Meet the modern Norwegian troll

It’s not only sports teams that have mascots. Cities and countries do too. Last time I was in Washington DC — many years ago — panda statues inhabited many city streets. These were large creations produced from the same mold. A different artist painted each one, which guaranteed that no two pandas looked alike.  At one time, Vancouver B.C. had whales and Seattle featured pigs. My own town decorated with stags. Somewhere I’ve seen cows, but I can’t remember where.

But Norway is the only country I’ve visited that has its own mascot. While it’s true that moose designs appear on nearly every t-shirt and trinket sold to the tourists there, it’s unlikely a tourist will ever run in to a moose on the street, although two fellow travelers did eat a mooseburger at one of our lunch stops.  (As an aside, our guide translated the menu for us and insisted the mooseburger was on it, though my husband and I kept hearing her say elk. We wondered how she could not know the difference between a moose and an elk until she later spelled out the Norwegian word for moose: elg.) Anyway, a moose hardly counts as a Norwegian mascot. It’s better left to Alaska to claim that one.

No. The real symbol for Norway is the troll.  My on-line dictionary says a troll is “a mythical, cave-dwelling being depicted in folklore as either a giant or a dwarf, typically having a very ugly appearance.” They live in caves and rocks, and for all of us who read the folktale of “Three Billy Goats Gruff” as children, we know they also live under bridges. 

Seattle has its own troll of the under-the-bridge type. This is fitting because it’s located not far from a part of town to which many Scandinavians immigrated in the late 1800s.

our troll prize

Although we had no plans to buy a souvenir troll, we won a troll in a contest created by our tour guide to name as many famous Scandinavians as we could.  We managed a fourth-place win despite butchering the spelling of several names and forgetting a few important ones we remembered later.

Another reason trolls are more fit candidates for mascothood than moose is that they are everywhere and they don’t move, so you can take pictures.  I’ve included only part of my collection here. The troll story has been Disneyfied over time.  The troll the three billy goats met threatened to eat them up.  The ones pictured here are all smiles…though on second thought their bellies do look full.







About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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