Having moved to Sweden with children your family might want to listen to Swedish children’s music. Kid’s music is very much part of the cultural context, and apart from having fun a few bonuses to listening to it include
- learning the classic Swedish tunes
- following what they are singing at preschool (dagis) and school
- improving your Swedish while singing along
- acquiring intonation and pronunciation of Swedish
Barnplaneten (Children’s planet) provides lists in Spotify such as lists for classics, nap time, animals, play and dance as well as a teacher’s list.
Link to one of the song lists
Vetebröd. Sweet (yeasted) bread. Cardamom? Of course!
Vetebröd is a traditional component of the Swedish fika (drinking coffee and eating something sweet with it).
And the grammar.
It was believed that the Easter witches during the week of Easter flew to a place called Blåkulla and then back again. In order to try and scare them away on their return bon fires were lit. We still have the tradition of the fires, mostly on the West coast and south of Sweden. Fires are lit on the Saturday of Easter.
Last year I remember we had a very vivid discussion in my expat network about the Swedish tradition of dressing up as an Easter witch. People were appalled by the thought of it; seeing Easter witches as something dark and scary. It can be hard to understand and accept other culture’s traditions and it can be equally hard for a person familiar to them to get why they can be provoking or upsetting. We are usually so caught up with and used to the traditions (hence the word) that we don’t really think about the whys and hows and what it can possible look like to an outsider.
I tried to explain that the Easter dressing up is like Halloween – kids knock on doors, sometimes leaving a homemade Easter card and hope for candy in return. But we all have different references to witches (come on, we do!) and it wasn’t until I googled pictures of cute little Easter witches that we all agreed that it wasn’t such a bad thing after all! Boys and girls dress up in long colorful skirts and headscarves (the most important attribute) and red colored cheeks and lots of freckles. Lately we also see little Easter Men and Bunnies.
The word “påskkärring” actually does not even mean Easter witch but rather “Easter Old Woman”. There is very little in common with the witches people believed in during the 17th Century – also people did not drink coffee in Sweden at the time, and a dressed up kid usually carries a coffee pot around accompanying the broomstick; sometimes even a black cat.
So, when can you expect them to arrive – the kids, not the witches? On the West coast of Sweden it is mostly common to be visited by påskkärringar during Easter Saturday, whereas Thursday is more common in the rest of the country.
In Sweden we decorate twigs of birch with feathers for Easter. We usually put this “påskris” indoors, in a vase, but outdoors is seen too, and some people even decorate trees in the garden. I do. There is nothing else to cheer up the garden this time of year.
Not only feathers liven up the twigs; eggs are popular too, as are chickens.
Living a life where you meet people from different cultures and parts of the world equals living a life of constant discovery and learning. You taste new food, learn about other views of life and take part in fascinating traditions. I have written about Cinco de Mayo and Cheese fondue, of Fredagsmys and Midsummer. I have also pointed out, to myself, that a lot of traditions are food related :). I love trying new dishes, and gladly collect recipes from friends called Martha, google and … well, closer friends too.
Naomi has also been thinking about food secrets and hand-me-downs. If you’re an expat you know that it’s not only easily stored artifacts like recipes that is left behind when nomadic people set off on their next adventure. You can read about Naomi’s thoughts here and learn what some people have shared on their expatriate journeys.
Do you have any treasured expat hand-me-downs? Did you leave something behind?
Tulips are my favorite flowers. The first sign of spring during our long dark winters; the first pastel colors after the intense reds and greens of Christmas. I love them! But I´m not alone – tulips are popular in Sweden. Swedes buy most tulips per person in the world, adding up to one million per day. US is still the largest market but the buying pattern of the Swedes- often a bunch per week – is far from matched. So even buying flowers can be culturally different, as well as the value of the flower. We happily buy them for ourselves when we do our weekly grocery shopping, whereas in other countries they might be considered more exclusive. Today– Jan 15 – is the Day of the Tulip in Sweden – “Tulpanens dag”. And yes, I bought some today! In spite of my admiration for tulips I haven’t grown many of them in my garden over the years. You see, it is not only Swedish people that can’t resist them; they seem to be favorite food for part of our wildlife. Last fall though I planted quite a few which I will guard vigorously when the time comes. Actually, due to the mild winter, one or two are peaking up already. As an expat I was lucky to enjoy smaller, botanical tulips in one of my rented gardens.
Read more about tulips here, Tulpanguiden in Swedish, or just enjoy the pictures!
Small Swedish lesson:
en tulpan – a tulip
tulpaner – tulips
en blomma – a flower
blommor – flowers
en bukett – a bouquet
att slå ut – to bloom/to enter the flowering state
en utslagen tulpan – a blooming tulip
att sloka – to wilt, to flag
vissna – to wither, to shrivel
vissen – shrivelled
en rabatt – a flower bed
en dag – a day
Tulpanens dag – the Day of the Tulip
One of the best things with living in different countries, and being exposed to various cultures, is that you get a bunch of new traditions to take on. You can choose freely – adopt the ones that appeal to you and fit your regular schedule of celebrations. It can be big; it can be small. As an expat; try to celebrate with locals if you can. If you moved already, keep the traditions – sometimes they prove to grow even stronger!
In my case there seems to be a strong connection between traditions and food. Anyone else? This year, with a bunch of friends from different parts of the world, we decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo; because of the Mexican food. But we also looked up some information about the tradition, and background, so we all learnt something new. We had a wonderful evening and will most likely do it again.
Thanksgiving is coming up, closely followed by 1st of Advent. Again; food involved. But we must not forget the most important ingredients – people and the opportunities/excuses to get together!
What are your traditions? Have you started any new ones? What happens when you move – do the traditions grow in importance or do they tend to fade away? Would love to hear your comments!