Monday, April 23, 2007

A Swedish Easter ("Påsk")

After a quiet, calm and relatively peaceful winter, April has proved to be an exciting month so far. "Jätte spännande!" So, two weeks after the fact, I am finally addressing an important holiday in Sweden, "Påsk." (Blog hijackings and visits from Mom have a tendency to interrupt routines and schedules.)

Throughout Europe, and Sweden is no different, Easter is truly the glorification of the almighty egg. In the U.S., Easter eggs are popular and fun and hidden, but in Europe, ornately decorated, ever-present, larger-than-life or smaller-than-a-thimble Easter eggs are everywhere, coming in all forms and containing just about any treasure you can think of from candy to krona to jewelry.

The cultural celebration of Easter in Sweden, in addition to the egg, is centered around the long holiday weekend ("Long" Friday and Monday are "Red Days" or bank holidays), possibly visiting the country cottage/summer house for the first time since the previous summer and, if children are involved, dressing up in witch costumes (The Easter Hag), making paintings and drawings for the neighborhood, then exchanging these creations for, you guessed it, candy. Something similar to our Halloween, but steeped in much more history and tradition.

And, while I didn't personally have any children distributing drawings in exchange for candy, I was able to take in a very meaningful church service and experience a classic Swedish Påskbord (Julbord, smörgåsbord--you should be familiar with this by now) during Easter. And Mom's presence only made this year's Swedish Easter celebration that much better.

We're starting to hit a new season of Swedish holidays. In the next couple months, we will become pyromaniacs (April 30), display yet more flags than we already do (June 6) and dance around a Maypole singing songs and drinking yet more schnapps than we already do (June 23). You have a lot to look forward to here on Linköpinglivin.

The pictures, you ask? Despite an egg in every storefront and on every corner, I somehow managed to miss all of them on my camera, which presents an opportunity to share pictures which, let's be honest, are a lot more fun than pictures of eggs.

1. Family in Prague last weekend sending a message to various missing members...

2. A famous bridge in Stockholm, Skeppsholmsbron, overlooking Kungliga Slottet (The Royal Palace) and Gamla Stan in the late afternoon spring sun.

3. Southern California spring time roses taken in her garden and reminding me of my Grandma Dorothy who passed away in 2000, but not before attending a concert at Linköping's very own Domkyrkan during a tour of Scandinavia way back in 1983, 23 years before her then 10 year-old grandson would begin living, working and having a blast in this fantastic, little town. We know this from her travel diary, which of course means that Grandma would have been a blogger! Go Grandma!

4. My Dad on a recent trip to Budapest with the Danube in the background.

5. For all of you Todd fans out there, this is a picture from when he was dating Sheryl Crow.

"Glad Påsk" and Happy belated Easter, everyone.


Todd said...

There are a few things that I feel need further explanation from Sean...or his faithful Linkopinglivin' readers:

1. The equivalent to an Easter bunny is Sweden is an Easter Hag? Is there a story here or was this "translation-gone-awry" at some point in history?

2. Do Swedes drink anything other than Schnapps? Or is this just my brother?

3. Do Swedes ever work? So many holidays!!! (This is actually jealousy, no further explanation needed.)

4. Is there really a difference between "ä" and "å" ?

Please advise.

(And Sean, mentioning my relationship with Sheryl only resurfaces hurtful the paparazzi just started leaving me alone again.)

Anonymous said...

Pyromaniacs huh? Well, perhaps we are, but it's a very nice tradition =P


Skhor said... Todd actually date Sheryl Crow? 'Cause I doubt it...I'm pretty sure Sean would have brought that up in a meeting at least once.

It looks like you're having an amazing spring! Its good to know you are doing well.


Anonymous said...

You forgot some of the national holidays in May: Labor day (May 1) is a national holiday in Sweden, as is Ascension (May 17). Many Swedes also get the day between the holiday and the weekend off as well, a so called "klämdag" (squeeze day).

Anonymous said...

1. The Easter Hag is not the equivalent of but AS WELL as the Easter Bunny. We get both! Lucky us.

2. We do drink coffee when we fika, but schnapps att all other times;)

3. Work is considered overrated in Sweden.

4. Ä sounds like the "ai" in air and Å sounds like the "o" in or

Anonymous said...

u do take some wonderful pictures...
all these holidays are not just great opportunities to get away from work, but also often much needed reasons to gather the family together.

CR said...

Hey there Todd - I was going to email you to pick your brain about a few things but I can't see an email link. I live in Australia but am in the process of planning (or fighting through the decision-making process) of moving to Sweden. Not sure if this will be long-term or short. I don't have a job lined up for me or anything like that (this would ease a few concerns). Seeing your blog has made it all look even more inviting than I already anticipated. I have a friend in Sweden who says I should stay in Australia (but I think he is remembering the good old days of the 90s and through the fog of pleasant memories.

Anyway, not sure what happens with this comment now. Thanks for the blogging insight,