Once upon a time, a new neighbor walked across the street to introduce herself when she saw me knitting on the front porch. I was working on a “traditional Norwegian pattern,” and she asked if I was “of Scandinavian descent.” Uh oh.
To make a long story short, she insisted on both summarizing four generations of family history (rooted way back in Norway) and showing me her collection of what she described as Norwegian folk art. On one wall she had several pieces of rosemåling (decorative floral painting) on wooden plates as well as several bright red wooden hearts. Each heart had a phrase painted on it: “God Jul” (Merry Christmas), “Velkommen” (Welcome) and “God Påske” (Happy Easter).
Pointing to the hearts, she said, “You’ve probably seen lots of these, haven’t you?”
Yes, I’ve seen a lot of red wood hearts with sayings on them and many hearts on doors – but only on the doors of outhouses or bathrooms – certainly never hanging proudly (and openly) on a dining room wall. And the hearts never had welcoming messages or holiday greetings written on them!
On the right is a picture of a heart decoratively positioned on a door of a building in Norway.
But note this building is an outhouse.
Growing up in the U.S., our bathroom always had a wooden red heart hanging from the door. I don’t remember exactly what was written on the heart but it was some saying about det grønne grasset (the green grass) never growing as well as behind [the bathroom].
Here is the red heart hanging from the one of the bathroom doors in my daughter’s house. (She took it with her when she moved out.) It reads: “There is no way around.” 🙂
Now, back to my garrulous neighbor. It turns out she also liked to knit and was proud to show me her most recent project – the first sweater she designed herself. The knitting was neat, and her tension looked good (straight stitch). In the middle of the front of the sweater she had designed a big red heart with the word “uff” in the middle. Uff (which translates to “ugh”) is something I heard from my mother when she was exasperated and/or disgusted, as in “Uff, Karen, what were you thinking?” I can’t imagine knitting that into a sweater.
I didn’t have the heart to tell her about the hearts. 🙂