Monday, December 15, 2008

Sta: Lucia

Hej Hej,

Well, Saturday was December 13th or Sta: Lucia day in Sweden. In most schools and work places the day would have been celebrated on Friday, with singing, lussekatt (saffron buns) and glögg (mulled wine)(well, maybe no glögg at the schools :) ). I attended B.'s departmental Luciatåg (Lucia train) on Friday. B. was dressed as a stjärngossar (star boy) and participated in the singing.

Here's a clip of the singing...

Saint Lucia/Lucy Day is celebrated on Dec. 13th, which was the shortest day of the year in the unreformed Julian Calendar. Lucia is one of the few saints celebrated by members of the Lutheran church. The Church of Sweden is Lutheran and most Swedes are members of the church - although I'm not sure how many actually attend church on a regular basis. The story of the saint comes from Sicily (so it beats me why they always try to find a blonde Lucia in Sweden, unless Sicilians are known for their blonde hair???). Lucia means light, and perhaps that's why Swedes chose to continue celebrating this saint. Winter is incredibly dark here, so anything that brings light has got to be good.

Generally, young girls dress in white robes with one girl chosen to be Lucia. Lucia wears a crown of candles (real candles!). And the remaining girls hold candles. The candles symbolize the fire that refused to take St. Luica's life when she was sentenced to be burned (she had to stabbed to death instead). Boys also participate but they dress up as stjärngossar (like B. although lab coats are not necessarily the official costume of a starboy), tomtenissar (Santa's little helpers in red Santa-like suits) or as gingerbread men.

If you'd like to read the full story of Lucia Day you can find it here and for more background on the Saint herself you can check out this link: St. Lucy.

Today, the sun is shining, for the first time in what feels like a month, although I'm told it peeped out briefly last Sunday, but since I was in Stockholm on Sunday I must have missed it! I'm going to try and get out and enjoy a moment in the sun while I can. I hear its snowing in Vancouver, joy of joys. The gods must be trying to spite me :)

6 days until lift off...
God Jul,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A little bit of silliness

Hej hej,

If we can't laugh at ourselves, who can we laugh at?

A little bit of silliness to cheer you up on a grey day...(at least in Uppsala)

Vi ses snart! Twelve days to go!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jul i Sverige

Hej Hej,

Last weekend was a busy one. It was B.'s 30th b-day on Sunday so we went bowling (alongside about 4 little kids b-day parties - I just love watching little kid's bowling with giant 10-pin bowling balls) for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Then the group of us went to watch the fireworks. No, no I didn't organize them for B.'s b-day, it was just an advent celebration since Sunday was the 1st Sunday of advent. After that we had our bowling buddies along with about 7 more friends over for a sushi and wing supper. It was fun and although B. missed his friends from home he had a great time celebrating with all his new friends. Click here for some shots from the day!

Christmas (Jul) is a pretty big deal in Sweden. The first weekend of advent everyone puts up their stars in their windows and lights the first of four advent candles. The next candle is lit on the following Sunday, the third on the third Sunday, etc. Many families get together to celebrate the first of advent and attend a Christmas market or some event in their town. My friend, J. forwarded me this article about Christmas in Sweden... I thought it was an interesting read, especially since J. and I are headed to see nötknapparen (The Nutcracker) at the Stockholm Opera House tomorrow. It will be interesting to see the Swedish take on it.

Hope everyone is well! Two weeks until the trip home! Yikes!
Trevlig helg,