The year? 1912. The place? A tiny town in Norway called Otta. The event? The sealing of a package labeled “Kan aabnes i 2012," or, “Can open in 2012.”
The year had finally come. Expectations were high. But officials opening Norway's famous mystery package on Friday in conjunction the celebration of the 400th anniversary of a famous battle there found...ah.
Just a few office papers.
It was almost as if the whole thing was a joke, with 1912-era municipality authorities maybe chuckling as they threw together old newspapers, a couple letters from the United States and some financial papers, being like, oh man, they are going to be so disappointed when they see this stuff in a century.
Smithsonian Magazine seemd to be in on the joke, offering a humorous play-by-play of the anticlimatic event:
"12:01 p.m.: As commentators whisper, a murmur falls among the crowd. The lighting dims to a dark blue.
12:03 p.m.: A lady with a tiara is introduced. Lacking an English translation at this moment, we gather she is a princess and most likely very important.
12:05 p.m.: A costumed soloist sings a cappella. The eerie tune may represent the mysterious contents of the package. ...
12:41 p.m.: Crowd is silent; [museum official Kjell] Voldheim reveals that the package is actually a package within a package.
12:42 p.m.: Within the package in a package is a letter wrapped in fabric that reads 'From the King' in Norwegian.
12:45 p.m.: After much shuffling of newspaper clippings, letters, and documents, Voldheim says almost in exasperation: 'Oye yoy yoy.'"
To be fair, the contents are still being analyzed by specialists, but honestly, there was "nothing to justify the extraordinary hype surrounding the event," stated Britain's Independent.
Historians had speculated that the roughly six-pound package contained contents related to Norway's legendary 1612 Battle of Kringen -- which supposedly took place 400 years ago (not 300, Smithsonian!) on Friday.
The event, in which a Norwegian peasant army ambushed Scottish mercenary troops bound for Sweden, has joined the national canon as an iconic testament to the nation's sovereignty and reportedly given rise to the names of several places in the area.
Otta mayor Dag Erik Pryhn had voiced the hopes of many when he said maybe there would be “something sensational" in the package "that will give us a proper "'a-ha' experience," reported the Independent.
Seems history got the last laugh with this one.