Fate makes me start my Norwegian journey on the 21st of December, exactly 4 years ago. My first day at work in Oslo was also the shortest day of the year (or the longest night, depending on where you stand).
As my colleague shows me my new office, she stands by the window and says, almost surprised “oh look, it’s already dark outside!”. “What do you mean by “dark outside?” “Like NIGHT?”. I look at my watch, then at the window, then at my watch again. This is not an error: it’s only 2.30pm and the pitch-dark night has covered Oslo already.
This is not starting too well.
“Don’t worry this is the shortest day of the year, says my colleague, it can only get better from here”. Oh wow, that made me feel much better. Just until I found myself in the hotel room they had rented out for me for the 2 nights before the Christmas holiday. Alone in an over-priced and under-dimensioned hotel room, staring at the snow falling in the night at only 4.30pm. Oh god what did I just sign up for.
The night lasted until the next morning, or should I say lunch? Well it was 10 am, that seems pretty late to me to see the first ray of light. There is a kind of euphoria in the office. Just two days before Christmas, all the Norwegian people I meet seem quite jolly and friendly. All of them walk around saying “goooyuul” in a singing and happy voice. “Gooyuul, gooyuul!” says anyone coming in or out of the office. It reminds me of “The Sound of Music” transfered to an office setting: smiling faces, happy people, singing, dressed in green and red tights. Okay maybe my colleagues’ didn’t all wear tights, but I am sure one or two did. It is just that compared to the atmosphere in a French office this is much more welcoming.
And yes, you got it, it means “Merry Christmas”. And as strange as it may seem, the sound “gooyuuul” is actually made of two words “god” (pronounce “goou”) and “jul” (pronounce “yuul”). You got it, learning the Viking dialect starts right now.