Something Swedish


4 Comments

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!


15 Comments

Glad Påsk! Happy Easter!

Sitting on the train heading up to Värnamo to spend the holiday with my in-laws we were approached by a little girl. Being accustomed to panhandling on the subway in NYC, I averted my eyes, hoping my husband would deal with it and send her away. When a meek gentle voice wished us “Glad Påsk” I saw that the girl was dressed as an Easter Witch with a green apron and scarf, covered in painted-on freckles. She was the daughter of the train conductor, handing out free chocolate Easter egg candies to all the passengers.

2013-03-29 13.01.372013-03-29 12.06.382013-03-24 17.45.57

Easter in Sweden is all about the candy, eggs, and witches. Instead of Easter baskets, candy is kept in large paper Easter eggs:

2013-03-30 11.21.11

The three main decorations of Easter are these oversized decorated Easter eggs, colorful feathers, and witches on broomsticks.

2013-03-24 17.46.1012-015

Wondering why Easter in Sweden has so many witches? Easter was believed to be the day when the witches would fly to the blue mountain and dance with the devil. It was common to  close the windows and light fires so the witches wouldn’t land on near your house. Nowadays, Swedish Easter witches are kids walking from house to house dressed in scarfs and rags with a copper teapot collecting treats from neighbors in exchange for drawings.

This year I even found devil chickens to accompany my Easter witch:

photo(4)

2013-03-24 21.51.08

2013-03-30 11.24.05

Freaky. Thankfully the cute type are still around:

2013-03-31 16.35.59

And then we have the edible type that my husband expertly crafted:

2013-03-29 16.28.51

Behind the scenes, making of:

photo(6)

As with every Swedish Holiday, the smörgåsbord is beautiful and delicious:

2013-03-29 17.16.29

With a little extra eggs (Hard and soft boiled)  on the table, Påskmust (Easter soda) and schnaps. it is an Easter meal.

2013-03-29 17.22.54

We rounded the night off with some monopoly…guess who won!?

photo(7)

Hope everyone had a great holiday!!

Read about last years Easter Here!


4 Comments

Lately & Two Swedish Words That Explain Why I’ve Been Missing

Remember when Something Swedish was updated all the time? Those were the days. I’m not complaining though – I’m finally more settled into my Swedish life with things to do, places to go and people to see.

I always have things to write about Sweden, because everyday is still an adventure. I read the newspaper more and learn more interesting things that I want to share. I have tons of ideas about posts, some half written, some scribbled in a notebook. Some time sensitive ones that slip between my fingers.

Then why have I been missing?  I’ll describe it with two Swedish words:

2013-03-24 14.25.28

“Hinner” & “Orkar”.

These words don”t have direct word to word translations from English to Swedish, but are easy to understand and explain.

Hinner = to have time.
Orka =to have energy to/to be able to/to manage to

So, when “hinner” or “orkar” are negated (inte) it means that I can’t find the time or the energy.

“Förlåt, jag hinner inte. Jag orkar inte att skriva idag.”
(Sorry, I don’t have time. I don’t have the energy to write today)

_______________________________________

Lately life has been centered around studying, working, and socializing – the way life should be!

Firstly, St. Patty’s day. Last year (here) I pointed out that it’s important to hold onto traditions even in a new country that doesn’t do things the same way. I started to create St. Patty’s day instead of just celebrating it. This year I extended our celebration and made a bigger dinner and celebrated with friends. A St. Patty’s Day care package from family arrived, we drank green beer, ate corn beef and cabbage, soda bread, colcannon, stekfläsk, and a chocolate Guiness cake! (Click photos to enlarge)

2013-03-01 16.17.352013-03-17 18.10.132013-03-17 18.26.082013-03-17 21.27.14 2013-03-17 18.25.342013-03-17 18.33.412013-03-17 19.26.41 2013-03-17 19.43.48

Secondly, this month was Bokrea – which I wrote all about last year: here. Basically, it’s a country wide book sale. We picked up a mix of books, some English, some Swedish – not that I’ve had time (Jag har inte hunnit) to open any of them yet. We found Swedish graphic novels of Dracula and Tom Sawyer, a pile of Swedish audio books, and a young adult novel by one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, translated to Swedish. Once I’m done with Svenska som Andra Språk (which is going smoothly – I’ve stared the third level) I’ll make sure that my “studying” consists more of leisurely reading of the Swedish books I’ve bought.

2013-02-26 18.24.462013-03-06 11.42.56 2013-03-24 13.41.362013-03-06 11.39.13

This month has been filled with new friends and a lot of fikas! Both at cafes and at home with the hubby:

2013-03-08 15.20.23 2013-03-16 15.38.06 2013-02-18 22.29.012013-03-12 19.20.27

Life is good. I promise to share it more often again. I was being greedy.


7 Comments

Another New Year

Welcome to 2013, everyone! I’m almost sad to see 2012 go, as it was a fantastic year for me – but here’s hoping that 2013 is even better!

2012-12-31 21.52.56

Celebrating New Years in Sweden means one thing: Fireworks – everywhere!

2012-12-31 23.59.482

2013-01-01 00.05.312

During the amazing fun New Years Party filled with drinking, laughing, and dancing on the 6th floor (with a balcony), we had a great view of the fireworks. You could hear the excitement build up throughout the day as a few fireworks would be set off here and there, impatiently waiting for the grand finale at midnight. In fact, you can hear the occasional firework the whole week between Christmas and New Years. We even went down stairs and set off a few of our own!

2012 was my first full year living abroad in Sweden filled with adjusting, learning, struggles, accomplishments, and meeting a lot of great new friends.

Last year I:

~ learned a foreign language well enough to use in simple everyday conversations, read (some) newspapers, write (short) letters, and understand the world around me a little better.

~ completed S.F.I, Swedish For Immigrants, class!

~ registered to start my next step towards fluency – S.A.S, Swedish as a Second Language, on January 14th.

~ watched and understood at least ten movies in Swedish with Swedish subtitles.

~ went on three interviews, one of which was completely in Swedish.

~ volunteered at a Swedish school for a week, substituted for two days – got my first Swedish paycheck.

~ learned how to cook & found out that I love doing it, and I’m not too bad at it either.

~ hosted my very first Thanksgiving dinner in a country that doesn’t even celebrate it.

~ celebrated Swedish holidays Valborg and Lucia for the first time.

~ gotten used to Swedish weather, culture, food, and mannerisms.

~ made dozens of new friends, both native Swedish and Swedish immigrants from all around the world.

~ started this blog and have met wonderful people through it!

Towards the end of the year I even reconnected with something I love doing, but haven’t bothered with since I moved to Sweden – Making cards! I made 24 cards right before Christmas and sent 14 out to the U.S for friends and family. Getting back into crafting is something I’m aiming for in 2013:

2012-12-17 10.06.322012-12-17 10.07.112012-12-17 10.07.222012-12-17 10.08.052012-12-17 10.09.372012-12-22 17.58.542012-12-17 10.09.072012-12-22 17.55.45 2012-12-17 10.09.172012-12-20 13.03.102012-12-17 10.07.332012-12-17 10.05.242012-12-17 10.07.48  2012-12-17 10.08.252012-12-17 10.06.162012-12-17 10.08.52 2012-12-22 17.54.302012-12-17 10.09.49

Aside from try to reconnect with my artistic side, instead of making New Year Resolutions we decided to choose one or two words to “live by” in 2013. Mine are: Success & Fit. I’m ready!

What New Years Resolutions did you make?


22 Comments

Halloween in Sweden

Growing up in New York Halloween meant dressing up for costume parties, bobbing for apples, and trick or treating door to door. Even stores and businesses stock up candy to give to the kids. When I was a little older Halloween was more about the massive candy sales, carving jack o’lanterns, and decorating with gravestones, half buried skeletons, glow in the dark eyes, and cobwebs. You can’t go anywhere without seeing spooky decorations everywhere.

Pumpkin Picking Two Years Ago vs. “Bobbing for Pumpkins” This Year

The cashiers literary didn’t know how to ring it up or what to charge.

Halloween in Sweden just isn’t the same. There’s the occasional costume party. Some bars have Halloween themed nights. But… there’s no decorated houses, porches or windows. No Pop-up Halloween stores to excitedly browse. No gigantic bags of individually wrapped candy that will be half price in a week. No candy corn. No haunted houses. No pumpkin patches to find the perfect pumpkin. No excited trick or treaters. (So Far)

Thankfully, our local bakery bakes Halloween themed cakes:

The Americanized Halloween traditions I’m so used to were introduced to Sweden in the 1990′s, supposedly from Hard Rock Cafe and a Swedish year-round costume chain called “Buttericks”, but American traditions are also widely known and sometimes mimicked in Sweden through TV and Movies. With all the hype and festivities, a lot of people forget that Halloween is not an American holiday, but instead has Pagan (fall harvest festival of Samhain) and Christian (All Saints Eve/ All Hallows’ Eve) roots, which was brought to America by the surge of Irish immigrants in the 19th century and became mainstream in the 20th century.

Similarly to Valentines day (Read Here), Halloween is observed and known in Sweden, but not nearly to the same extent. This is ALL of the Halloween stuff I could find  in town, aside from a couple bars and bakeries:

I’ve read a few interesting reasons why Sweden hasn’t jumped on the Halloween bandwagon:

1) All Saints Day is traditionally observed here, which is a time to pay respect to saints, visit the graves of loved ones, and light candles in remembrance. The two holidays conflict too much, as the contrast between them is too drastic. Some think they are the same day, but they are not. Alla Helgons Dag = All Saints Day Alla Helgons Afton (eve) = Halloween

2) Many people here view Halloween as only celebrating with scary costumes such as skeletons, ghosts, witches, and zombies (From the few Halloween costumes I’ve found in stores I’ve never seen anything cute and fun like princess’s, cowboys, cartoon characters, or superheroes) Too many “Tricks” are associated as part of the regular tradition, such as toilet papering and throwing rotten eggs. This seems to discourage parents.

3) Youngsters in Sweden dress up as witches for Easter (Read here), starsholders for Lucia, and gingerbread cookies for Christmas. Another costume? No Thanks.

4) Trick or Treating is pointless when Swedes have a huge  lösgodis (Loose candy) consumption and buy candy regularly.

Some confusion about the “When” is also a part of the Swedish Halloween downfall. While some people celebrate on the “traditional” or “popular” date October 31st, some Swedes will still celebrate Halloween on the eve of All Saints Day, even though it is now a floating date -  the first Saturday between October 31st and November 6th. I’ve read stories of expats being very confused about finally receiving their first ever trick or treaters, but it was almost a week later and they weren’t prepared. There are also some school parties or bar themed parties the weekend BEFORE, which spreads out the holiday celebration even thinner.

I was sad to hear that carving pumpkins is also not too common (I’ve seen two outside of a toy store), and many Swedes have never carved a pumpkin! I couldn’t resist the tradition- and it turns out my husband HAS carved pumpkins and is quite skilled at it!

I just stumbled upon a website for a pumpkin patch  in Sweden that an American started in 1998: Louie’s Pumpkin Patch  It might be something to check out next year!

Additionally the island of Öland has a yearly fall harvest festival Skördefest during the last days on September, which looks like fun! Öland  is known for the Swedish pumpkin growing, and has expanded since the introduction of Halloween.

I dressed up a little witchy to celebrate All Hallows Eve, and was met with strange looks. Maybe because it was during the day. I’ve heard reports from classmates of spotting other people dressed up, but haven’t seen more than two.

 

My earrings are cute spiders…because the devil is in the details :)

Next year I’m having a Halloween party to bring the celebration to ME.

In the meantime, I’m planning Thanksgiving Dinner for my Swedish family! Any tips?

Happy Halloween Everyone! *And a lot of love and prayers to those who lost so so much in Hurricane Sandy, I am thankful that my friends and family only sustained minimal damage but NYC as a whole is on my mind – Halloween has been a needed distraction.*

Vocabulary

Halloween – Alla Helgons Afton
To Celebrate – Att Fira
Pumpkin – Pumpa
Candle – Ljus
Costume -  Maskeraddräkt
Witch – Häxa
Spider – Spindel
Ghost – Spöke


21 Comments

Swedish Cake Culture

This week my husband came home with flowers and a cake for me because I took my SFI C test to move onto the next Swedish course and am very positive about it.

Having cake in Sweden is a very traditional was of celebrating, but it is a little different than I am used to. If I were truly Swedish, I would have bought my own cake.

Whenever someone has a birthday, achieves something, gets a promotion, graduates, etc.,  it is that person who buys or brings their own cake to celebrate. No need to worry about who will bring the cake,  it is always the person of honor. The upside is you can always buy your favorite type of cake for your own special occasion, instead of pretending to enjoy the flavor someone else picked out (Although, don’t we all buy princess tarta anyway?).

This tradition is very strange for me (And other expats I’ve met), as I wouldn’t ever think about buying my own cake in the U.S., but wait for some one else to do it.

If you are congratulating someone is  Swedish you would say “Grattis!,” but if you say “Gratis” instead you are saying Free.


8 Comments

Swedens National Day

Blue and yellow flags everywhere you look- Swedish pride is soaring today!

Even Google Waved its Swedish Flag!

Sweden celebrates June 6th because it marks the date when Gustav Vasa became King in 1523, making Sweden independent from Denmark and Norway for the first time. Also, on June 6th in 1809 Sweden adopted a new constitution.  Sveriges Nationaldag is a new name for the holiday, from 1916-1983 it was called Svenska flaggans dag (Swedish Flag day). This National Day has only recently become a red day, meaning a day off, since 2005. Swedes are known for not being overly boastful, so in an effort to make the holiday more popular the government decided to make it a red day so the people have the day off to celebrate. Being so new, many surveys have revealed that many Swedes still don’t know how to observe it and just enjoy the day off. Some people celebrate by watching the Royal family’s ceremony in Stockholm. Most people consider Mid Summer to be their national day for celebration.

Today I went out in hopes of finding something special for the occasion – but was only met with closed stores and empty streets. Red days make Halmstad a ghost town, but I was determined to do something to celebrate my first Nationaldag in Sweden. I decided to play Swedish Flag Scavenger Hunt in town.

I thought it would be a good day to visit one of my favorite places, an open air museum with old Swedish cottages. It is up on a high “mountain” which gives a great view of the city. To my delight, this is exactly where the rest of the town was! I finally found the celebration – and people, and flag jackpot! I couldn’t understand the speeches or songs, but  I didn’t need to. Just seeing everyone waving Swedish flags, listening, laughing, clapping, and being proud was enough.

Years ago there was a competition to create the national pastry to be eaten on this very special day,  it is called Nationaldagsbakelsen. But many people don’t know about it, it seems. Even googling for it is a challenge. All I can gather is that there are Strawberries and Almond paste. In hopes to eat this national specialty I went to the bakery in the morning, thinking it would be much like the semla craze, but alas the bakery was closed along with all other stores since it is a red day. No wonder this cake is so elusive and unknown, how should one be introduced to a special cake if the bakeries are closed on the day you should be eating it? Of course, there are recipes and perhaps people buy it the day before?

I decided to make my own version:

I might have cheated with a small premade snake cake (perfect size for two people who love cake), but I cut it in half and added a nice layer of Almond paste to make it special and even more Swedish. If it was a full size cake I would have added strawberry slices around the flag of blueberries and banana, but I think it was a huge success! Hubby came home with blue and (unbloomed) yellow flowers and a wooden Swedish flag so I have a keepsake from my first Nationaldag!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 518 other followers