Nobel Day = 10 December
Nobel Day is a big deal in Sweden. Elizabeth's teacher sent home a message: "Also a friendly reminder folks; tomorrow is Nobel Lunch day during cafeteria. the children should dress semi formal but not over the top." What?!! Apparently schools around the country offer a very formal lunch that day- complete with set tables, special food, and pomp and circumstance.
On our end, the Fulbright Commission staff-- Eric, Monica, and Maria-- had told us months ago to reserve this day and evening on the hopes that they could get tickets to the awards ceremony (but no chance for the dinner). They didn't want to get us too excited, but in October, they let us know that it looked likely that we'd be able to attend-- enough Americans had received prizes that having Americans in the audience would be a good thing.
Problem is that the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony has a dress code: evening gowns for women and tails for men (or one's country's clothes). Turns out that if you are in our category (high in the balcony, not attending the formal dinner), a tuxedo was also enough (and maybe okay if you had a full black suit). We both have fancy clothes, but they were stashed in our attic in State College, PA. I contacted Nancy, our realtor, the only person with keys to the attic- she went sleuthing. Pants. Jacket. Dress shirt. Cummerbund. Ties. Cuff Links. Dress. Scarf. Fancy shoes for both. Bagged and dropped off with Wes, a colleague who then brought them to me in Arizona where we both attended a project meeting. Operation fancy clothes = complete. When Chris told his colleagues at Stockholm University that he was attending the ceremony, they were quite sure that a tux was not enough... tails were needed.
Fast forward: we were notified that yes, indeed, we were going to attend the ceremony. The event overlapped with when my mom is visiting, so we even had some back up for the kids. I double checked the clothes- what we had would suffice.
Day of the ceremony, the Fulbright Commission organized a couple of events before the ceremony. My mom came with on the day's events- spectacular day of just a bit of snow (finally- refreshingly beautiful after days of rains). Blue sky and white everywhere- Stockholm was spectacular.
Given the snow, the sidewalks were slippery, especially in dress shoes. We had a large group- more than 30 with the various Fulbright scholars (professors), students, and Swedish Fulbright winners headed to the U.S. next year, along with assorted officials from the U.S. Embassy, Fulbright Commission Board, and Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Quite the assemblage!
As we navigated the sidewalks towards Konserthuset for the awards ceremony, I realized the street was shut down and heavy with police presence. Onlookers turned into crowds turned into cordoned off sidewalks patrolled by police... such a strange feeling to show someone a card and be waved through when others couldn't pass. There were a few with protest signs- controversy over the 2019 literature prize to Peter Handke (more on this below).
The front of the Konserthuset was draped in lights. People were streaming into the theater from taxis and more, now more crowds outside the lines. We really didn't know what to expect, but showed our invitations (and our ids) to get in, navigated up to the cloak room, and donned fancier shoes and dropped coats. Into our seats- high on a balcony well above everything. As Chris noted, we were closer to the ceiling than the stage- but a spectacular view (and a nice post) for sure.
Outside, and inside (a few prominent seats empty just yet....)
View of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and awesome opera singer:
After a bit, the grand entrance: in came King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, and her husband- all stood for a special song sung to the King. According to the Swedish member of the foreign ministry sitting next to me, a song not sung that often. Nice to have someone able to sing it right near me! The close up to the right is from the Fulbright Commission.