Barneblad: The season of høst, autumn, or fall

A mural depicting root vegetables.

Heidi Håvan Grosch
Sparbu, Norway

In American English this time of year is called fall. In British English it is called autumn. In Norwegian it is called høst.

This season was originally just called harvest, because it was the time to bring in the crops. The word harvest actually comes from an old Norwegian word, haust, which means to gather or pick. The word in modern Norwegian (bokmål) is actually høst, which means to harvest. Aren’t words funny?

When people started to move to the cities in the 1600s, harvesting wasn’t as important as watching the fall of the leaf, as the season was later called. Can you imagine telling someone that you are starting school in the fall of the leaf? That name quickly was shortened to fall.

Autumn is also a very old word for this season, but no one really knows where it came from. There are many words that sound like it, like the Old French word autumpne. No matter what it is called, it is the time to pick apples, enjoy the colors on the trees, and look for your winter hats and mittens if you live in the north.

Høst is also the time to harvest many kinds of root vegetables, or vegetables that grow in the ground. Can you guess what these vegetables are called in English? (answer key below)

A song
In the last Barneblad, you read a bit about the song Fader Jakob (Frère Jacques). Do you know there are words about høsten (the fall) that use that same melody?

Høsten kommer, adjø sommer
Takk til sol; takk til lys.
Hør nå tuter vinden,
stryker deg om kinnet.
Det er høst, det er høst.

Fall is coming, goodbye summer.
Thank you sun; thank you light.
Now the wind is howling,
hitting you in the face.
Now it’s fall, now it’s fall.

The English translation isn’t exactly word for word the same as the Norwegian verse. Sometimes you need to think about the meaning of something and not just the words. A literal translation of the lines “hør nå tuter vinden, stryker deg om kinnet” would be “listen to the tooting (or farting) wind, striking you (or ironing you) on the chin.” That sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it?

Thorbjørn Egner
There is a children’s song about grønnsaker (vegetables) written by Thorbjørn Egner. You can watch a video of it at, or get the words atønnsakspisersang/163/1464.

Karius og Baktus book cover

Thorbjørn Egner was a very famous children’s author, songwriter, and illustrator for children. Some of his most famous books include Karius og Baktus (1949), Klatremus og de andre dyrene i Hakkebakkeskogen (1953) and Folk og røvere i Kardemommeby (1955). If you go to the publisher, Cappelen Damm, you can find these books in English (ørn-egner-9788202182922). Some of them have even been made into musicals!

Key to vegetable matching game:
Gulrot = Carrot
Kålrot = Rutabaga
Rødbeter = Red Beets
Løk = Onion
Potet = Potato
Søtpotet = Sweet Potato

This article is a part of Barneblad, a monthly feature by Heidi Håvan Grosch to share with kids and grandkids.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 22, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.