Saturday, November 25, 2006

In My Country the Days We Celebrate Are – Sweden

Easter: On Sheer Thursday the children is masked as witches and walks door to door and wishes Happy Easter. If they are lucky, they get candy or money. According to the folklore, the witches flied to Blåkulla and danced with the Devil. The Saturday, the Easter Eve, is the day we are celebrating in Sweden. It is a family holiday, and we eat a lot of food together and give each other Easter eggs, which are filled with candy.

30/4-1/5: On Walpurgis Night, which is a holiday, we are celebrating that spring is coming. On April 30 everybody gathers around a large bonfire and a choir sings songs of spring. Most of the songs are from the 19th century and were spread by the students' spring festivities. The strongest and most traditional spring festivities are also found in the old university cities, like Uppsala and Lund. The evening is a great “party-night” in Sweden.

6/6: This day is the National Day of Sweden and is celebrated in the honor of King Gustav Vasa who was elected this day 1523. He is considered as the founder of the modern Sweden. In 2005 it became a public holiday and on this day we sing the National anthem Du gamla, du fria (Thou Ancient, Thou Free).

Midsummer: Midsummer’s Eve occur the third Friday in June every year. This day is bigger than the National day, and is also popular called the National day of Sweden. Midsummer rivals Christmas as the most important holiday of the year. It is a non-Christian day, which refers to the summer solstice and was celebrated as a sacrifice time in the sign of the fertility. Today we are dancing round the maypole, which is a phallic fertility symbol that during the pre-Christian times meant to impregnate the earth. The may pole is covered with greens and flowers that everybody collected together. Traditional music is played on accordion during the maypole dance and many wear traditional folk costumes. The year's first potatoes, pickled herring, sour cream, and possibly the first strawberries of the season are on the menu. Drinking songs are also important at this feast, and many drink heavily. Traditionally, young people pick bouquets of seven or nine different flowers and put them under their pillow in the hope of dreaming about their future spouse.

St. Lucia: The Saint Lucia Day is a typical Scandinavian celebration. Early in the morning a group of young people walks in a long procession and while entering the room they sing the melody of the traditional Neapolitan song Santa Lucia. At the head of the group walks a pretty girl in a long, white dress. Upon her head she wears a crown of green leaves and seven glowing candles. In her hands she carries a tray of little gingerbread cakes and saffron Lucia-buns or just candles. Behind her walk some younger girls, also in white, carrying candles. A number of boys follow in tall cone shaped hats decorated with golden stars (star boys), young pucks/brownies carrying lanterns and some gingerbread men. The girl with the crown represents Saint Lucia, a young Christian girl. She was killed by Roman soldiers about fifteen hundred years ago for refusing to give up her religion.

Christmas: In Sweden we are celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December. The traditional day to set up the Christmas tree is the day before Christmas Eve. On the evening of the 24th, when everybody has danced round the tree, we open the Christmas presents. We eat a great buffet which is called julbord (Christmas table), and contains a lot of food as pickled herring, egg halves, smoked fish, sea food, pâtés, ham, cold cuts, beetroot salad, sausages, gratins, meatballs, ribs, cabbage dishes, potatoes any much more..! At the evening we eat hot rice pudding with cinnamon, sugar and milk. According to the folklore an almond is dropped in the pudding, and the one who get’s it in his/her mouth first gets married!

31/12: New Years Eve is a big “party-night”, when you spend the night with all of your friends. We eat a big fancy dinner and before the clock strikes 00.00, everybody listen to a special New Year Poem on TV, which a famous actor read. At twelve everybody is toasting in champagne and wishes everybody Happy New Year.

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