Monthly archives: June 2012

An Atypical Midsummer at Skansen in Stockholm

In my last post, I wrote a brief outline of how Midsummer usually goes down. The traditional Midsummer party is often a thoroughly-planned and well-orchestrated event, with each activity and food occupying a certain allotted space in the schedule.

Drinks! Games! Herring! Singles sneaking away to surreptitiously dive into the bushes!

This year, Midsummer was different. It was totally unscripted, for one. And it ended up with us serendipitously making new friends, rather than tucked away in a rural enclave of our nearest and dearest. Ask any Swede – that’s very strange.

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Drinking, carousing, and making merry: The Insider’s Guide to Midsummer in Sweden

It’s the day before the day before the day before Midsummer and all through the house, not a creature is stirring, not even a little frog that wants to hop around a very large fertility symbol.

This year, Midsummer has totally snuck up on me. What?! Midsummer?! Since when?!?!

If nothing else, the sun has been a gentle reminder that the summer solstice is on its way. I wake up every morning now to birds chirping and sunlight streaming in through the slats of of our bedroom curtains, feeling totally alert and ready to take on the day.

Then I look at the clock and realize that it’s 4:15 am. And then I curse my ineffective blinds.

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HEJA SVERIGE!! 101 Swedish words for Soccer Terms

As I was watching the Sweden-Ukraine game last week and simultaneously getting my heart broken into ten thousand tiny pieces (we didn’t do so well), I was also realizing that it can be really hard to watch a soccer game with friends without knowing WHAT ON EARTH THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT.

I don’t know why SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) doesn’t cover soccer vocabulary because it is obviously an extremely necessary set of words if you want to be able to hold a conversation any time in the month of June.

Also, since I’m probably already attracting derision from 85% of the readers of this post:

Yes, I am aware that you call it football in your language. Yes, I am aware that you play it with your feet. No, I do not care. I am American and I will continue to use my American words because that’s just how it comes out.

If I switch from saying “soccer” to “football” then I’ll have to start saying “pitch” instead of “field;” otherwise, the inconsistency will make me sound like an idiot.

Do you know how much work it would be to be like, What’s with their uniforms, I MEAN KIT or, in another situation, GET HIM!! I mean, tally-ho old chap, you might want to give defense a try one of these days. It would be a lot of work.

Also, I just don’t care about the football-soccer name debate. I’m just tired of people trying to debate it with me as though they have any chance of changing my mind.

Out of respect to the British English enthusiasts all over the world, however, I have included their terminology to the extent that I know it. Feel free to fill in the holes where necessary.

End of discussion.

Anyway, back to the terminology. Sweden did not play very well in their last game, and tonight they are playing England, which is by most accounts a far better team than Ukraine.

They are going to need your help.

So expats in Sweden, bone up on your Swedish today in preparation for the match tonight. And don’t forget the most important phrase of all: HEJA SVERIGE!!

ZLATAN! Sweden's best and most important player. Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

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And that’s how I ended up skinning a kilo of herring

For National Day last week, my friend Steve decided we should do something really Swedish.

Steve has made many appearances on this blog before: debating leaving modern life behind to become a Viking in Foteviken, hosting a massive American-style brunch at his house just to have an excuse to drink a pitcher of Bloody Mary, utilizing the Force in making gingerbread Christmas tree ornaments.

And now, thanks to Steve, we have crossed off yet another adventure in expat life in Sweden: pickling our own herring.

…and that’s how I ended up skinning a kilo of herring.

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Happy National Day!

Sweden is a country that goes crazy for baked goods on Cinnamon Bun Day in the fall and Holy Waffle Day in the spring. We have days off for holidays (both Christian and pagan) that are so old that no one even knows what we’re celebrating anymore.

When kids graduate from the Swedish equivalent to high school (gymnasium), their parents rent them a TRUCK and hire a driver to chauffeur them in very slow loops through the city while they (1) play techno music at full volume (2) scream and/or dance along (3) get drunk.

So you would think that National Day, with its great symbolic importance for the country, would be kind of a big deal. Read more » >>