Monday, June 1, 2009

The Extremely Belated Christmas Post

Hello to anyone who might be reading this!

I know now that I'm not very good at keeping a blog. A testament to my blog-unfriendliness is my clear inability to figure out what is going on with the font in this blog. In spite of this,  I have managed to take many photos throughout my travels, and I'll begin uploading them here with some explanations. So even though I'm not the best at writing what I've been up to, you'll get to see it!

I had begun to draft a post for Christmas, but never completed it. I wanted to write a longer one, explaining all the different foods and behaviors. I got overwhelmed with classes and forgot about it! Christmas was an amazing cultural experience, particularly with respect to the food and decorations, so I'll begin with that.  Here's the bit that I wrote:

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! I stayed in Sweden for the holidays, and it was a really great experience!  A classmate from Japan and I stayed with Swedish friends and their family in Höör, which is a small town (bigger than Kailua) not far from Malmö.  Luckily for me, my friends’ parents were nice enough to show me what a Swedish Chrismas is like.  The holiday is celebrated on December 24th.  
Families get together and eat a wide array of traditional foods, along with julmust, a coke-like Christmas soda, shots of Swedish snaps, which can be similar to vodka but is often flavored with herbs.  We ate gravlax, pickled fish, pickled cabbage, hard-boiled eggs, janssons frestelse, which is a casserole of potatoes and anchovies; ham, meatballs, sausage, spareribs, and potatoes.  There are also many Christmas songs that I’ve heard and sang in Swedish class, but we didn’t sing any. 
giving the julbock a kiss!

There was a Christmas tree, just like at home but with red colored ribbon, straw, and other natural material decorations and lights. However, there are some interesting Christmas decorations that we don’t have at home.  They have goat figurines (julbock) fashioned from straw and fastened with red ribbon.  I read that this goat is supposed to be a representation of the devil. In the window of each home hangs an illuminated paper star or an electric candelabra sitting on the window ledge.  It’s so beautiful to see how the city is lit up, and it really brightens the cold, long nights we have at this time of year.  By the way, down here in southern Sweden, we have about 7 hours of daylight in the winter.  The sun usually sets around 3pm. In northern Sweden, above the Arctic Circle, there’s complete darkness!  It all changes in the spring, when the north never sees night and in southern Sweden sunset is at 10pm!

In my next post, I'll show you what the city has been like through the winter. Yes, I survived the Swedish winter. I even went above the Arctic Circle, and had an unforgettable, wonderful experience in Norrland, Sweden's far north.

All that and more to come.