Okay Swedes and all, what candies do you love eating?
Click to see the full image. Part of it is being cut-off here.
Hopefully all of you across the country are experiencing awesome weather. Wednesday was the first time this year we grilled and dined. YAY! Now, we are in Göteborg celebrating Easter, and it is awesome weather.
We have been outside since morning and it’s neither butt cold nor killer windy. I think for the first time I can empathize with the Swedes and their lack of sunshine. It is awesome to walk to work without fearing death by icicle or slipping; plus wearing all those layers of clothes.
At least now you just need a light coat but can done a t-shirt in the afternoon. Since we have a long holiday weekend in Sweden, I’ve been wondering how Swedes celebrate Easter. There’s no work on Good Friday, Långfredag, or Easter Monday, Annandag Påsk.
Celebrating Easter in Sweden is confusing. Swedes aren’t religious enough to go to Church, for the most part, and since few are Catholic, no one is fasting or avoiding meat. It’s kinda a, ‘Christ died, we get a long weekend, there’s sunshine, hallejulah! feeling.’ It’s not common to avoid meat or fast on Good Friday but many Swedes do stick to eggs, a big favorite, sill and lax.
When I was shopping for Easter goodies like plastic eggs and cute chickies and bunnies, I also found witches. On Maudy Thursday the witches go to Blåkulla in Germany to meet and they return back on Påskafton. Kids dress up as witches and basically go ‘trick-or-treating’ as a way to be appeased by neighbors with sweets; otherwise they can play tricks on you.
The great thing in Sweden is that the Easter Bunny has not taken over society and parents are not stupidly buying rabbits as gifts because they’re for “easter.” Yea, if you’re one of those people, shame on you.
Påskafton marks a massive smörgåsbord in the afternoon with family. Easter food is similar to Christmas food though there will be a lot more egg dishes and potatoes. In the evening, we are planning to have a large bonfire, for the practical reason of warding off the witches from playing tricks.
Easter Monday is a red day in Sweden and I have yet to figure out why, except that it’s awesome to have a four day weekend.
While the Swedes are not religious in nature, they do have some typical traditions, mainly the cross between pagan and Christianity. It’s very interesting to see how a modern, western society interprets both ideologies and makes their own culture. Though I found it really funny that no Swedes I met knew about Passover, comparatively to the US where in school we were have a mock Passover dinner or make treats. Matzo easter eggs anyone?
In Sweden we take Shrove Tuesday (more well known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday) seriously. We eat semlor. We buy 4 million semlor on this day. We each marzipan on cardamon flavored bread with whipped cream. And more semlor. And the heretics eat semlor with blåbärs creme (blueberry creme).
This is obviously the best way to start the fasting period, eating delicious goodness. I suppose we can make an exception for waffle day.
A semla is more than just a bun to the Swedes, it is heaven. And with anything heavenly, I asked Twitterers and friends to give their take on the semlor.
Can you name a favorite part? Is that possible? The beautiful blen of crushed almond sugar paste not quite marzipan mixture with slightly sweetened whipped cream surrounded in a fluffy pillow of cardemom flavored puff pastry?
The best Fat Tuesday celebration pastry I’ve ever had.
I’ve been known to scoop the cream out with my finger and leave the rest so I guess that’s my answer!
The cream :)
the almond-cream combo!
The whipped cream! Unless it’s from Lux Dessert & Choklad who make an amazing mandelmassa….mmmm!
Good question! For me it’s probably the marsipan/almond paste or the accompanying milk
Semlor from Gunnarssons Bakery on Götgatan 92 in Södermalm. Left is the “special” semla which has mixed whipped cream and mandelmässa. Right is the “lux” which is very luxurious and creamy.
Semlor’s traditions date back to the 1500s during the Protestant Reformation. At that time it was a simple bun served with warmed milk (hetvägg). In the 1800s Swiss bakeries introduced the almond filled paste into the bun. And by 1930, by ways of Gotland, whipped cream was added to fulfill the decadence.
What’s your favorite way to eat a semla? And your favorite part? It’s okay we won’t hate you if you don’t love semlor, okay maybe we will.
PS- It is International Women’s Day. 60 million women are sexual abused on the way to school, more than 40 million are estimated missing in India due to honor killings or infant murder. Please honor the women in your life.
Holidays in Sweden are called red days or röda dager. The day before a holiday is considered a halv-dag or half day. Not all day before’s get a half day of work. If a red day is on a Tuesday or Thursday (thereby squashing one working day), it’s called a klämdag. Not all companies give the klämdag.
If you are unlucky, as in 2011, most holidays are occurring directly on the weekend. Unlike the United States which awards the Friday or Monday after as a day off, Sweden does not. For example December 31st and January 1st fall on Saturday and Sunday. You won’t get the Friday or Monday off unless you’re very lucky.
Here is the holiday schedule for 2011 in Sweden.
25 Apr Easter Monday
1 May May 1st – AKA Valborg day
2 Jun Ascension Day
6 Jun National day
12 Jun Whit Sunday
24 Jun Midsummer Eve
25 Jun Midsummer Day
5 Nov All Saints
*red days (government holidays) are marked in red.
* days marked in black are usual days off.
It was Monday after Midsommar and I had nothing better to do than visit the museum with Andrew and his family who are here to visit Stockholm. After two hours in the museum (more on that later), we headed to the Absolut Ice Bar near central station.
It was 25C outside and sunny in Stockholm. In the ice bar it was -5C and required a funny coat and mittens that don’t warm you up. To say the least, visiting the frigid weather was refreshing and cooling. Wearing a short skirt and high heels is not recommended though.
If you are visiting Stockholm and enjoy Absolut vodka and ice sculptures then visit the Ice Bar at the Nordic Sea Hotel. Booking online is 25kr cheaper than going straight to the door. Who doesn’t love a deal! You can book at least one hour ahead of time. Go here to book. Prices to visit the Ice Bar:
Online pre-booked sessions: SEK 170 per person.
• Pre-booked session on sight or by telephone: SEK 180 per person.
• Drop-in sessions: SEK 195 per person.
• Guests staying at Nordic Sea Hotel: SEK 150 per person.
• Entrance with alcohol-free coctail: SEK 140 per person.
Evidently even being a guest at the hotel doesn’t give you a free ride.
The cost covers entrance into the bar and one drink. They have wild concoctions and being a true Swede myself, I ordered the Absolut Captain made of frozen lingonberries, lingonberry juice, and Absolut 100. Oh yea, the real shit.
Note to self, in the frozen bar you don’t feel buzzed at all. Outside, 30 minutes later, pushing your bike up Götgatan as old people pass you by, is when the buzz hits you.
My recipe for an Absolut Summer
1 part museum visit – to feel cultural
2 parts sunshine
1 part frozen bar & drink
1 jigga buzzed walk with bicycle
1 part happiness
Stir together and enjoy!
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.
The sun is shining brightly, the girls are meeting midsommar men, and the fishes are splashing around on our dining plates.
Welcome to the Swedish Midsummer!
Time to eat delicious strawberries, lax, sill, potatoes with dill, and of course aquavit. No midsommarfirande (midsummer festival) is complete without singing and dancing. Small frogs dancing around a maypole or seven pretty girls in a circle with flowers are essentials to the summer debauchery.
Seven girls in a circle:
Sju vackra flickor i en ring
sju vackra flickor i en ring,
vackraste flickor häromkring
ibland de flickor alla.
Flickorna vända sig omkring
flickorna vända sig omkring,
sökande efter vännen sin
ibland de gossar alla.
Vara vem det vara vill
vara vem det vara vill.
Den, som jag räcker handen till,
han har mitt unga hjärta.
Nu kan jag vara riktigt gla’.
Nu kan jag vara riktigt gla’.
Nu har jag fått den jag vill ha
ibland de gossar alla,
ibland de gossar alla.
For all of you single bees, there are plenty of flowers to pollinate. Håkan Petersson from Folkungagillet, Linköping’s dance association said:
“Traditionally, Midsummer was a time where men and women could come together and flirt in ways that are much more subtle than today,” he says. “Many of these songs and dances reflect the flirtatiousness and are filled with innuendo.”
Maybe you can find a Swede in Sweden amongst the strawberry fields.
Today is Valborg, Walpurgis night, in Sweden. An unofficial holiday, followed by the official red day on First May, Valborg is celebrated as the welcoming of summer.
When you ask Swedes what Valborg is, the response is, “another day to party and drink.” And indeed it is. Valborg is typically celebrated with a champagne brunch in the park or outside and celebrations begin by the 30th afternoon.
In the evening, large bonfires are made to ward off the spirits and witches.
For the Swedes, Valborgsmässoafton is a pagan holiday but is well associated with Saint Walpurga who died on February 25, 779. While the February date is listed in Roman Martyrology, her remains were placed next to her brother on May 1st. Finland and Sweden retains the latter date.
Þorbjörn says “In Göteborg, Valborg is pretty much synonymous with Cortegen. The Cortège is a huge parade and party throughout the streets of Gothenburg and created by the students from Chalmers Technical University.” A great way for the nerds of Chalmers to put on a huge party in the city.
Stockholm and other cities in Sweden don’t have anything similar to Cortège though Uppsala has its own massive parties.
If you want to see the celebration of Valborg in Sweden today, check out your local newspapers where bonfires will be held. In Stockholm, the locations/times are: Vasaparken – Odenplan 19hr, Riddarholmen 20.30hr, Skansen Park 20hr. Otherwise follow the smell of burning wood and thousands of Swedes are drinking champagne and dancing.
Today is Epiphany. Not the epiphany you have when you realize something (although the meaning is derived from the holiday) but the holiday. Basically January 6th ends the Twelve Days of Christmas and is celebrated when the Magi visits Christ. In Eastern Christian traditions, Epiphany is celebrated as Jesus Christ being baptized in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist.
In Sweden, Epiphany is called Trettondagen in swedish. It is also an official red day in the country so all companies are off.
As for me, I’ll celebrate this holiday that we have a day off and can sleep in and watch tv. Bless!