8 Hours of Wood Burning Enthralls 20% of Norway

Primetime TV special also included 4 hours of wood chopping

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 20, 2013 11:05 AM CST | Updated Feb 24, 2013 7:00 PM CST

(Newser) – Only in Norway: A primetime TV program featuring four hours of people chopping wood, then eight hours of that wood burning in a fireplace ran this month ... and 20% of the population watched some part of it. Not only that, but the program, called National Firewood Night, inspired quite a bit of controversy: "We received about 60 text messages from people complaining about the stacking in the program," author Lars Mytting tells the New York Times. "Fifty percent complained that the bark was facing up, and the rest complained that the bark was facing down. One thing that really divides Norway is bark."

Mytting's best-selling book, Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood—and the Soul of Wood-Burning, inspired the program. "Firewood is the foundation of our lives," explained the show's host; 1.2 million households in the country have fireplaces or wood stoves. And lest you think the wood-burning portion of the program was anything like a TV Yule Log, think again: The fire burned live, rather than on a repeating loop, and the wood was continually replenished (with help from viewers, who sent in recommendations for where new wood should be placed). "I couldn’t go to bed because I was so excited," said one viewer, who insisted she wasn't being ironic. Stephen Colbert had some fun with the program, joking that it "destroyed the other top Norwegian shows like So You Think You Can Watch Paint Dry and The Amazing Glacier Race."

A compelling fireplace.
A compelling fireplace.   (?)
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Stephen Colbert on "National Firewood Night."   (Comedy Central)

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I couldn’t go to bed because I was so excited. When will they add new logs? Just before I managed to tear myself away, they must have opened the flue a little, because just then the flames shot a little higher. I’m not being ironic. - niesa36, viewer

What I’ve learned is that you should not ask a Norwegian what he likes about firewood, but how he does it—because that’s the way he reveals himself. You can tell a lot about a person from his firewood stack. - Lars Mytting

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