holidays

A Swedish Easter

The Swedish word for Easter – Påsk – has it’s origin from the hebrew “Pesach” meaning “Passover”. In Sweden it is
considered to be a christian holiday but have, in reality, become a mix of chirstian and old folklore traditions.

An example of this is Easter budles of birchtwigs that we nowadays decorate with feathers of different colors.
These probably originated in bundles of twigs that were used for playfully Whipping each other to remember Jesus’
suffering but in the mid 1800s people began decorate with the bundles of Birchtwigs with feathers of various
colors. While Easter decorations adorn our doors and table small children walk around dressed up as Easter witches
and asking for candy at the doors of people’s homes. This takes place on Maundy Thursday which was the day when
witches fly to the mythological place, “Blåkulla”, to celebrate with the devil.

On Easter will also give each other Easter eggs full of candy. An Easter Egg is a hollow egg, usually made of
paper, which you fill with candy. The color of Easter color is yellow and most of the decorations you’ll find will
be in yellow.

Naturally relatives and family also meet during the weekend to enjoy a good dinner together.

A tradition that is emerging right now is that in a couple of different geographical locations in Swede, events
are organized, so-called Art Runs (Konstrunda), where you, during the Easter weekend, can visit different
exhibitions from locally active painters, photographers and craftsmen.

Since there probably are a lot written about Easter and its traditions already, I will take you on an excursion I
made on Maundy Thursday in the vicinity around Uppsala.

Swedish Snow
As this year’s Easter falls quite early in the year, the winter’s snow has not yet melted away and exposed the
arable land available thereunder. But you can not complain about the weather – clear blue skies and sunshine – so
this day I took the car and went out to a place where art and crafts were displayed by its practitioners.

Ulva kvarn

On of the places I went to is called Ulva kvarn (Ulva mill) which is a small craft center outside Uppsala. Ulva
Mill literally means “wolf-mill.” The mill is built at an old ford over river Fyris where you could sometimes see
wolves wander over and this is how the mill got its name. The mill building shown in the picture was built in 1759
but the place has been used for continuing operation since the mid 1300′s.

Fika in winter
Naturally, people want to sit outside in the nice weather and have a “fika”. It does not matter whether it’s snow
or cold. You just have your coffee!

Ulva kvarn

“Ulva kvarn” with its small shops for arts and crafts

Swedish Witch

As you all probably knows, witches are flying to “Blåkulla” this evening and, unfortunately, it happens that they
are flying too low at times and then the above occur.

Fika time

“Fika” time. A small “fik” (a place buy coffee and cookies) in “Österbybruk”, a couple of miles north of Uppsala.

Another Swedish Witch

The witches are everywhere.

Birchtwigs

A traditional bundle of Birchtwigs decorated with eggs. There also are Daffodils which is the flower for the
season.

Great place for a fika

A nice place to have your coffee.

"Fika" buffet
Today they had a “fika” buffet. “Fika” buffet means that you pay a fixed price, approx. $ 10, and you can eat all
the cakes, pies and pastries you want. The quantity of coffee or tea you want to drink is included in the price.

Swedish Easter decoration

Another variation of decoration of the bundle of twigs.

More Easter decorations

And yet another one

Birch Tree in Sweden for Easter

If you do not think that a bundle of twigs is enough there are Birch trees you could use.

After having all this “fika” I had to go home for some well deserved rest.

Happy Easter to you all!

//Bengt


Happy Fettisdag

happyfettisdagFettisdag is today. The day of semlor. Try baking your own semlor so you have plenty to eat and read more about Fat Tuesday in Sweden! Check out the blog post when I first discovered this awesome holiday.

 


Julskyltning – a Swedish Christmas tradition

“Julskyltning” or “skyltsöndag” as it is usually called is a tradition in Sweden since mid-late 19th century. In the middle of the 19th-century the shops started make special preparations before Christmas by decorating their display windows. It took a few years and in the late 19th-century it made a breakthrough as a happening before Christmas. There were a lot of competition between different shops to make the best display and preparing the displays involved a lot of secret keeping. At a given time on a specific day the displays were uncovered and the people of the city could go and enjoy the new displays. The “Skyltsöndag” used to be the last Sunday before Christmas but nowadays it’s usually the last Sunday in November.

At this time of year the sun rises at about 8.30 am and sets in the evening at 2.45 pm in the Stockholm area and Christmas decorations involves a lot of illuminations that makes city a glow in the night.

The preparations for “skyltsöndag” also involves decorating the city for christmas and below you will can see photos from Stockholm taken this year of decorations and display windows.

One of the more known department stores in Stockholm is NK (Nordiska Kompaniet). Their displays at Christmas are visited by a lot of people and something of a happening. The display for this year has a book theme.

 

Nordiska Kompaniet

This is the NK store at Hamngatan, Stockholm

 

tomten

An illustration of a famous poem called “Tomten”

 

 

Pettsson och Findus

“Pettsson och Findus” – two much loved characters from a series of children books.

 

 

Tomtebobarnen

“Tomtebobarnen” is a children book written by Elsa Beskow.

 

Tant Grön, Tant Brun och Tant Gredelin

“Tant Grön, Tant Brun och Tant Gredelin” is another book for children written by Elsa Beskow.

 

 

Pippi Longstocking

“Pippi Långstrump” or Pippi Longstocking is another much loved character from children books written by Astrid Lindgren.

 

Alla vi barn I Bullerbyn

“Alla vi barn I Bullerbyn” is another book by Astrid Lindgren.

 

Sturegallerian, Stureplan, Stockholm

This is the Christmas decoration at Sturegallerian, Stureplan, Stockholm.

 

Biblioteksgatan

“Biblioteksgatan” or Library street close to Stureplan in Stockholm. At the end of the street you’ll find the Swedish National Library.

 

 

Sergels Torg

This is the decorations at “Sergels Torg” in Stockholm.

 

 

Klarabergsgatan

And finally a view along “Klarabergsgatan” close to the railway station in Stockholm.

 

Wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy new year!


The Italian Legacy of Sweden: Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia

SantaLuciaSiracusa

When Hilary (aka Missfoster) asked us writers in Sweden who would like to write an article on Santa Lucia’s Day I thought that it wasn’t something for me.

“This is my first Santa Lucia in Sweden in my whole lifetime and I dunno much about it, maybe somebody else like a Swede should write about it, not an Italian!”

And I thought that Thomas did an excellent job already with his post on Lucia

The only thing I know about Santa Lucia in Italy is a funny rhyme:
“Santa Lucia, il giorno più corto che ci sia.”
Which means “Saint Lucie, the shortest of the days”, if referred to sunlight makes perfect sense both in Italy and Sweden.

Then I did some quick research over the Internet, curious to know the story of the saint, Lucia.

She was Italian, off course, but my eyes became stuck on the city where she came from: Siracusa.

As far as I know almost every city of Italy has it’s own saint and when it comes to that day normally it is a city wide holiday (no work since Italians are lazy).

Siracusa city

The mountain in the background is the volcano called “Etna”.

Siracusa is in Sicily… and in an ogonblick everything became clear in my mind: I knew why Santa Lucia’s day is more important in Sweden than in Italy.

The Normans, I wrote about them on and old article, brought back to Sweden the cult of the saint so important for the whole area where they sovreigned (Naples and below all the way to Sicily), after they settled down in the south of Italy!

Since 1970 in the City of Siracusa there takes place an event called “Lucia di Svezia e Settimana Svedese” “Lucie of Sweden and the Swedish Week”. At the end of the week, which is on the 20th of December, young Swedish girls “Lucia di Svezia” go to Italy to represent Lucia, as you can see in the video.

Since Swedish girls are VERY important to Italians they are heavily escorted by the carabinieri, our military police :-)

And, celebrating Santa Lucia in Sweden today, I feel little closer to Italy and to Sweden at the same time. :-)

Alessio

Images via Wikipedia.org.