Saturday, May 12, 2012

BIG DAY! Maggie's Confirmation

Today was Maggie's confirmation. This is a very big deal in Norway, it is the major rite-of-passage for young adults in Norway and one of THE major life events for families, as important as weddings. Family members travel from all over to join together to celebrate the confirmation of 14 year-olds with a ceremony, presents, meals, a big party and presents. A comparable event in the United States might be high school graduation. We've heard stories of family saving money for years for the event, or planning house remodeling around the confirmation event to be sure to have space for the party.

Nearly every 14-year old in Norway participates in one of two versions of confirmation. There is the traditional religious confirmation, or there is the Humanistic confirmation, a non-religious version which focuses on ethics and morality. The two groups have about the same number of participants.

Maggie began taking courses back in January. Every week, she'd meet for two hours with a group of 12 kids her age (including a few friends from school) and a leader to openly discuss deep and important issues. They finished courses a few weeks ago and last weekend and this weekend confirmation ceremonies and parties have been happening.

Maggie's ceremony started at 10 a.m. A few minutes before we left, Maggie's friend and neighbor Frøy popped over to show off her new bunad. The bunad is the national costume of Norway, a very fancy suit or dress that is worn for special occasions like weddings, the 17th of May and confirmations. Girls usually get their bunads at age 14 for their confirmations. The dresses are made with many buttons to be adjustable throughout the life of the wearer. Boys usually don't get bunads until late teens or early 20s when they are done growing. Frøy's mother made her bunad by hand, a beautiful piece of work with a lot of silver decorations.

We delivered Maggie in good time to Olavshallen, the big music auditorium in downtown. We found our seats. We sat in the high-up seats on the side, in our own section. It was an awesome vantage point for the show. About 70 kids entered to a symphony playing on back of the stage.

There was a couple of speeches and an acapello singing of Nordahl Grieg's "Til Ungdommen" ("To Youth"). This sound was particularly stirring because it became a theme song to remember the Utøya tragedy last year. There were many wet eyes in the auditorium during this song, and it was a particularly beautiful rendition. (song link: If you want to read the lyrics in English and find out some more about this important song, here's a good link:

 The kids then got their diplomas and a flower, and then there was some more songs and speeches and before we were released. We saw lots of families we knew in the lobby as we collected our children, and met lots of relatives of our friends who had come from all over.

Maggie and Frøy are unicorns
Maggie's dipoloma
Maggie with friends Marcus, Frøy and Erik
Afterwards, we headed home to open presents and have lunch, Maggie's favorite: baby back ribs. We also cooked up onion rings, mozarella sticks, and jalepeno poppers. Truly not very Norwegian (in fact, very very American!), but neither did we have relatives traveling in from all over Norway.

We visited with our neighbors in the afternoon, joining their party of 19 for cake and coffee. In the evening we had our own cake.

Maggie was very satisfied with the day, as were we all. Congratulations Maggie! In Norwegian culture, you are now a young woman.

1 comment:

  1. Looking for confirmation song (Konfirmasjonssanger) for wedding? We have confirmation songs for every occasion.