christmas featuring a picture of some holiday scene or other from my home to yours. I don’t know. Might be a bit of a strain to come up with that many pictures. But I like the idea….so stay tuned.