Christmas Decoration on my Door (2013: I added the reindeer and the little felt Santa, to the hanging to add a personal touch--Oh and the snow--that just shows that it was both snowing and blowing hard enough that it came all the way to the door, and clung to decoration, to add a realistic touch)
Called Julstacken, the Christmas sticks, these seven lights resemble the menorah, only in the opposite direction. Menorah is the upside down version, with--where the candles seem all at the same height). These go up usually on advent which is about four sundays before Christmas.
Another staple in Swedish Christmas Decorations is a star. Traditionally, a paper star either hanging in the windows or on a lamp stand, but now, they are also available in these handy wire frame stars, often wrapped in jute or nylon string. This one is run by batteries.
A wreath being sold in the Karlstad Market. 2013
Advent, comes four sundays before Christmas, is a time that sort of puts chrismtas, celebration and fun on everybody's mind. I first heard of it from my German host mom in Clarion. She told me that in Germany children were usually given this advent calendar, which they could open a day at a time, and each day had a gift for the children, which built up the excitement for the final day. Today, you can purchase calendars that are issue and gift specific, chocolates, baseball cards, barbie images, barbie accessories--thanks to the market ideology. Earlier they were created by mothers, today most of these are bought.
Here you can see some examples of Advent calendars ---All of the following images have been taken from the web.
A wooden Advent Calendar
One of the traditional Advent Calendars
But then, we are talking Sweden!! While commercialism is the buzzword everywhere, Sweden and I think Europe in general has maintained some level of traditional celebrations. So, my Swedish host mom called me today, 'Hey You want to go to the Alsters Jul Market? Alters Christmas Market?
No, I am in Göteberg, taking a class, remember. So, I spend my weekends here.
¨Oh...its advent today. E and Y came by for Advent Fika (coffee with something sweet to each).¨
Ÿeah, and we had Pappor Kakkor (gingerbread cookies, and truly-Swedish ones are the best--slim & crisp -they simply melt on your tongue?), and Ljus bulle and saffron bulle (saffron buns often baked in the shape of angels, or S!!)
Saffron buns--a very Swedish/Nordic-thing to eat around Christmas time, especially Santa Lucia (picture taken from http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/st_lucia_saffron_buns/
Picture taken from http://emmalindberg.vimedbarn.se/page/13/
You should get some for yourself too!!
¨Ÿes, I have been eating Pappor Kakkor for a while already!!¨
So, are you going to go to LIseberg in Göteberg.
Yes, I plan to, but get lazy when I back in the apartment. Its cold and I have so much to do.
'Yes, but you must'
We say our greetings and hang up.
I know I must go there, before I leave the city. But also because I want to get some footage of the Christmas celebrations.
As I sit down, I realise, this is the difference, Sweden is not religious, but it has taken all the best things, such as traditional celebrations, special foods, special days for eating those foods, including a strong, clean character --which earlier was connected to religion--and made them a marker of a good, well-lived life. So that is why even the young swedes are baking cakes in their dorms, most young women and men know how to cook, and year after year the simplicity of the festivals remains. They may have become more commercial (and sadly it looks like that it will continue, and another post will come on that later) but there is a beauty to hear someone say, 'Hej its kladkaka dag' (cocoa cake day)--and rush to the groceries for eggs and cocoa.
No one will complain if you don't --but that is the whole point of tradition, that it puts our minds in a certain state, and for a few minutes it is an out of body experience--memories, friends, smell of freshly cooked food, hugs, jokes and laughter--all the things associated with good'O times.
So let me wish you all a very happy advent, the beginning of the ending of the year---and may you all make new beautiful memories during this time!!