Most people don’t realise this, but Norwegian is actually two languages not one! Both are official languages of the country.
Bokmål is the most common with 80 to 95% of the population speaking this as their first language. It is based on Danish but with a Norwegian flavour, and stems from when Norway was ruled by Denmark, with Danish being the language of the elite, used in courts and for other administrative purposes. Bokmål, which means “book language”, has evolved separately from Danish, and although they are mutually intelligible, they are two separate languages now.
Nynorsk (new Norwegian) is the language spoken by the remainder of the population. This language is based on the way the rural population spoke rather than how the ruling classes spoke.
The two languages together have about 5 million speakers. Both languages are taught in school, but students can choose which one they specialise in. An idea was put forward in the past to unify the two languages to create one Norwegian language, but it never really took off.
If you fancy leaning a little Norwegian, try this free course from FutureLearn.
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Vaisakhi, also spelt Baisakhi, celebrates the founding of the Sikh community. It is celebrated on April 14th each year.
On 14th April 1699 group Gobind Singh summoned Sikhs from all around the world. When they were gathered together, he asked who amongst them would be prepared to give his life for his faith.
One man stepped forward and Guru Gobind Singh took him into a tent and then reappeared shortly after with a blood covered sword. The Guru repeated the question and another man stepped forward. Again he was taken into a tent and again the Guru reappeared with a blood covered sword. Three more times the question was asked and three more times a volunteer stepped forward to be taken into the tent.
After the fifth time, all five of the men stepped out of the tent. Guru Gobind Singh called them the five beloved ones and they became the first Sikh community, known as the Khalsa. He presented each of them with the 5Ks as symbols of their purity and courage, and he announced that from then on all men would be given the name Singh (meaning lion) to represent courage, and all women would be given the name Kaur (meaning princess) to represent dignity.
On the Thursday evening before Easter Day, the church bells in France fall silent. Adults tell the children that the bells have flown off to Rome to visit to the Pope and to collect the Easter eggs. The bells remain silent (absent) on Friday and Saturday, and then on Easter Sunday they return to the churches, droppings the eggs off along the way, and ring out over the country. They are known as “Les Cloches Volants” or the flying bells.
One game that is played on this day is to throw and catch a raw egg. If you drop and break your egg you are out, and the winner is the last person left with their egg still intact.
As Poisson d’avril is so close to Easter, chocolate fish as well as chocolate eggs are included in the sweet treats at his time.
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Different regions of Switzerland have different traditions, for example in one region in the south of Switzerland they perform a passion play on the Thursday before Easter Day. In another region, in the west of the country there is a “weeping women parade” where the women carry red cushions with nails and a crown of thorns.
It is the cuckoo who brings the Easter eggs in Switzerland, and so in the run up to the festival, the shops have displays of baskets of eggs and cuckoos.
Easter Day itself begins with an Easter egg hunt for children, with a prize for the person who finds the most eggs.
Easter Monday brings another game: the adults have to try to break the children’s decorated eggs with a 20 cent coin. If they succeed, they get to keep the egg and the money, but if they lose the child gets the 20 cents.
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As with many things in Germany, different regions have different traditions for Easter. In some regions it’s the Easter fox who delivers the chocolate eggs; in others it’s the Easter rooster or the Easter stork. However the Österhase (the Easter hare or Easter bunny) is slowly taking over all of the regions.
In the north of the country, fires are lit to celebrate the end of the cold winter months and to welcome spring. They are lit on the Saturday night and kept burning until the Sunday morning. This stems from a Pagan tradition which was believed to keep away sickness.
Another Germany Easter tradition is the Easter egg tree. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a tree with decorated eggs hanging from it. Sometimes, rather than decorating a whole tree, a twig in a vase is used.
A typical Easter meal would be a lamb dish, followed by a cream-filled cake in the shape of lamb.
Related posts: Easter in England, Easter in France, Easter in Switzerland