This year’s Ice Hockey World Championships were held in Stockholm and Helsinki (arranged in cooperation by Sweden and Finland).
Those of you who are interested in ice hockey have of course followed the reports from the games, many of you with despair and raised eyebrows. For you who didn’t keep up to date with the news, here’s the final report from the games:
Tre Kronor, the Swedish team, won the gold medals, thoroughly beating Switzerland in the final.
The Swedish Team Tre Kronor a few minutes after the gold was won. Picture from aftonbladet.se
It was the ninth time Tre Kronor won the gold medals. This is how it happened this time:
Russia, last year’s champions, appeared rather washed-out but managed to reach the quarterfinals, where they were eliminated by the US team.
Slovakia was eliminated by Finland. And Czech Republic was beaten by Switzerland. Actually, all of the teams from eastern Europe, usually being hot contenders for the medals, looked rather pale.
Sweden played even with a star-studded Canadian team in the quarterfinals but won in the end by penalties.
After beating Russia, USA was beaten by Switzerland in the semifinals, to many people’s surprise. But Switzerland, which for many years had been in the B-series, surprised everybody this year by winning every match so far. Switzerland had not reached a final for more than 70 years!
In the other semifinal, Sweden won over Finland, thus qualifying to meet Switzerland in the final.
The Swedish team, Tre Kronor, also started out rather pale in the tournament, but gained strength as more and more Swedish NHL and KHL players joined the team. Still, the final game in Stockholm Globe Arena was a nail-biting thriller for two periods: the Swiss put up a hard resistance but were finally beaten by 5-1.
Thus, Switzerland received the silver medals, and USA got the bronze after beating Finland in the match for bronze.
Ice hockey fans giving Tre Kronor a big hand.
As this was written, a couple of hours after the final match, celebrations were ongoing all over Sweden – in Stockholm, people headed for the fountain with the huge glass sculpture on Sergels Torg (Sergel Plaza): celebrating with a bath in the fountain is tradition, but alas – the water hadn’t yet been turned on. Official celebrations will be held Monday afternoon in Kungsträdgården.
Paramount stars in Tre Kronor were (of course) the twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin from Vancouver Canucks. But even if their contribution was important, the win was most of all a team effort.
Other fortunate contributors from NHL were Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado Avalanche), Loui Eriksson (Dallas Stars), Erik Gustafsson (Philadelphia Flyers), Henrik Tallinder (New Jersey Devils), and last but not least the young goalie, Jhonas Enroth from Buffalo Sabres, who founded a world class reputation.
Two players from KHL were also praised: the captain Staffan Kronwall from Lokomotiv Jaroslavl and Fredrik Pettersson from HK Donbass.
The magnificent Alexander Edler from Vancouver Canucks was however unlucky: focusing on the puck instead of where he was heading, he collided with Canada’s Eric Staal in a knee-on-knee hit which was deemed reckless and rendered him suspension for the rest of the games.
The hambo is a traditional dance with origin in the 19th century. It is a couple dance in ¾ time; the music has a strong accent on the first beat and a tempo that varies from moderate to fast (100 to 120 beats per minute).
The hambo is a dance with a fixed pattern and tunes almost always have a corresponding eight measure structure. The name “hambo” is derived from the name of the parish Hanebo, where the dance is said to have originated.
In the province of Hälsingland, about 300 km north of Stockholm, in the parish of Hanebo, lies the small village Hårga at the foot of a steep and rocky mountain, Hårgaberget, i.e. Hårga Hill or Hårga Mountain.
Twenty thousand years ago, the mountain and the entire landscape was covered by a huge continental glacier, which, like glaciers always do, was sliding towards warmer regions, scraping and polishing the bedrock. When the ice, another ten thousand years later, finally receded from the rocky landscape, it left the top of Hårgaberget polished and flat as a tabletop.
This unusually shaped mountain, with its flat top and wide view in all directions, has of course attracted people in all times, and even if there are no signs left on the flat rock face, we can imagine that it has been a place for ceremonies, rituals and celebrations for many thousand years. And there are old legends that talk about bloody sacrifices, of animals, slaves and prisoners.
View from Hårgaberget
But even if the rock face bears no sign, it has made its mark in people’s minds: there is a dark age-old tale about what once happened on the mountain. The first known written version of this tale is dated 1785, written by the then vicar in Hanebo, but the core of the legend is probably much older.
Long time ago, in the evenings of early summer, when haymows and barns were empty, awaiting the upcoming harvest, people used to sweep the barn floors and arrange dancing nights, called logdans (~ haymow dance).
On a Saturday evening many, many years ago, a number of young men and women had gathered for logdans in Hårga. The dancing had been going on for several hours, and the short midsummer night was giving away for the light of dawn.
Suddenly the door opened and an unknown fiddler entered, wearing a long coat and a wide-brimmed hat. He began playing a wild tune that grabbed the dancing youngsters and gave them new force and energy. The fiddler’s eyes were like burning coals under the brim of the hat, and his pointed goatee beard wagged up and down as he played.
Folk dancers Photo by Arne Winderlich
The music went on incessantly, and the dance became wilder than ever. The fiddler led the procession of young dancers out through the neighbourhood, ”out through doors and in through windows”, over hills and meadows, up to Hårgaberget.
It was Sunday morning, and the church bells were ringing, summoning people to church service, but the dancers didn’t hear, couldn’t stop dancing.
Only one person, a girl, heard the bells and threw herself down. Lying on the floor she noticed that the fiddler had cloven hooves under his long coat! She tried to warn the others, but no one listened, and she was left alone lying on the barn floor when the dancers went on dancing up the hill.
Another version of the tale says that a boy, seeing the cloven hoof, tried to stop the happening by hacking his knife into a doorpost – goblins, ghosts and devils are said to be afraid of steel – only to find that his arm, still holding the knife, was torn off.
Contestants in Hälsingehambon Picture from treffpunkt-schweden.com
The dance never stopped. The youngsters kept on dancing on the flat hilltop in Hårga; they wore out not only their shoes, but their feet, the flesh from their bodies, and the bones in their skeletons. In the end, there was nothing left but a number of skulls rattling around in a circle on the flat rock face.
There’s still a circular pattern visible on the mountain top. The tale says that on dark and cloudy Saturday nights you can see shadow-like, restless souls dancing on the flat mountain top.
Hälsingehambon is a Hambo Dancing Contest (claiming to be the Hambo World Championship) which is held in Hårga every year in July.
The tale about dancing with the devil is retold in a song, Hårgalåten (the Hårga tune), which is a hambo. The hambo dance tunes, in ¾ time with a strong accent on the first beat, is rather catching, even to people like me who don’t practise folk dance or aren’t particularly fond of it.
The Hårgalåten tune is popular and there are numerous recordings. You can hear one version here:
(Sung by Sandra Dahlberg, accompanied on guitar. Pretty, sounds romantic, but really totally wrong: it should be a fiddle in higher tempo, arranged so as to reproduce the horror of the text. But as said – it’s pretty. )The Swedish original lyrics are rendered below, in parallel to my flatfooted translation; it doesn’t rhyme, it doesn’t follow any previously known metre, but…
(For those not familiar with the Swedish alphabet: the letter ”å” looks like an ”a” with a ball on top, and it is pronounced like the ”a” in the word ”ball”. Easy to remember, isn’t it?)
HårgalåtenSpelmannen drog fiol ur lådan
och lyfte stråken högt mot söndagssolens kula.
Då blev det fart på Hårgafolket,
de glömde Gud och hela världen
Dansen gick på äng och backar,
högt uppå Hårgaåsens topp.
Man slet ut båd’ skor och klackar,
aldrig fick man på dansen stopp.
Varifrån kommer du som spelar,
säg vem har lärt dig detta spel det vilda galna?
Stannar du inte brister hjärtat,
å Gud bevare han har bockfot!
Klockorna hade ringt i dalen,
och där gick far och mor och bror till socken kyrkan.
Var kan nu Hårgas ungdom vara,
å herregud de dansar ännu!
Dansen gick till Hårgalåten,
högt uppå Hårgaåsens topp.
Man har nu inte långt till gråten,
dansar nu sönder både själ och kropp
Hejda din stråke spelman innan,
vi dansar liv och själ och alla ben ur kroppen.
Nej inte slutar han sin dans
förrän allesammans faller döda!
The Hårga Tune
Fiddler took the fiddle from its casing
lifted bow to greet the dawning Sunday sun
In Hårga village people started bustling
Once was God and all the world forgottenDance, they did over hills and meadows
to the crest of Hårga mountain
Soles and heels they soon wore out
Since the dance could not be stopped
Wherefrom are you, amazing fiddler
tell, who taught you play this wild and mad?
Our hearts will burst unless you stop!
oh help us God, he walks on cloven hooves!
The bells were ringing in the valley,
god-fearing people went on their way to church
But where are all the Hårga youngsters?
oh Lord, my God, they are still dancing!
They swirled and danced to Hårgalåten
high on the crest of Hårga hill
Exhausted, nearly weeping, crying!
Their souls and bodies torn asunder
Fiddler, hold your bow before
life, and soul, and bones leave our bodies!
No, he doesn’t stop, his tune goes on
Till all of us at end fall down.
Prime Minister Olof Palme, assassinated on Feb. 28, 1986
The internationally most noticed incidents during the last 40 years in Sweden is undoubtedly the murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme, and the murder of Anna Lindh, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Officially, both incidents are explained as impulsive, random killings by misfit persons. This may be true about Anna Lindh. But Olof Palme had many enemies, domestically as well as internationally, for being unusually outspoken, equally obtrusive on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Consequently, many theories have been put forward about foreign agents as well as domestic conspiracies.
Sweden joined the European Union 1995 after a referendum with a narrow victory for ”yea”. Swedes are however reluctant members: another referendum about the currency yielded a ”nay”, why Sweden deliberately has failed to meet the conditions for the Euro zone – currently a good decision. Voices arguing for EU exit are heard increasingly often.
The current neo-liberal government are losing support after dismantling the welfare system and failing to halt the increase in unemployment. Next general election will be 2014… and then what?
If you missed the first episodes, check out our history page (Culture/History) which presents each of the six episodes, or dive directly into Today and the Future?