Tag archives for Holidays

Santa of the Year


Photo by: Minna Ridderstolpe/imagebank.sweden.se


Well, another Santa Winter Games has come and gone. This year’s competition, held every year in Gällivare, Sweden was held the weekend of November 17.

According to GellivareLapland.se , Gällivare is situated 100 kilometers north of the polar circle. They enjoy the Northern Lights in winter and midnight sun in the summer. Gällivare and the local small villages around it boast approximately 20, 000 citizens. They have apparently spent a lot of time measuring out things and the website says, “We have 15,825 square kilometers to move around on.”

Santas from all over the planet meet in Gällivare to vie for the title “Santa of the year”. The Santas spend the weekend doing tasks such as collecting wish lists, playing with kids, radiating Christmas spirit, and preparing for the heavy work of delivering all those presents in just one night. Read more » >>

You’re Celebrating on the Wrong Day!—and other things you didn’t know about Christmas in Sweden

It’s the night before Christmas, and all through the mouse, not a beach chair is stirring, not even a louse.

Wait, what!?!

Celebrating Christmas abroad can make you feel like things are, well, a little topsy-turvy.

You may have read about the way people celebrate in the country you’re living in, or you might be going into the day free of any knowledge or misconceptions. Regardless of which category you fall under, there will come a point in the day when you look around you and think to yourself:

Now what exactly is going on here?

Last week, I was invited to be on a radio show with two Swedish comedians to talk about the differences between American and Swedish Christmas traditions as I perceived them. I had some thoughts at that time, but now that I’ve actually experienced my first Christmas in Sweden, I’m ready to tell it like it is.

You’re celebrating on the wrong day Read more » >>

Happy Lucia Day!

Happy Lucia Day from Sweden, where you’re never more than two months away from a major holiday, and only a few thousand years separate a beautiful modern tradition from a brutal (and widely forgotten) historical event.

Around the country today, parents were woken up by their children dressed in white and serving them breakfast in bed. (This holiday will most definitely be celebrated in our family when, a very long time from now, we have kids.) Then it’s off to school, where the children will participate in at least one Lussetåg, or Lucia Parade. They may even visit hospitals and local businesses, and many children’s choirs do public performances in the local churches, which will probably see as much or more public on Lucia Day as they will on Christmas or Easter.

I have to admit, from an outsider’s perspective, the Lussetåg looks like a slightly cultish Halloween parade. Both the boys and the girls are dressed all in white, but the girls wear wreaths on their heads and carry candles while the boys have bedazzled cone-shaped hats perched on their heads and carry what look like wands with stars shooting out of them. The boys look a lot like Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice… magic wizards! Read more » >>

ALERT! Test yourself for these symptoms of Holiday Spirit Fever


A fever has hit Sweden. (No, not the one I caught last week that turned me into a whimpering, slobbering mess for three days.) I’m talking about the fever of HOLIDAY SPIRIT that has infected all my friends and, inevitably, me. It’s a contagion, I tell you! An epidemic!

It was back in September that I first heard the rumblings of something momentous headed my way. I ignored that creeping sense of unease, however, and continued on in my daily life, unaware that there was an actual date when all these symptoms lurking beneath the surface would converge and erupt in a massive display of HOLIDAY SPIRIT FEVER. Read more » >>

It’s, like, National Day or whatever

A lot of my posts over the last couple of months have had something to do with holidays, which might give you the impression that this country has a lot of random celebrations. This impression would be 100% true.

Not only that, there is an incredible number of Christian holidays in this ambivalent-towards-religion country. For example, last Thursday was Kristi Himmelsfärds Dag, or Ascension Day in English. This holiday celebrates, as we all know, the ascension of Jesus into heaven, which occurred forty days after he rose from the dead on Easter. As far as I can tell, the biggest celebrations taking place that day were by university students who had finished their last exams the day before—not the most pious of celebrations, might I add.

Most adorable baby in Swedish folk costume ever! Photo from littlescandinavian.com

Fast forward to today: National Day. I’m imagining fireworks, parades, marching bands, orchestrated explosions…

Not so much. I’ve asked a lot of friends about National Day–what it means and how they’ll celebrate–and the response has been the equivalent of a collective “Meh.” People are not that into it! Not exactly what I expected.

As it turns out, National Day is one of the few holidays in Sweden without much history or tradition. It only became an official holiday in 2005, which is part of why people are at a loss as to how to celebrate it. No one grew up with it, and it seems a little forced in comparison to all the other longstanding holidays. Before 2005, National Day was just called “Flag Day,” and you didn’t get time off from work for it, which obviously means its not much of a holiday.

As for the date, usually chosen for meaningful reasons, it commemorates both the election of Gustav Vasa as King in 1523, which “laid the foundation of Sweden as an independent state,” and the ratification of the 1809 Constitution, which established civil rights and liberties. Both fine things, but sort of lacking the punch and rah-rah value of, say, kicking the British back across the Atlantic, storming the Bastille, or something of that nature.

Plus, for some reason Swedish people seem a little skeptical of the whole “overt nationalism” thing that goes along with a national day. It’s one thing to get all “Well, yes, we solved poverty and invented Skype and if only you would let us be in charge of the UN we could probably fix the world too.” It’s another to march around saying “Boo-yah Sweden.” I don’t quite follow the reasoning, but when you are persistent in asking questions about this you hear some mutters about right wing parties and not wanting to be associated with bad people. It seems like there’s this quietly-enforced restraint in celebrating “Swedishness” too vehemently.

By far the most exciting part for me are the folk dresses. The royal family always celebrates in Stockholm, and Queen Silvia totally rocks a Swedish folk dress. Thank goodness for Lola being in Stockholm to document the royal family Swedish folk dress mania… wish I could have been there to see it myself. Instead, I just got to daydream about the dress I’m going to buy my poor first born when the time comes. How cute is that little baby??