Things can be extremely seasonal in Norway, sometimes to the point of comical, as my grandma noted when she discovered that house slippers are sold only at Christmas time. That was then; now, slippers are sold all year round. However, don’t expect to find bathrobes in any other month than December.
And so it is with confirmation. You find the pre-printed invitations, his or her decorations, and greeting cards for the confirmating teen only in spring, even though some kids have their ceremony in the fall. A few hectic weekends at the end of April and beginning of May see churches stuffed to the rafters as young teens renew their pledge to their faith.
This year there is a confirmation in the family, as it were. Torleif’s youngest will be dressed in a gown, wearing a nice suit and tie underneath, receiving his blessing in the old church in Os. Today I shopped for a card for him and discovered that the four choices of my youth (two for her and two for him; never is gender differentiation greater than at confirmation) has grown into four whole racks of cards, two of which you see on the photo.
Some kids take the religious aspect seriously; most want the party and the gifts, which is usually cash – ever increasing amounts of it. Most are also sensible about what they want the money for (education, a driver’s license, a trip, a savings account). And for those who want the rite but not the religion, there is a now a secular ceremony which is gaining popularity. After the ceremony, family gathers (friends don’t because they have their own confirmation party) for food and gift-giving, usually accompanied by childhood photos of the guest of honor, and the telling of anecdotes and singing of home-made songs, all intended to both honor and somewhat embarrass the budding adult, who is usually overwhelmed into silence.
It’s a rite of passage I never went through myself, not knowing if I was baptized or not, and certainly not interested in the teachings of the church. But I enjoy watching the kids I know make this first big decision in their life, and with the party, move officially into the realm of adulthood by sitting at the grown-up table.