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Archive for April, 2011

Glad Påsk / Happy Easter

Our first hint that Easter was here was on Maundy Thursday, Skärtorsdagen in Swedish. Dating back to the 1400’s it was believed that on this day, witches flew to Blåkulla (Blue Mountain) on their brooms to dance with the devil himself. They flew back just in time for church on Sunday morning, to say their prayers backwards.  Some traditions tell of these witches stealing milk, with the help of the milk-hare, from other people’s cows (perhaps the origin of the Easter bunny bringing candy). In the late 1600’s, there was an epidemic of  witch trials, much like our witch trials in the States. Today, this is celebrated in a playful way by children dressing up as Easter witches in long skirts and headscarves with painted red cheeks and black freckles. They go from door to door looking for candy, much like the American Hallowe’en.

Another Easter tradition is decorating with multi-colored feathers on the ends of birch twigs. In the past it is said that on the morning of  Långfredagen (Long Friday or Good Friday) they would lash each other with the birch twigs as a remembrance of Christ’s sufferings. Eggs, the symbol of life and growth, were not allowed to be eaten during Lent when Sweden was Catholic. Thus, it became very popular to dye and eat eggs at this time of year.

Swedes seem to like to celebrate holidays on the eve before the holiday and Easter is no exception. So Easter here is celebrated on Saturday, Easter Eve. Easter seems to be sadly lacking in any religious significance. Some do go to church on Easter Eve, but it is mostly celebrated by getting together with family and friends. Many look forward to family reunions or a much longed for vacation. Candy is hidden in a colorful cardboard Easter eggs for the children to find. There’s a real feeling of the beginning of spring with parties and dinners in the homes of the Swedes, similar to America’s Memorial Day but without parades. For Swedes, Easter and the day after are celebrated by visiting with family and friends.

So, what did we do for Easter? Saturday, we decorated our Easter eggs by drawing symbols of Easter on one side and Christmas on the other side, reminding us that the promise of Christmas is fulfilled at Easter! We choose to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Sunday, as we did in the States. Jensina and Jiana woke up expecting to see their Easter baskets, but were sadly disappointed. They woke me (Gwen) up lamenting that the Easter bunny didn’t come to Sweden. I told them that maybe they needed to look a bit harder!! With a couple of hints, they happily found their Easter eggs filled with candy. With a good dose of candy in our blood, we were off to church. Sadly, there was very low attendance.  We had a nice Easter dinner together with a couple of friends, which helped us not to miss home quite as much.

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And then they were 6!!!

Well, one going-to-be huge dog wasn’t enough!!! LOL!! The girls have always wanted a dog and a cat. Guess what? Last weekend, Jensina found a  little kitty that was being given away for free!! After a few days, we decided we would try it! The catch is introducing the dog and cat!! Fortunately, this week the girls have off school for the Easter holiday so they are a great help! Misty is a 12 week old, adorable, gray kitten. I think we’ve all fallen in love with her, except for Frigg!! In the beginning, every time Misty saw Frigg, she would hiss and spit and put out her claws!! Frigg would try to get close enough to sniff her and bark like crazy!! Today, he picked up her cage and tried to walk away with her! It’s been comical! Of course, in order to keep Misty, we have to get Frigg and Misty to tolerate each other. They are doing better, but aren’t quite there yet!!! Enjoy the pictures!!!

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Bar-B-Q Luleå style

Northern Sweden has a unique season that they call spring-winter! It’s when there is still LOTS and LOTS of snow, but yet the sun shines bright and warm! During this season, it’s very popular to walk out on the ice road and have a nice bar-b-que. We didn’t want to miss this experience so we arranged for our small group to do this. It was soooooo fun!! Our group gathered our supplies – wood, lighting fluid, hot dogs, rolls, vegetables, chips, soda, etc. and started our walk of about a half hour. It was a very slushy walk as the snow and ice is beginning to melt from the warm sun.  Once we arrived, we could see that it is definitely spring as the grill was standing in about 10 cm (4 inches) of water. We had such a great time of relaxing fun. I hope you enjoy the slideshow!

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