Holiday's of sweden


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Holiday's of sweden

  1. 1. ! Roth 1 Stephanie Roth Ms. Flowers Honors English Eleven April 14, 2011 Holidays of Sweden The Scandinavian country of Sweden is located next to Norway near the Arctic Cir- cle. Sweden is covered by vast forests and filled with “beautiful lakes, snow-capped mountains, swift rivers, and rocky off shore islands” (Kent). Not only does this country have unique geography, but it has unique holidays, too. Sweden is a country well known for its distinct holidays that play a crucial role in the culture and everyday lives of the people. One distinct holiday of Sweden is St. Lucia Day. Traditionally, Swedes celebrate St. Lucia Day on December 13 (Riehecky 19). This day is very important in the Swedish culture because it is the start of their Christmas season (Grahame 39). Historically, St. Lucia Day honors a woman, Lucia, who lived hundreds of years ago. Lucia spent her time helping the needy and serving them food (Riecky 19). Because her name trans- lates to “light” in Latin, Swedes commonly call this holiday the festival of lights (Gra- hame 39). Along with an important historical origination, St. Lucia Day has multiple traditions that Swedes observe. First thing in the morning, when the eldest girl of the family awakens she dresses up as St. Lucia. Around her waist she ties a red sash, on her head she places a crown made of leaves, and within the crown are candles. The oldest girl is not the only one who gets to dress up. The younger girls dress simply in a whiteStephanie Roth Thursday, May 12, 2011 8:32:13 AM ET 34:15:9e:1c:ae:06
  2. 2. ! Roth 2 dress while the boys dress up as star boys. Star boys wear a long hat embellished with stars and carry a wand topped with a star (Riehecky 19). Even though the other chil- dren get to participate; only the eldest girl is able to partake in the privileges of serving food. After she dresses appropriately, the eldest daughter begins to prepare breakfast for her parents. She prepares coffee, buns, and ginger cookies (Grahame 39). Tradition- ally, mull, a hot spiced wine, will be served along side the other food, too (Kent). When it comes time to serve the food, the eldest daughter carries the tray while the younger sis- ters follow behind as maids (Grahame 39). Later in the day, children visit hospitals and assisted living facilities to spread the holiday cheer. Residents are served food while they listen to the children sing songs about St. Lucia (Riehecky 19). Commonly, when the children visit these places they hand out Lucia Cats. Lucia Cats are a sweet saffron roll topped off with raisins (Grahame 39). Overall, St. Lucia Day is a holiday that helps shape the Swedish culture with traditional food and clothes. Another holiday of Sweden that plays a crucial roll in their culture is Easter. Unlike other countries, Swedes consider Easter to be three days long, lasting from Good Fri- day until Easter Sunday. On Good Friday, Swedes celebrate solemnly by attending re- ligious services and reciting prayers. Swedes take this day very seriously, not even al- lowing children to play. The children are not able to engage in any activities such as tag or coloring. This is much different from the overall feel of a Swedish Easter. The Swed- ish Easter is a joyful time full of many traditions. During the Easter holiday, Swedish families decorate their homes with paskvippor, vibrant colored feathers on twigs and branches (Grahame 35). Swedes place paskvippor in vases hoping that spring will startStephanie Roth Thursday, May 12, 2011 8:32:13 AM ET 34:15:9e:1c:ae:06
  3. 3. ! Roth 3 earlier (Karlmark). This is only one way that Swedenʼs Easter is distinct from many other countries. Another way that makes Swedes Easter distinctive is the clothes they wear. On Easter Sunday, children walk around town dressed as witches, wearing rags and wigs. As children walk around town they carry pots receiving money from adults. To Ameri- cans, this may seem out of place for Easter, but there is meaning behind it all. Long ago, Swedes believed that witches flew on their brooms on Easter to meet the devil. Today, the act of the children walking around town represents witches meeting the devil. Families also boil and decorate eggs prior to Easter. Later on Easter Sunday, families peel and eat the hard boiled eggs (Grahame 35). Speaking of food, Swedes serve smorgasbord style on Easter Sunday; a table is filled with a variety of foods, including: sandwiches, desserts, butter, fish, and bread (Grahame 20). Besides smorgasbord, many Swedes sit down and enjoy a family meal of lamb after the Easter service on Sunday (Grahame 35). Easter is holiday that people all over the world celebrate, but only Swedes dress as witches and decorate their homes with paskvippor. Midsummer is another distinct holiday of Sweden that helps shape the lives of the people. The festivals of Midsummer last from June 21 through the 23 (Williams 25). Even though the festivals last for a few days, Midsummer lasts for only one. Further- more, Midsummer takes place in the middle of summer, which is the summer solstice. This day just happens to be the longest day of the year (“We are from Sweden”). Dur- ing the summer solstice there are twenty-three hours of sunlight (Williams 24). Having all this sunlight, it is only natural that Midsummer celebrates the welcoming of the sum- mer season (Grahame 36).Stephanie Roth Thursday, May 12, 2011 8:32:13 AM ET 34:15:9e:1c:ae:06
  4. 4. ! Roth 4 Todayʼs Midsummer differentiates from the Midsummer held during the Vikings age. In fact, the Vikings celebrated Midsummer in hopes of plentiful harvests during the fall (“We are from Sweden”). Nowadays on Midsummer, Swedes decorate their homes and churches with fresh flowers (Grahame 36). During the day, Swedes have picnics (Gra- hame 36) with friends and family. At the picnic, traditional foods, such as herring and fresh potatoes are served (“We are from Sweden”). After eating, Swedes gather to- gether to dance around maypoles, (Grahame 36) tall poles decorated with greenery, flowers, and ribbons. While dancing about, the dancers grasp onto the ribbon. Then as they begin to move in circles, the ribbons weave themselves into intricate patterns (“Maypole Dance”). Midsummer is full of traditions that embrace the anticipation of the coming summer . Overall, Sweden is a country with many distinct holidays that help shape the culture and the lives of Swedes. On St. Lucia Day the eldest daughter serves coffee and sweet rolls to her parents. During Easter, children dress up as witches and ask for money. While on Midsummer, families and friends gather together to dance around maypoles. There are many other holidays in Sweden, but St. Lucia Day, Easter, and Midsummer capture the essence of Swedish culture the best.Stephanie Roth Thursday, May 12, 2011 8:32:13 AM ET 34:15:9e:1c:ae:06
  5. 5. ! Roth 5 Work Cited Grahame, Deborah. Discovering Cultures Sweden. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish ! Corporation, 2007. Print. Karlmark, Gisela. "Hunting Down Easter in Sweden." Sweden.SE. N.p., 13 Apr. 2006. ! ! Web. 18 Apr. 2011. !! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Kent, Neil. "Sweden." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2011. Web.  11 Apr. 2011. "Maypole Dance" Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edi! ! tion. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. ! <>. Riehecky, Janet. Countries of the World. Mankato, MN: Bridgestone Books, 2001. Print. "We are from Sweden." Channel of Four Learning. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. <http:// !>. Williams, Brian , and Gunilla Borén. Guide to Sweden. Jackson, TN: Davidson Titles, ! ! 2000. !Print.Stephanie Roth Thursday, May 12, 2011 8:32:13 AM ET 34:15:9e:1c:ae:06