A newborn, a name and some reflections on the Victory in Europe Day
At the 8th of May, in the very early morning, just as I was in my very deepest sleep I was woken up by a video call from my wife. I was in a total zombie state, my first reaction when looking at the phone was anger - she should know better than waking me up at such an hour in the night! I heard some angry infant sounds at the other end ... and quickly realized the gravity of the situation ... I'm now a father of four!
Photo taken by my wife perhaps one or two hours after birth
There has become a tradition nowadays that when announcing a birth, one always supplies three "vital" parameters - the gender, the birth weight and the birth length. It's a boy. We do consider that the most important thing after getting born is to stay close to the mother and drink milk, not to be weighted and measured like a salmon dragged up from the water. Also the birth was done in her childhood room at her parents apartment, no proper equipment for measuring the weight of a baby there. What we do know is that he was measured to be 3500g some days after birth. His length remains unmeasured, he didn't want to cooperate on that part yet.
My wife chose to give birth in Russia for bureaucrazy (misspelling intended!) reasons - currently that makes it possible for the child to have dual citizenship. Russian citizenship is very important, having to apply for visas to be able to visit the grandparents is a pain ... in addition, Russian citizenship grants rights to free kindergarten, school and medical care in Russia. Earlier we've all gone to St.Petersburg, but now with several children going to different schools plus me having a fixed office job it's just not an option anymore, so the family has been split for a while now. I'm now in Russia for two weeks with my wife, youngest daughter and the newborn, while my older boys are looked after in Oslo by a friend of my wife.
That's the personal update - and then a bit of history. At the late evening at the 8th of May 1945, German troops everywhere officially surrendered, and the day is known as the VE-day, the Victory in Europe day. In Russia, due to their more eastern time zones, the event happened after midnight hence they are celebrating the 9th of May as their Victory day. While the 8th of May is a regular workday in Norway, the 9th is a public holiday in Russia. Norway did not participate much as a fighting nation in WWII, the Germans occupied Norway quite efficiently (with some few setbacks, notably The Battles of Narvik, the sinking of Blücher and the Battle of Midtskogen), hence in the Norwegian vocabulary there is no such thing as a victory day - it's the day of liberation! Personally I think that sounds quite a lot better. The difference between "Victory" and "Defeat" is, after all, just a question of the point-of-view.
So we had a video conference on the 9th of May, my wife celebrating the victory day with her family and friends as I called. Things have been so hectic lately that we still hadn't been discussing names at all. My wife suggested "Sigurd". I do find it a bit radical, it's a very Norwegian name and I would believe it could cause some confusion both in Russia and abroad. However, since the suggestion came from my wife I guess she has considered that it will work out in Russia - and my immediate reaction (possibly reinforced by the fact that I sort of participated in the victory day celebration through the video conference) was that of course, a boy born on the 8th of May should be named Sigurd! It means victory, after all. So Sigurd it is.
I was explaining it for a Polish friend of mine some few days later. Quite immediately after explaining that the name was fitting with the birth date I started reflecting a bit on what the day means for the Polish - Poland came off really bad from WWII, both in the beginning, in the end and the aftermath - perhaps they have a bit more mixed feelings towards the date than we.
Then, on my way to Russia I made a stop in Helsinki and spoke with a Finnish person there and explained again on the name and the date ... just to think "uh-oh". Finland got invaded by the USSR in the end of 1939. It had to cede large parts of land to the USSR, including it's second biggest city, 30% of it's hydropower and quite much of it's most economically and culturally important areas. The loss of land area caused quite some practical problems even for quite some Finns living far away from the ceded areas, as significant parts of the southern Finland lost its shipping routes - the Saimaa Canal system connects quite some big lakes and rivers by the sea, unfortunately the last few kilometers of the channel now goes through Russia. I'm quite sure the Finnish does not quite share the joy of the Russians when the Russians are celebrating their 9th of May Victory day.