Last November, during my first visit to Norway, I observed the lovely practice of bringing plants to everyone.

I suppose in the US there is a practice of showing up at someone’s house with something to offer, whether it be a tray of cookies or something to add to the buffet at a family meal. However, I usually associate these practices with holiday get-togethers (bring gifts or food), parties officially labeled as such (bring a hostess gift), and funerary events (bring food). Maybe we even simply offer to bring something, hoping the hostess says no, or we call on the way and offer to pick up ice. Perhaps a date ought to show up with flowers, but I had not ever thought to bring a plant.

By “plant”, I don’t mean a bouquet. I mean a real plant, in a pot, with dirt.

Here, everywhere sells plants right by the door. The grocery stores, the malls, etc all have stands with plants, just in case you’re off to visit someone for the first time.

 

Amaryllis

Lovely Amaryllis

So, last November, every time we went to someone’s house — whether or not my fiance was related to them, had been to their house before, or was very close with them — we brought a plant with us. It was my first visit, which meant that we must bring a plant. The first visit to his sister’s house, we brought a sprouted Amaryllis bulb in a pot. He was skeptical, as it was rather ugly, but a week later the ugly bulb had grown and blossomed into the red and green delight that Amaryllis is.

 

If we hadn’t brought a plant, I don’t actually know whether we would have been rude or not. The first time my fiance’s parents came over, they brought a beautiful orchid that I transplanted into an Amsterdam beer stein.

 

IMG_8220

Our pretty orchid hanging out with Alexa.

I suppose some people bring wine or some other random gift that they know a person will like. However, who doesn’t like a plant? Bringing a bouquet of flowers eventually creates trash and dishes. Bringing an item may create more clutter in a perhaps already cluttered house. But bringing a plant — a living, organic, growing thing — to someone who lives in a country with winter 40% of the year is really a nice way to say, “Hey, here’s something living when all that’s outside are bare branches, ice, and snow. Here’s a reminder that it won’t be winter forever.”

I do wonder if the Norwegians began giving one another plants for that very reason — to bring a little bit of spring and summer into a frigid (but beautiful) landscape.

 

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