Something Swedish

Welcome to Sweden

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When you first move to a new country you wonder and worry about a lot of things:

“Is this ever going to feel like home?”
“When will I get used to the way things work here?”
“How long will it take to feel normal again?”
“How long until I can speak the language?”
“Will I ever find a job? Make friends? Get used to the food and traditions?”

For me, the overall answers are, “Yes” and “About two years.”
A few months ago I noticed that I no longer felt the need to take pictures of everything I saw or did. A few months ago I noticed that things were no longer strange and exotic. A few months ago I realized that I had found my place in Sweden, started working more, can speak the language and have a strong group of friends. I began to forget how hard and different it was when I first moved here two years ago. The differences that made me laugh or get frustrated are now part of my everyday life. A few months ago, I stopped blogging.

Today though, I decided to pick it back up. Stopping was never my intention, it just sort of happened as a side effect of being busy and not finding anything fun or interesting to write about. This weekend I watched a new show about an American who moves to Sweden and I felt the need to comment on it, criticize, and continue doing what I can do to help other people who are still finding their way.

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About the show that motivated me to write again: Welcome to Sweden – it is a semi autobiographical comedy of Greg Poehler (Brother of actress/comedien Amy Poehler) moving to Sweden for love (Which he really did do about 7 years ago). Sound familiar? I thought so too, so I was eager to watch it.

This interview (which is in English) and short clip from the show make it seem like the perfect show to watch:

And it’s true; it is about being a “fish out of water” and trying to reinvent oneself. For some reason though, I couldn’t connect to the actual show.

While it shows a lot of stereotypes (of both Americans and Swedes) I can’t say i was personally able to relate to all of it. Greg Poehler plays the ignorant and oblivious American who moves to a country without doing a single second of research or putting a single thought into it while his girlfriend’s parents expect him to fail and go home and wonder why he hasn’t found a job and can’t speak the language after two days. Perhaps this is exactly how it was for him, but parts of feel hard to believe.

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“…and so you moved to Sweden to live with our daughter. You have no friends, no job…”

Now, I know its hard to make reality into a show (aside from reality tv) and still make it fun and captivating, but part of the problem for me is that most of the show doesn’t make sense because it’s simply not the way things work. Immigration interview after you’ve already moved to the country? Illegal. Needing to get your drivers license changed to Swedish immediately? In reality, you have a year. The Swedish teacher speaking English to the class/the class introducing themselves in English? Should never happen. Not knowing about taking off your shoes indoors until you’ve lived there for three weeks? Seriously? Come on! Maybe I am too serious and like to be overly helpful and informative, and a comedy show doesn’t need to get all the facts straight because there is an artistic freedom, however, I find some of it to be misleading or annoying at some parts. Of course everyone has different experiences and I don’t expect it to portray my exact struggles or observations, but there are a lot of things that are overly exaggerated and even more basic (and potentially very funny) things left out.

Those in Sweden- What are your thoughts on the show? (If you haven’t seen it yet, it is being aired on TV4 play) Those in the US – you’ll get your chance to see on July 10 2014 (My wedding anniversary) as NBC has bought the rights and renewed the contract for a second season – so it must not be so bad. Even if I don’t think it’s great, it’s interesting to see and I will certainly tell my friends and family to watch it to get an idea of what it’s been like for me…kind of.

I will continue watching because it does have potential. I can see the appeal and there are funny parts and parts I can kind of relate to, but it’s still an overall “miss” for me so far.

I think I can do better – and maybe one day I will. For now though, I’ll continue blogging.

Welcome back Something Swedish.

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2014 Resolution Evolution – My New Years Monthly Challenge

Happy-New-Year

Gott Nytt År! We decided to end 2013 by celebrating with a candlelit homemade meal, wine, a movie, chocolate cake, champagne, and then watching fireworks over the river.

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How will we start 2014? With a New Years Resolution, of course.

Last year a few of us decided to have a one word New Years resolution – mine was “success.” Did I fulfill my goal? In many ways, I suppose I did. Did I think about it and strive after it the whole year? Unfortunately not.

This year there will be no typical throw away resolution easily forgotten after a few weeks. This is a year-long project designed to take it one month at a time: 28-31 days dedicated to something different.

Goal: For me to find new ways to enjoy and improve my life through these monthly challenges and to hopefully incorporate some of them into my life.

Why: I want to experience new things, find new hobbies, change my habits, broaden my horizons, try new foods, do  things I’ve been meaning to, reach more goals, make a difference and see a difference in myself.

2014 New Years Resolution:

Improve/change/develop in 12 different ways

JANUARY: Be a vegetarian

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How: Avoid eating meat, eat protein substitutes and take vitamins.

Why: Even though I love meat, and have nothing ethical against eating it – I am curious about how it is to be a vegetarian.

Goal: Eat healthier, be more aware of what I eat, eat less, eat different types of food, form the habit of taking daily vitamins.

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FEBRUARY: Be fit

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How: Exercise everyday – Push myself to start running again, go to the gym, learn yoga, work out at home.

Why: I need better self discipline.

Goal: Get back in shape and back in the habit of working out with a touch of meditation.

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MARCH: Be a dancer

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How: Take dancing lessons. “Bugg” to be precise – a Swedish style of dancing similar to swing.

Why: I’ve always wanted to take dancing lessons, it seems like a fun way to gain confidence and coordination, and continue working out.

Goal: To finally learn how to dance.

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APRIL: Be musical

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How: Pick an instrument, take lessons, practice and learn!

Why: I played saxophone in band when I was 15 and have wanted to continue playing ever since.

Goal: Reconnect with an old passion, pick up a new hobby/skill

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MAY: Be more fluent

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How: Speak only Swedish for a month. No English TV shows/movies/music, conversations, texting, writing or reading.

Why: Because it’s the best way to learn and I use too much English at home.

Goal: Become completely immersed, improve my Swedish skills and lengthen my minds stamina.

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JUNE: Be more Swedish

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How: Become more Swedish through meeting certain stereotypes and realities of being a Swede. Taking suggestions and listing the ways I have (imo) already transformed.

Why: 2014 is the year I become a Swede with dual citizenship and a Swedish passport – I want to fit the part (at least for this month, to try it out!)

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JULY: Be more giving

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How: Volunteer, give donations/raise money, participate in fundraisers

Why: I think it’s important

Goal: To help as much as possible

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AUGUST: Be a traveler

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How: Visit as much of Sweden as possible via day/weekend trips.

Why: I’ve never been much of a traveler and think that being a “get up and go” type would be fun.

Goal: To see more of Sweden, to get a better understanding of Swedish geography.

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SEPTEMBER: Be more IRL

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How: Disconnect to reconnect. No social media, minimize time on computer, gaming and TV, don’t constantly check phone, don’t take pictures of everything.

Why: I hate how much time I spend in front of the PC -doing nothing- and how people, including myself, can’t go 5 minutes without looking at their phone.

Goal: More face to face time with friends, more concentration, be more productive, find other ways of spending time.

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OCTOBER: Be more literary

reader1How: Read every single day.

Why: I have always loved to read but haven’t prioritized it lately.

Goal: To read as much as possible and to remember how fun it is to slow down and read as a pass time and get lost in a book.

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NOVEMBER:  Become an author

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How:  Participate in Nanowrimo – National Novel writing month (Write everyday – goal 50,000 words)

Why: I love writing and have book ideas that are rattling around in my head that I need to focus on getting down on paper.

Goal: Dedicate all the time, focus and creativity needed to finally write a book I’ve always wanted to.

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DECEMBER:  To Be Announced

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How: This month is dedicated to my readers who I hope will give suggestions and make this month as memorable and worthwhile as the others. There will be a page dedicated to suggestions, ideas, and voting.
Why: tba
Goal: tba

Happy New Year!!! And good luck on any New Years Resolutions you have!


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Swedish Cartoons

When my Swedish was good enough, about six months ago, I started watching TV to train my new language. My level at the time was pretty limited unless I had Swedish subtitles to follow along, which required my full attention. I wanted something passive to listen to while I did other things. So, I started watching cartoons.

Sweden is one of those countries that doesn’t do a lot of dubbing – except when it comes to the younger audience who hasn’t yet learned English – which means cartoons are in Swedish.

Some cartoons have the same name, but most use a Swedish title and character names. Sometimes these names are direct translations, which aren’t interesting enough to mention. These are a little different; sometimes the translation is just off, other times it’s completely replaced by something seemingly random. It’s fun to see the proper names change from American names to Swedish names.

Mickey Mouse: Musse Pigg

Minnie Mouse: Mimmi Pigg

(Especially interesting because “pigg” does not mean mouse or pig, but ” alert”)

Goofy: Jan Långben – Jan Long Legs

Donald Duck: Kalle Anka (Anka = Duck)

Daisey Duck: Kajsa Anka

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Donald Duck/Kalle Anka is a huge deal here in Sweden, especially around Christmas time. Not only will you always find Donald Duck (not mickey mouse) comics in stores all year round, but it is a Christmas tradition to watch  Kalle Anka every year.

Ducktales: Ankliv – Duck life

Huey Dewey and Louie: Knatte, Fnatte, Tjatte

Scrooge Mc Duck: Joakim VonAnka (Von Duck)

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Sometimes the text stays the same but the theme song is in Swedish, keeping to the same beat:

Talespin: Luftanshjältar – The Heroes of the Sky

Chip n’ Dale: Piff och Puff

Rescue Rangers: Räddningspatrullen – The Saving Patrol

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The Carebears: Krambjörnarna – The Hug Bears

Heathcliff: Nisse

Garfield: Gustav

Popeye: Karl Alfred

Cinderella: Askungen – The Ash Child

Fox and the Hound: Micke och Molley

Calvin and Hobbes: Kalle och Hobbe

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Bugs Bunny: Snurre Sprätt

The Road Runner: Hjulben  – Wheel legs

Wile E Coyote: Gråben – Grey legs

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Super Heroes:

Batman: Läderlappen – Leather patch

Superman: Stålmannen – The Steel man

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Aside from the intro songs being changed, which didn’t phase me that much, naturally each character has a new unrecognizable voice (especially if you don’t understand the language, in which case – listen to some swedish!):

If you are looking for an authentic Swedish cartoon though (which you should!), then your looking for Bamse, “The worlds strongest bear.” If you live in Sweden, you need to know about Bamse.

Through adventures to help others with the company of his friends and boost in strength by eating magical honey his grandmother makes, Bamse teaches moral values, like kindness,  equality and responsibility through real life issues, while still being the most popular cartoon in Sweden. The television clips are from 1972, but the comic books that started being printed in 1973 are still being printed today. Read more about the beloved Swedish classic HERE.

Just a little something fun for a Saturday post – might be helpful for anyone moving here with kids! (Also, I do still find them fun to watch myself for practice …really just a good excuse to sit on the couch and watch cartoons all day)


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Prinsessbröllopet (Swedish Royal Wedding)

Today the Swedish flags are raised to celebrate the wedding of Princess Madeleine (Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland) to New Yorker financier Christopher O’Neil. (this is the second royal event since I’ve moved to Sweden)

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To celebrate (aka as an excuse) I am prepped with a slice of prinsesstårta (Princess cake) to eat while I watch:

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I thought this might also be the perfect excuse to share some photos of Prinsesstårta CUPCAKES that a friend and I attempted for the first time last week. I’ll post the recipe once we perfect it (More fluffy cream and use green marzipan so they look like prinsesstårta, for starters)!

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Eurovision 2013 – in SWEDEN (Featuring a song ABOUT Sweden)

Last night Europe was huddled around their television sets watching the finally of The Eurovision Song Contest, crossing their fingers for their own country to win, or at least a neighboring country. It’s usually a love hate relationship; there are die hard fans of the competition and then there are people who think it’s a joke. Either way it is an acquired taste. One of my favorite parts is following Twitter #Eurovision2013 and reading the comments and reactions.

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Last year I wrote all about the Eurovision contest, recap  or learn all about it for the first time by clicking this link: Sweden Wins Eurovision AGAIN! A History Starting With ABBA

This year The Eurovision Song Contest was held in Sweden because of Loreen’s powerful hit, “Euphoria.” Hosting Eurovision is a big deal; bringing in thousands of tourists and being able to show off your country to the world.

Instead of telling you about all 26 finalists (or even highlighting them all) I want to show you my favorite part of the show, which was an intermission song called, “Swedish Smörgåsbord” performed by the host, Petra Mede, singing all about every (true) Swedish stereotype and characteristic that exists. It’s hilariously accurate and paints a great picture of Sweden and the Swedes.  (Read the lyrics  HERE) It really is a must watch:

Sweden has been getting a lot of credit for putting together a great show this year, with special attention to this song, calling it a “Show Stopper” and that the host “Steals the Show” with a disappointment that you can’t vote for intermission songs.euro2013twit

Sweden’s entry unfortunately came in 14th place:

However, our neighboring country, DENMARK, won by 50 points!:

So, next year Eurovision will still be right around the corner, in Copenhagen.


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First time Shooting

Growing up in NYC, I never thought of going out to a shooting range for fun. The only ranges I ever knew about are the ones on TV that are in some building that the cops go to when they need to blow off some steam, shooting at a paper cut out of a body with a pistol.

A random last minute invitation in Swedish to go shooting (“Skjuter”…followed by hand gestures to explain) left me confused and unsure what to expect, but I’m glad I was told that I wanted to go :)

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The Swedish word for “guns” is “skjutvapen” (shootingweapon)

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Digital screens to show where your bullet hit, or “Träffar” (which means “meet” in Swedish, but also where the bullet “meets” the target). After unloading my first empty shell case I finally understood the phrase “the smoking gun”!

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Mind blowing that I can follow a gun instructional in Swedish and understand everything: how to position your body and why, how to adjust the scope, how to load/unload, and then a little competition called “GRIS” (Swine/pig) which would be equivalent to playing “HORSE” with basketball (who ever does the worst gets a letter, gain enough letters to spell the word and you’re out)

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It was three of us, all new to shooting, with two instructors. “LADDA!” (“Load!” which also means “to charge”, for example, your cell phone) “Tre, två, ett!”: 20 seconds to aim and shoot after the countdown. Soon the first “GRIS” was out of the game and our time went down to 15 seconds. Then it was tied “GRI – GRI” and it was down to the last shot: 10 seconds to aim and shoot… I was the second “GRIS” out of the game.

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Went through almost three boxes of ammunition myself. Before our screens were cleared to play “GRIS” I got a bulls-eye – I swear! I even kept the empty shell, but I didn’t think of taking a photo until the screen was erased!

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Hubby is a much better shot (From all the FPS games):

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So concentrated!

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I had a lot of scattered shots compared to him – it’s not too easy! Mostly because it is so darn uncomfortable! It’s hard to find that perfect position to get your shots to line up, and then you don’t want to move a muscle.

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Today I am so sore that I feel like I got punched really hard in the back and stomach along with general aches in the shoulders.

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But it was worth it for such a cool experience, along with meeting some nice new friends.

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Definitely something we would do again.

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First SomethingSwedish VIDEO: Valborg in Halmstad, celebrating Spring in Sweden

Last year was my first time experiencing the celebration of Valborg in Sweden. Here, let this link to last years post refresh your memory: **Links are currently broken – search for “Valborg- How We Welcome Spring in Sweden” to learn more about this tradition **

This year I decided to do something a bit different – I decided that text and photos are no longer enough for the fans, friends, and family of SomethingSwedish – so I started a Youtube channel, recorded a video, edited it, and am now sharing it for your viewing pleasure!

A lot of you have said how it feels like you are living vicariously through my words and captured moments, I want it to feel like you are really in Sweden with me. A picture can say a thousand words, but is that enough to feel the atmosphere, hear the language, and listen to the music?

Enjoy this video of the Valborg celebration, I hope it to be the first of many! Tell me what you think and what you want to see videos of next!


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Cooking Swedish: Semlor

Semlor day is here again! Read all about the history, meaning, and traditions of Fettisdag and semlor (And a review of the best semlor in Halmstad) in last years posts: HERE and HERE.

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This year, learn how to make your own beloved Swedish classic! c’mon be a little Swedish! These sweet buns are eaten until Easter, so you have time!

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Julbord: Christmas Table

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I’ve eaten Christmas dinner in Sweden four times now, but it wasn’t until this year that I realized how traditional it really is. A week before Christmas we had lunch at a restaurant, which happened to be serving a “Julbord.” Christmas in Sweden is all about the Julbord – think “Smörgåsbord” but with all the classic Christmas foods. The restaurant Julbord was serving the exact same Christmas foods as I’ve eaten in Sweden the last few years; it’s not just a family tradition.

Come noon on December 24th (Swede’s celebrate on the eve, or afton) our Julbord looks something like this every year:

Except this year we somehow forgot the boiled eggs – a Swedish tragedy. So, whats on this Christmas Table? Let’s see!

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Julskinka: Naturally, The Christmas Ham – only eaten after smothered in mustard.

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Dopp i gryta: “Dip in the pot” -  Using the rich flavored Christmas Ham broth, it is very traditional to dip dark bread and to eat the soaked bread along with Christmas dinner.

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Janssons Frestelse:  “Janssons Temptation”a delicious dish with very thinly cut potato ‘sticks’ is cooked in the oven with a secret ingredient that makes many non-swedes squirm…

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Anchovies. and anchovy juice.  Sounds gross, I know, but it’s awesome and full of flavor!

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Kålpudding:  Cabbage pudding. Thinly chopped cabbage, fried with syrup, baked with a thick layer of seasoned ground beef in the middle.

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Some Kålpudding and Janssons Frestelse  preparation.

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Fläskkorv: large pork sausage

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Prinskorv: “Prince sausage”  mini hotdog-like sausages

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Köttbullar: The homemade meatballs, of course.

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Brunkål: Brown Cabbage, served as a side dish. Cabbage is boiled and fried and seasoned with vinegar, salt and syrup.

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Christmas Bread

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Cheese, bread, butter, and salad.

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My Christmas feast. Bottom center is the Kålpudding and Janssons Frestelse.

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Alongside we drank Julmust, beer, and snaps.

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Julmust is a very popular cola beverage that is Christmas themed and has a distinctly different “holiday” flavor.

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After dinner and before the presents we eat Struva and glögg - a Swedish mulled spiced wine served warm with raisins and almonds.

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Later that evening we enjoyed Swedish cheesecake, icecream, jam, and cream with coffee, tea, and liquor.

If we had any young kids in the family our Christmas eve festivities would be very different, having to schedule around the must-watch 3:00pm Christmas cartoon, “Kalle Anka,” or as we know him – Donald Duck.  Every year half of Sweden faithfully sits around the television and watches “Kalle Anke och hans vänner önskar God Jul” or “Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas.”

Which would probably be followed by a mysterious Santa knocking on the door and giving out presents.

Christmas eve is also filled with tons of chocolate treats and candy, both as dessert and presents.

On Christmas Day, as if we aren’t full enough, we have our next food tradition – Lutfisk served with boiled potatoes.

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Lutefisk is a white fish that is air dried to later be re-hydrated with water and lye. The fish soaks in the lye water for weeks before it is ready to be cooked. The fish has a strange consistency the first time you eat it, but it is easily forgotten because it is served with a ton of white sauce, salt, and pepper. There are very small bones in the fish,  so be careful!

One last thing – it is very popular to make gingerbread houses in Sweden, as well as to eat ginger bread cookies throughout the month.

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Street Theater Festival: “Gatuteaterfestivalen”

Performers and sideshow acts flooded the streets of Halmstad as they entertained us by telling unique stories with magic tricks, illusions, crude jokes, fire juggling, sword swallowing, cultural dancing, claustrophobic acrobatics, music, improvisation, and flipping off of trampolines. The Gatuteaterfestivalen is the only street theater organized in Sweden. Every year for the past 15 years over a dozen performances from around the world- Italy, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Australia, Belgium and more, come to Halmstad to entertain.

Many of the acts are fun and light-hearted, while others have a more serious tone and convey meaning and emotion. Some are heavily influenced by culture, while a few were inspired by silent films. Most performances take place outdoors, while a couple have limited seats in small places like moving containers and trucks.

Joel Salom To say that this act from Australia is a juggling act would be an understatement. An hour filled with huge personality, hysterical improve, amazing and unique juggling, singing, cool musical effects, an “accidental” strip tease, and a robotic dog named Erik.

CampingTeatret A Danish Traveling Circus

Tony Rooke – Once we climbed into the small container and were immersed in total darkness, stories unraveled before us in a small light box. With only his hands, magic, illusions, and story telling skills, this performer from Australia creates a magical atmosphere where you forget the man behind the curtain.

Karolin Kent – Hailing from Sweden, this dancer incorporates yoga, martial arts, photography, improvisation, and theater into her performance. Wearing nothing aside from the burden of a humongous and heavy skirt dragging behind her, she makes her way to her stage. Perched atop of a pedestal 4 meters tall, she tries to talk but has no voice – only gurgling sounds. The theme of this beautiful and striking performance is the oppression of women in societies and cultures around the world.

Cirque Inextremiste – From France, an extreme and dangerous juggling, balancing, jumping, and climbing act that keeps the audience on their toes. High on a trampoline with fire, propane tanks, and a gigantic ball, you don’t want to blink and miss a beat. Very funny and interactive with the audience, be careful you don’t get your hat lit on fire!


Cie Circ`ombelico – “Da/Fort” is an amazing show from Belgium worth piling into the back of a warm truck with 40 other people to experience. Silently the performers fill the small “room” with intense emotions of everyday life and relationships through body language, facial expressions, and a lot of acrobatic physicality. You never know if they are coming or going, leaving or staying, falling or rising. No photography allowed, but they stick around to chat afterwards and serve drinks.

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