06 January 2006

The Swedish Christmas

jupp... my first ever christmas away from home.

my first christmas where I didn't go on a 2-3 hour ride to Chatham for family gatherings.
my first chirstmas where I celebrated it on the 24th, instead of 25th...
my first christmas without a 25lb stuffed turkey

since, this past year has been one big learning experience for me, and of course the christmas season was no exception either. As I said in my post about a month ago, Swedish people's perspective on christmas are much more traditional when it comes to food, decorations and and more...

Right after I got back from Belgium, everyday was just Christmas this and Christmas that. Everytime I met someone or left someone's house or whatever, I was obligated to say "God Jul" (in swedish it means " Merry Christmas"). I know back home, we do say Merry Christmas to eachother but I just feel that the swedes say it so much more often than we do or maybe it's just me?

Yah, the day after I returned from Belgium, I went to this Saint Lucia ceremony.... Saint Lucia is one of Sweden's biggest tradition, before I explain what Saint Lucia is all about I should warn you that I have gotten many different stories about how Saint Lucia became a big tradition. Something about her becoming a Saint in Italy after saving children during the Christmas eve and some other strange stories but there is one story that seems far more plausible than others so that is the story I will explain here; You know how I have complained about how early it gets dark here during the winter season... and of course you know how weather affects the people... centuries ago there was a special woman that had candles on top of something similar to a tiara (or a crown) on her head with a white robe and red sash wrapped around her and sang songs while walking around to brighten up her village, to ward off the darkness and some more blasphemy :S you can read more about it on this website. Anyway, this tradition still is very important to this day and the Stockholm Deaf House usually hosts a St. Lucia day, they have elections of who should become the Saint Lucia for each year, this year Jenny Ingvarsson (Elisabet's friend) won it. I saw the ceremony, to be honest, I thought it was kinda pointless but but but, I applaud and respect the fact that Sweden are doing everything it takes to preserve their country's historical and culture values. I just can't imagine Canada having something like that since Canada's a baby country when compared to these countries in Europe.

Ah, i just tried to find some pictures for the St.Lucia ceremony, and there isnt any on this computer... oh well... :)

Julbord... a rough translation would be "christmas dinner", is very different here... they worship meatballs, salmon, minihotdogs, cold ham, herrings with potatoes, red cabbage with rice and some bright pink food thingy that I don't know what was in it..... I know I should have asked but... yup I got pictures of the food coming up! :) (you can see the pink food in front of me)

After that, it was gifts time! :D... One other traditional difference is that Swedes usually have a friend or pick someone within a family to dress up and act as a Santa, giving out gifts under the tree... Since christmas are celebrated on the 24th evenings, they dont have that "children-waking-up-at-5am-and-running-down-the-stairs-to-see-the-presents" thing but in effort to uphold the Santa Claus belief, they get someone to dress up and visit the family then the children will think they actually met santa claus on christmas!! ... :)... This year, Maria (Elisabet's sister) had the honour of being the Santa Claus, even though there wasn't any children in the family anymore but they wanted to keep the tradition going... as they say, it wouldnt be christmas without santa claus visiting...

I got some nice stuff, gym shoes, movie tickets, hockey tickets and some more stuff but my best gift would be getting a new Swedish ID from Elisabet :)... its an official identification card like those in Canada for people who doesnt have drivers license. I think I am becoming more Swedish as each month goes by, I live here, I go to school here, I work here, I pay taxes (income and sales tax) here, I have a bank account here, I have a personnummer (similar to SIN), and now I have a swedish ID :D

I gave Elisabet exercise clothes, a bag (she later exchanged it for a better bag -- i liked the new bag than the one I gave her though heh), a book and a "scrap book" that I had been working on for days, it consists of 30 pages each with a single photo of nothing but Elisabet and me in it chronciling our life together since we first met. The first page had the very first photo of us from Rochester and the last page had the most recent photo of us and each pages were in chronological order. I think Elisabet liked the scrap book the best :p Here is a picture of me with Elisabet reading the book I gave her for xmas.

After the gifts, there was non-stop supply of sweets, candies, pastries... u name it, it was on the table... I think I have gained so much weight during the week of christmas.... jeez, come spring, I will have to work hard again hehe :)

Anyway, one of the gifts Elisabet and I got were a poker set from her uncle... even though I loathe card games I thought it was fun to just "have" it :D heh... then everybody wanted to put the poker set into use immediately so we played poker for few hours... I bowed out early (possibly intentionally heh...).

Christmas here is different, just as many things I have encountered during the year... I think I've learned alot especially how to appreciate the different things in life. Not everything has to be "just so" in life.... everybody needs to leave lots of room from flexiblity and of course I'm not talking about just Christmas... everything in life is different depending on the time and place of where you are. Ah before the chrismas sensibilities gets to me and I start blabbing incohrently, I better upload some random images and log off :)

Here are Elisabet and I making meatballs for the dinner later that night.

Me and Ellie

Mattias and Maria

Sandor (Pappa), Nadi (Mamma), Dave

Maria, Elisabet

Morfar (Grandpa) and Mormor (Grandma) with Maria, Dave and Elisabet

Check out all of these sweets, you're only looking at the beginning :)...

Come back later to read more about my experiences in my next posts about Globen, Gullmarsplan and the News Year eve :)...



Buzzair said...

Cool name, Mattias :)

Brandon said...

Yeah, one of the many different/unique names here... for instance, Olle, Channah, Fredrik, Örjan, Mikko, Edit, Toffe, Elsa, Tobias and of course "Elisabet" :).

But one of the most strangest names I've ever encountered was meeting a man named Yngve, at first I thought I misunderstood what he fingerspelled, I had to ask him to spell out his name clearly, but it still was Y-N-G-V-E to me then I finally asked Elisabet to spell it in ASl... sure enough it was Yngve, it was so different, I couldn't imagine it was a person's name heh.

I also saw a norwegian man on tv named Odd July... hehe.. :)