Yesterday there was blue sky and sun on the mountain peaks. I decided that I wanted to actually see the sun, so I got in my car and drove over the mountains to the southern end of Eysturoy, where the sun was shining. The Skálafjørður Bay is the longest fjørd in the Faroes, and it nearly splits the island of Eysturoy in half, running from south to north.
Christmas celebrations are just about over in the Faroe Islands. I celebrated Christmas Eve with Poul Jacob’ s family, Christmas Day with Gunnleyg’s family, and then Christmas night with her nephews, to whom I’m not really related, and then the second Christmas day I had dinner with Poul Jacob’s family.
There are some things that are pretty much the same about Christmas celebrations at home and here in the Faroes. For one, the children get quite a pile of gifts in both places. Also, there is enough food served to last a week, but everyone sits around the table eating until it is nearly gone. Then we have dessert. The after dinner nap is also an important part of the celebration.
Christmas seems to be a time for families to get together in the Faroes, and I was fortunate to be included in a number of family celebrations. I noted that the family from Germany who is living in my home in America for a year were included in Christmas celebrations with my relatives there.
My church at home has two special services on Christmas Eve, and they are both usually quite crowded, with people standing or sitting on the floor. In the Fuglafjørður church, the Christmas Eve service was absolutely packed, with chairs set up in an overflow room and around the front of the church. I think that may be the only time some people go to church. Then there were also two services on Christmas Day and one on the second Christmas Day. My church at home doesn’t normally have a church service on Christmas Day, but since Christmas was on Sunday, they just had the regular service. We don’t celebrate the second Christmas day in America. That is typically the day when everyone goes to the stores to exchange Christmas gifts, which isn’t much of a religious celebration.
It seems to me that many Faroese celebrations seem to last until the early hours of the following morning. I wonder if that is because families live closer together and don’t have to travel quite as far as we do in America. At home I would normally have a two or three hour drive home from my brother’s or my sister’s house, and the same from my late husband’s family’s home – and that is only if there isn’t a traffic jam or an accident blocking the highway.
One of the biggest differences in the celebrations is in the menu. Here we ate goose, duck, lamb (twice), pickled fish, shrimp, dried leg of lamb (skerpikjøt), half dried half rotten lamb (ræstkjøt), and lots of boiled potatoes. At home we often have turkey, ham, or roast beef – and sometimes even lamb, and the potatoes are mashed and served with gravy. What I miss most is the fresh vegetables, a large salad with twenty different kinds of vegetables and fruit.
I woke up this morning to blue skies and still bay waters. To be honest, I’m glad it isn’t a white Christmas, because I still find it difficult to get around in the white stuff, either on foot or by car. The sun and the still waters created interesting reflections of my mountains, so here are a few more pictures. I even climbed over the gate in my yard, to get down by the water.
Today is shortest day of the year. I will be glad to have the days start getting a little longer. I confess that I have a hard time getting up in the morning when it is so dark and cold. Of course, this could also be because I have retired and I don’t need to get up and go to work. Since we had a bit of sun, I took a few pictures, though they are very similar to ones I have already shown you.
I finished my second knitting project of the year, and now I have two socks that are very nearly the same size. I think I will save them to wear for Christmas. Here, we celebrate Christmas for three days in a row, December 24, 25, and 26. I am planning to open gifts from my children on the 23rd during a Skype conference call, so I guess I will get an extra day of Christmas.
Today a Christmas gift arrived in the mail with a notice that I owed duty on the package. Amazingly, when I told the clerk at the post office that this was a gift, she was able to get the duty charge cancelled. I wonder if something like this would happen in the U.S., or is it just a Faroese phenomenon.
On Saturday some of my relatives celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary with a party for more than 300 guests. This party was much more elaborate than anything I have been to in the U.S. The dinner, with several courses, was served family style, and the meal was interspersed with many speeches and many songs. We all sang songs from book of music made just for the occasion, and several people wrote special songs for the occasion that we all sang. Since the speeches were in Faroese, I couldn’t understand much at all, but later I heard some of the stories that people told about the anniversary couple.
After dinner was over, at about midnight, some of the tables were cleared, and we danced the traditional Faroese chain dance and sang the Bridal Ballad and other ballads, as well. After the Faroese chain dance, a small band played dance music for the rest of the night. During the night, dessert and drinks were served in the other room, and at about 4 a.m. breakfast was served. When I left, at about 4:30 or 5:00, the party was just starting to slow down.
Considering that I am a newcomer to the Faroes, I knew quite a few of the guests – many relatives and others from businesses in the town. Many of the guests came in colorful native Faroese dress.
Yesterday I drove to Runavík and bought myself a new thermometer. It has a remote sensor that you can put outside, as well as an indoor sensor. I put the outdoor sensor in my mailbox by the front door. A new storm came up last night, and we have had snow and wind. It has been below freezing inside my mailbox all day.
Today is the last day of school before the Christmas break, when the schools close for two weeks.
Once in a while, I completely miss some important information because I don’t understand the language. Tonight I went to choir rehearsal at 6:30 and found the rest of the choir in black concert dress. The date of our concert was changed from Thursday to Tuesday, and somehow I missed getting that information. I quickly drove home and changed out of my grubby clothes into something nicer. If you were planning to go to the concert on Thursday, don’t bother. You missed it. Three groups performed in the Fuglafjørður church tonight, the Gøta/Leirvík choir, the Fuglafjørður choir, and the Fuglafjørður brass band. It was interesting to note that, as a foreigner from America, I was related to about fifteen people in the three groups.
This was a busy weekend with choir concerts in three different cities. I have been rehearsing with the Gøta/Leirvík choir once a week for the past couple of months. We joined with two other choirs, one from Vestmanna and one from Tórshavn, for joint concerts in the three cities, accompanied by the orchestra from the Tórshavn High School Music School. Each choir performed two of their own numbers, then the combined choirs with the orchestra performed the rest of the program. Part of the music was in English and part was in Faroese. There are several Christmas carols that are going through my head in Faroese now, such as “Hoyr Guðs Einglar Syngja Hátt” (Hark the Herald Angels Sing). It was a special treat to have Eivør Pálsdóttir join us for several numbers, and I saw quite a few people wipe tears from their eyes following her new song Jólanátt (Christmas Night). I was also very impressed with the performance of the school orchestra, woodwinds and brass, with students as young as 11 or 12 up through high school, with a few adult volunteers joining them.
It is an hour’s drive to Vestmanna and an hour’s drive to Tórshavn, so an important part of a concert like these is the coffee, either before or after the performance (or both). Each choir hosted a meal or refreshments of some kind after the concert. I couldn’t take pictures of the performances, since I was in them, but I did get a few pictures of the refreshments. It was an especially long trip returning from Vestmanna, because of road construction on the tunnel. There is a bridge joining the two islands of Eysturoy (where I live) and Streymoy (where Vestmanna and Tórshavn are located). A short distance up the hill from the bridge is a tunnel that provides access to most of Eysturoy – the central and southern parts. The tunnel is closed 5 nights a week, beginning at 8 p.m., for construction and repairs. It opens briefly to let traffic through at 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. (and some time later, but I don’t have personal experience). When we got to the tunnel at about 11:30 p.m., the cars in front of us and the cars behind us all belonged to people from our choir, waiting to get through the tunnel to go home. There is a long alternate route to drive north through winding mountainous passes, but we decided not to do it in winter weather. The Gøta/Leirvík choir has one more concert on Thursday, when we will have a joint concert in the Fuglafjørður church with the Fuglafjørður brass band.
I have really enjoyed singing in the choir. It is amazing to me how universal the music is and how easily the language barrier is crossed with music.
There are quite a few salmon fisheries at the southern end of the Fuglafjørður bay. During the day I see a small boat going back and forth almost constantly between the fisheries and the small dock near my house. My guess is that they are monitoring the feeding of the salmon.
Thursday morning there was a bit on sun on the mountains, so here are some more sunrise pictures. I have to be quick in taking these pictures, because there isn’t much time between sunrise and sunset these days.
A new stone wall is in the process of being built just up the street from my house. A man from Vestmanna is building it, and he has been working on it for several months. Today a dump truck was putting rocks between the wall and the hill behind it.
This afternoon I noticed some blue sky, so I quickly got out my camera. The pictures that look like sunset were taken at about 2:00 p.m.