13 Sep 2018 Sweet Stories from Abroad
Whenever I travel, I love to learn about the people and culture of the destination, but my favorite part is hearing the sweet stories from the locals. On my recent trip to the Northern Isles, I was blessed by an abundance of such stories.
Check out these sweet tales from abroad.
FROM SCOTLAND –
WE LOVE NESSIE – Several years ago, a triathlon was held in Inverness, Scotland, and the athletes swam in Loch Ness, where Nessie, “the sea monster,” supposedly resides. A British insurance company, which insured the athletes, included a policy clause that the athletes had to be insured for bites by Nessie. The “We Love Nessie Society” was outraged. They declared, “Nessie would never bite anyone!”
THE SHETLAND BUS – A Skalloway Museum exhibit shows that the Scots sent arms and other provisions by ships and submarines (the Shetland Bus) to help the Norwegian Resistance fight the Nazis. Norway was neutral, but the Nazis occupied, so Norwegians fought for their freedom and won!
The exhibit also features this inspiring quote by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
“If there is anyone who wonders why this war is still being fought, let him look to Norway.
If there is anyone who has any delusions that this war could’ve been averted, let him look to Norway;
and if there is anyone who doubts the democratic will to win, again I say, let him look to Norway.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, September 1942
The Nazis shot one of my Norwegian relatives who fought in the Resistance, so I shed a few tears thinking of my family and others who risked their lives for freedom.
FROM ICELAND –
HEART-SHAPED STOPLIGHTS – After the financial crash of 2008, the city of Akureyri changed the red circles on its stoplights to red and yellow hearts to bring joy to its people.
BABIES NAP OUTSIDE – In Iceland, mothers often leave their babies outside to nap, even in freezing temperatures. They believe that the fresh air strengthens the infant’s immune system. Thus, babies sleep outside in strollers on balconies and in front of cafés.
Icelanders live to an average age of 82, over 10 years longer than the global average, thus, perhaps there is some wisdom to this practice.
Mothers from other Nordic countries also have their babies nap outside. My Norwegian grandmother slept with her bedroom window open no matter what the weather. I never understood how or why she could sleep with an open window in freezing weather, but now I know. She must’ve slept outside as a baby in Norway, gotten used to the cold, and built up a strong immune system. She died at 97 of old age rather than a dreadful malady.
GODAFOSS – WATERFALL OF THE GODS – This thunderous waterfall got its name in the year 1000, when Thorgeir Thorkelsson, a pagan priest, chieftain, and Speaker of the Icelandic Parliament, threw his heathen gods into the waterfall as a symbolic act of conversion to Christianity. Since then, the waterfall has been called Godafoss – Waterfall of the Gods.
During that year, Iceland’s legislative assembly debated whether they should practice Norse paganism or Christianity. Thorgeir chose Christianity after a day meditating under a fur blanket!
ROCKS AND POTATOES – Per our guide in Isafjordur, British started fishing in Icelandic waters in the 1950s, which set off the first of three Cod Fish Wars over fishing rights in the North Atlantic. Iceland had few weapons to employ because it did not have a military, and it had very few police due to its low-crime rate. (This is still true today!) Thus, Icelanders used rocks and potatoes to fight off the British. They first threw rocks at the fisherman which hurt, frustrated, and humiliated them. The British threw the rocks back at the Icelanders, but it didn’t hurt them much because they wore thick, protective clothing.
The Icelanders then threw potatoes at them, and when the potatoes landed in the fishing nets with the cod and the British fisherman saw the cod with the potatoes, it reminded them of fish and chips, which they missed, so they returned to Britain.
Official records show a longer and more violent tale, though, such as Icelandic ships cutting nets on British trawlers, and Royal Navy vessels ramming Icelandic boats. The wars ended in 1976 with Iceland being victorious.
SUN PANCAKES – After the long, dark winters, Icelanders eat sun pancakes to celebrate the sun’s return in late January. The pancakes are like thin crepes filled with jam. In Reykjavik, festivities take place in the biggest nightclub. After dinner and live music, the evening’s highlight is eating pancakes!
FROM THE FAROE ISLANDS –
FUN FAROE FACTS – The Faroe Islands have 49,520 people and 50,000 sheep! They also have 10% more puffins than people!
The weather changes so often in the Faroe Islands that locals say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” This was true on my visit because the weather changed quickly from cloudy to sunny to cloudy again.
FROM DENMARK –
DRAGOR FISHING VILLAGE – WARTIME KINDNESS – The Nazis occupied Denmark from 1940-45 during World War II. To help save their countrymen, Danes evacuated Jews from the Dragor Harbor and took them to neutral Sweden. Thanks to the evacuation, only 400 of the 7000 Danish Jews went to camps, and 52 died. Kind neighbors took care of the Jews’ homes while they were gone, such as watering their plants. It was also admirable of Sweden to take in all the Jewish refugees during the war.
The boat, Elizabeth, which transported Jews to Sweden still stands in the Dragor Harbor—an important symbol of the willingness to help those in need.
DANES LOVE THEIR QUEEN – On New Year’s, the queen gives a speech, which is the most watched show all year. Per our guide, Danes wear their finest clothes, stand up to watch her, and drink champagne. She usually scolds them and tells them to do better, and they bow their head and say, “Yes, mum.”
For instance, in 2007, she admonished Danes to remember their responsibilities to each other and their community.
DANISH BIKING HUMOR – Due to the high number of cyclists in Denmark, the Danes joke, “If you ever encounter a true wild animal, it’s going to be a cyclist.”
*Amidst the constant barrage of bad news, I hope these sweet tales renew your spirits and faith in mankind.
Jennifer K. Jordan
For more inspiration, please visit the Inspiring Wisdom Today Blog at www.InspiringWisdomToday.com/blog/.
Photo Credit – Photo of Godafoss Waterfall by Jennifer K. Jordan
https://allthatcooking.com/2014/04/07/icelandic-pancakes-ponnukokur/ Accessed 9/13/18
http://britishseafishing.co.uk/the-cod-wars/ Accessed 8/31/18
http://meetthelocals.is/sun-pancakes/ Accessed 8/31/18
http://www.diamondringroad.com/godafoss.html Accessed 8/30/18
http://meetthelocals.is/sun-pancakes/ Accessed 8/31/18