|"Der 20.Tag Knut"
|"The twentieth day Knut"
|1. March Weekend
|Assumption of the Virgin Mary
|First of May
|Swedens National Holiday
|End of June
|Alla Helgons dag
|All Saints Day
|Gustav Adolfs Day
|Saint Martins Day
|2.Sonday in November
|Verleihung des Nobelpreises
|Nobel Price Award
|New years eve
In most countries Christmas time ends at Epiphany. Not so in Sweden where people believe it's a pity to end that early with celebrating, just taking one more week! The last day is then the 13th of January, which in the Swedish calendar carries the name "Knut". On that day Swedish families with their children plunder the Christmas tree, play games and eat cake.
When Sweden belonged to Denmark beinning of the 16th century, Gustav Vasa promoted the idea of a independant Sweden - going his way through the country. The danish king Christian II followed the rebell, who went further towards Norway. When the farmers from mora (Dalarna) finally decided in 1520 to follow Gustav Vasa, they sent two good sportsman on skis to motivate him to come back to Mora to fight against Christian II. And they succeeded.Today the 90 km distance from Sälen to Mora is used to symbolise that , and the Wasa-Run takes place now for 80 years on the first weekend in March.
On the weekend closest to summer solstice June 24st when
the night sky never darkens- maybe the most Swedish of all Swedish traditions. A
pagan rite - dancing around a maypole - as center of the
festival -bedecked with flowers and birch leaves - combined with herring and
potatoes together with plentiful Schnapps end up in a tremendous festival. Young
girls are wearing flowers in the hair, and unmarried ones place seven different
sorts of flowers below her pillows on this night to dream of her future husband.
Days before the event tribes of Swedes start in direction of summerhouses, Stockholms Archipelago - and the most traditional area - to Dalarna.
On the afternoon competitions and processions with children are in focus, later the adults gather for the dinner, which is "standardised" in terms of food. This base is used to get filled with beer and Aquavit afterwards, "Upp och ner" as well as the well known "Skål" can be heard the whole time. Music and dancing around the maypole get a must in that mood, and the Swedish summer can begin.
- is actually a Baltic sea herring - the strömming. This small fish on the other hand creates most controversary feelings in people: Hated and loved, depending on whom you ask. Reason is the time after the trawlers have caught the fisk: Just reduced by head and back fin it is compressed into a can - everthing else the dead fish can keep in its grave, where it starts to rot in weeks and months until the can looks more like a football. When the fish has signalised by extending his package in such a way that he got sour ("sur") it is sold and eaten. If you survive the smell. This is only possible by consuming before, during and after the dish tremendous amounts of Aquavit (i.e. to bring yourself into the condition of being weak-willed).
- 13th of December; Processions of young people with candleligths on their
heads, singing, lots of Glögg (alcoholic fruit punch taken with almonds and
raisins); Even in hotels you will get a glance on that culture if being there on
the morning of that day
A huge event, starting with newspapers opening a competition to vote for the best Lucia out of the proposals depicted in the papers (note: she must have blond hair!).
The winner leads the Lucia procession, while the "loosers" following
her, singing the traditional Christmas songs.
Lucia is dressed in a long, white shirt mit red band around the waist, carrying a garland of cranberry twigs on the head, on which candleligths are attached (intended to give the impression of a halo).
This type of setup can also happen in more private environments, such as schools or the family, where a special cake is served : Lussekatt ("Lucia cats"), a yeast pastry with saffron.
Origination of this tradition seems to be the German "Christkind" in
its white dress. On the other hand it is a "continued development" of
St. Nicolas, who in times of reformation was replaced by the German Christkind
to "avoid the Saint", and the distribution of presents was moved to
Christmas eve instead.
In the 17th and 18th century the Christkind could not keep "its position" for christmas, but was "moved" to the Lucia day in some Swedish areas. The name derives from the calendar day, 13th of December is the Lucia day.
In the 19th century pork meat and snaps were replaced by the mentioned pastry and coffee. The first Lucia procession took place in 1927 i Stockholm.
(Walpurgis Night) on the 30. April as a pagan festival celebrating the end of winter with huge bonfires and fireworks. If you are in Stockholm - try Skansen, where a lot of the culture and rites are demonstrated.