Saturday, 31 December 2016
King Harald of Norway New Years Eve Address - English translation (2016)
In summer we had a very special tree in Slottsparken [Palace Park]. We called it Ønsketreet [Wishing Tree]. People who visited the park were invited to hang their hopes and wishes for Norway and the world.
Throughout the summer people's wishes flickered in the wind. More and more people and wishes came. The branches of the old tree hung heavy with the hopes of children and adults, young and old, Norwegians and foreign tourists.
For me, it was nice to see that many of the People's wishes were the same as my own hopes and wishes for our country and the future.
2016 was an eventful year filled with much gratitude for us. On the occasion of our 25th anniversary as a royal couple, The Queen and I experienced Norwegian hospitality and warmth at its best - through meetings with people on our anniversary trip along the coast, and on the many garden parties held. We want to thank you warmly for all the great memories that were created through this special year. One of my greatest wish is that we will continue to meet in freedom, without fear and barriers, and without fences that creates distance. It is one of the most important values in Norway, open societies.
On one of the wishes a child had written to Ønsketreet:
"I want everyone be a little kinder to Themselves."
I think that was a wise desire. Many feel such great demands on them, that they are mentally and physically exhausted. But my impression is that many of the demands are made by ourselves. We exhaust ourselves simply by thinking that we are inadequate.
One of the most important is to feel like you have a purpose, feel useful, to accomplish a good day's work. Many of those who stand outside the labor market, know this feeling.
This year, we marked the 50th anniversary of the discovery of oil on the Norwegian Continental Shelf - with all the wealth it has created for Norway. Meanwhile, many in this industry have just lost their job.
I'm impressed with all the will of creativity and change that I've seen and heard about this year.
One of my wish is that we will be able to see and embrace all the human talent in our country. Everyone should feel like they can help and be recognized as useful - regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or disability.
Another wish on the tree was written by a girl and a boy together.
"I wish that we make it safe for women to live in Norway - and that we must ask about this several times," it said.
Our community should be safe for everyone. Specifically, we must work to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected best. In 2015, the world leaders adopted the new sustainability goals for creating a better world [UN's 2030 Agenda]. One of the goals is about combating violence against women and children. In this area, Norway has acknowledged that we must make an extra effort in our own country. If we are to create a safe society for all, it is important that it gets put into words what is happening, and that those who are able to help, is wise listeners with strong vigor.
In Oppland County had 4 to 7. wishes because the schools have a mission where they should write a letter to the King, which I later read. A girl had written in his letter to me: "It is important to keep the traditions of old, so they are not packaged together and placed in a dusty drawer."
A tree is a nice picture of this. The roots are heritage and traditions. The tree above ground constantly exposed to influences that require maintenance throughout the changing seasons and life stages. As long as the tree lives, dig roots slowly deeper and deeper.
In Norway, many traditions, both religiously and culturally determined. Several of them are linked to the Christmas holidays we have just celebrated. From tomorrow - 1st January 2017 - the Church formally separated from the state. Simultaneously we mark that it is 500 years since the Reformation, which had great significance for the whole society. It is important to be roots conscious - and give new generations the opportunity to understand the references in our culture. This concerns both the history, religious traditions and narratives, myths, fairy tales, music and visual arts.
In any culture, in any country, being aware of this heritage helps to make us more whole as human beings. There is a wealth that helps us to know that we belong to a place and do not live in a vacuum. That we have been influenced and inspired by the same sources that people who have lived before us.
We experienced this when we last invited to multi-religious feast at the Palace. When we shared thoughts, cultural expressions and food from various treasure chest, we came closer together and understand each other better.
It is my hope that we are also in a time of ever new impulses gives space to go into our own treasury and make the content live, for ourselves and each other. My experience is that by standing confident in awareness of their own heritage, one can easily meet others with an open mind.
The Queen and I was reminded of our anchor during the anniversary church service in the cathedral on June 23 - which marked 25 years ago that we were blessed there. To have God's blessing on us - and getting kneel where both my father and grandfather had previously received the same blessing, perceived as a major force.
Youth expressed that they want stability, presence, calm and good conversation. It has always been challenging to be youth. But I sincerely feel the youth of today who are facing so many more choices and so much more external influence and pressure than was the case for only one or two generations ago.
In the midst of this I am deeply impressed by many young people. You are role models for us seniors who have failed to engage enough in topics such as the environment and wealth distribution. Many of the patches on Ønsketreet - especially the youngest - express hope for less litter and better climate. The social consciousness and conscience I meet with many of you who are young today, makes me very optimistic about the future.
One of the finest wishes I have heard expressed throughout the past year, came from a police officer who works with youth in trouble. The conversation between him and one of the youths was rendered in Dagsrevyen fall. When the young boy thought the policeman only dreamed when he thought a change for him and his friends, the policeman answered:
"Maybe. But my dream starts with you," then the boy was silent.
My dream for you.
If we have good dreams for each other, if we want each other well - then much magic happen. It's good for us to ensure that others can thrive. Both in the community, in Norway and as world citizens. A special thanks tonight I would inform all of you that are in service outside the country - and who might miss family and close friends especially tonight.
Thank you for the efforts you make through diplomacy and humanitarian organizations, the police and defense - for peace, stability, health and safety for fellowmen.
The Queen and I turn 80 this year . For us it's a little unreal. Like so many older people before us have said, one rarely feels as old as the number indicates. It gives us great pleasure to meet so many people who make an impression on us, giving us new ideas, which gives us the image of the new Norway - with its opportunities and challenges. People we hope and believe in will be able to build the country further on values such as trust, fellowship and generosity. People that will characterize our society with its great effort and great knowledge.
Life has taught me that it is most important to us to not change very much over time. We need someone who cares about us. We need that there is use for us. We need to be seen - and recognized - for who we are. We need that someone has the time to listen and be present. We need to know that we are here for something and someone beyond ourselves.
Therefore I am glad that this tag fluttered the tip of a branch on Ønsketreet:
"I want a Norway which is rich in its diversity, with the ability to love their neighbor, where one can get to be who you are. A country with real freedom! "
In the new year I hope Norway, Europe and the world can be characterized by this:
That we who share this earth recognizes that we are primarily fellowmen.
That we can collectively decide to work for a healthier world.
Choosing to fight evil with good.
And from Ønsketreet Slottsparken comes a very last hope:
"That all the wishes on the tree must come true."
Happy New Year!
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