How are you all doing with your Christmas shopping? Almost done, or barely started? I am usually almost done by this time of year. To be honest, I’m mostly done this year too, but it’s all due to effort in the last week or two. Normally I start way earlier than that (say, March or April), and am basically done by now. It’s been a weird year…
Tonight I took the time to wrap some of the presents I’d bought. I usually get a bit stressed wrapping everything just before Christmas so I thought I’d get an early start this year. The two matching gifts are store-wrapped. I do love getting that done when I can! It feels luxorious somehow. Plus, I’m not awfully good at wrapping so it lets me get some nice gifts in my pile, too. I just need a couple of more things, and I’m all done… What about you?
Over on my main blog, today I boost awesome writer and editor A.C. Buchanan. Check it out!
Today I want to wish everyone a happy St. Lucia’s Day (or St. Lucy’s Day, as I think she’s more commonly called in the anglosphere). St. Lucia’s Day is a pretty integral part of the holiday season up here in the North, as a celebration of how the light will soon be returning after the solstice. I’ve heard that the 13th used to be considered the solstice and that was why we celebrated on that day, but I’ve also heard that that’s a myth so I’m not sure. Either way, it’s one of my favorite parts of Christmas.
Swedish television always shows a Lucia special, which is mainly music (there’s a whole reportoire of Lucia-specific Christmas songs here), in the mornings of St. Lucia’s Day. This morning, I couldn’t find the remote to the TV, so we had to watch it on the laptop, hah! But it was nice all the same. Not one of the best ones (most years they record a new one, though some years they will air an old one instead) but not bad.
Today is a nice, calm day here in the house. I’m not working, so I’m spending the day tidying up a bit and doing some writing. Hope you all are having an equally pleasant day!
A particular Christmas favorite here in Sweden is the lussebulle (lusse bun), also called lussekatt (lusse cat). It’s a sweet saffron bun, usually with a couple of raisins in it and shaped as a braid or a sort of S (like in the photo below).
My mom baked these earlier, and gave us some so we can have some tomorrow on Saint Lucia’s day, which is the day traditionally associated with lussebullar. A lot of people, including me until a year or two ago, think that the lusse in lussebulle is a pet form of Lucia, but it is more likely that it is derived from earlier folklore figures that predates the association between December 13th (previously possibly believed to be the solstice) and the Italian Saint Lucia. One of these figures, and a likely contender for the origin, is Lussi who was believed to be a witch or demon who rode through the air with her cohorts on Lussi night. I don’t know that much about this myth to be honest, other than that it’s very interesting, but you can read a little about it here.
Advent Calendar Day 10 and 11 – Christmas Markets and Brända Mandlar
Another double post today. I had a lovely day yesterday, but long enough that I couldn’t write straight in the evening and opted to go to bed without blogging.
One of the reasons I had such a long day yesterday was that I helped my mom with selling Fair Trade stuff at a Christmas market nearby. Even though the weather wasn’t optimal yesterday (slushy snowfall all day and no real sun), I still always enjoy a Christmas market. The atmosphere, the generally good mood of the market-goers, the classic food and crafts being sold… It’s just cozy, I think. I only bought a few Christmas classics: game sausages (moose, reindeer and boar), some toffee (okay, not a Christmas classic, but a classic all the same) and our Language Pantry word for today: bärnda mandlar.
No banner today because I couldn’t take (or find a copy-right free) photo that suited the format I usually use. Anyway… there are two kinds of Bärnda Mandlar (burnt almonds) that are common in Sweden. One kind is basically blanched almonds fried in sugar. Those are best consumed hot, and although I personally don’t associate those with Christmas a lot of people do. The second kind, seen above, are covered in (usually pink) marzipan and to me they are a Christmas must! The show cannot go on without them. They’re probably my favorite Christmas candy.
Advent Calendar Day 8 and 9 – Christmas Parties and Snapsvisor
Hi guys! Last night I decided to forgoe my blogging on the basis that I came home past midnight and had had quite a bit of wine. We had our office Christmas party, which was why. Or well, more of a Christmas dinner because apart from drinking, we don’t really do much partying during them. It’s very common here for workplaces to have a Christmas dinner or party in the weeks before Christmas. I have to admit I quite like getting to have Christmas food twice, though unfortunately the place we went to this year didn’t have the best food.
That brings us to today’s Word Pantry word:
A snapsvisa is a short, often funny song that is sung when you drink snaps, Swedish hard liquor drunken in small glasses. In my mind, there are two kinds of snapsvisor (plural of snapsvisa). What I consider to be “regular” snapsvisor are usually humorous and often seasonal, but can still be pretty well-written lyrics. There are also snapsvisor which are parody versions of well-known melodies, with lyrics usually centered on heavy drinking and possibly the tragic consequences of this. I prefer the first variety, myself. I think the other kind are just… well, not that funny to be honest. I do love snaps though!
Lol, I almost titled this post Christmas Chicken for some dang reason. Focus, Emma! Anyway, I finally got my kitchen Christmas-ready. Nothing special but I like it:
It’s hard to see on the photo but the curtain has cross-stitch hearts on it. I’m glad I finally got them up, because the room looks so naked without curtains and I’m having guests over this weekend. Which also means I’m baking gingerbread cookies soon! And I’m sharing the recipe with you guys in a couple of days!
That’s right, we have Christmas mooses here in Sweden. Bet ya didn’t know that! See:
Jokes aside, these are probably my favorite reoccuring Christmas deco downtown. They’re usually standing around the fountain in Hötorget but there’s some construction going on there now so they are outside Kulturhuset instead. A male, a female and a baby you can’t see because the photo is bad. They’re so pretty though! So big and sparkly, like fairy mooses.
Glögg is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. Few things say “cosy and Christmassy” to me like the scent of glögg. So what is glögg?
Glögg is spiced, heated red wine (or sometimes other beverages), which is usually consumed during the Christmas season. Since it’s wine-based, it has a relatively high alcohol content, but it’s usually served in small cups, about the size of espresso cups. Often, almonds and raisins are submerged in it and eaten during or after sipping the glögg. It is delicious.
I was going to show you a picture of the cup of glögg I had tonight, but it’s dark and it’s red wine so it just looked like dark stuff in a badly lit cup… so I found a royalty-free one on the internet instead!
The spices in traditional glögg are what I think of as Christmas spices: cinnamon, ginger, cloves and things like that. Some breweries will release a “flavor of the year” glögg, which can be flavored with just about anything… chocolate, blueberries and tangarines come to mind as examples from past years. To be honest, I usually don’t find these as tasty as the traditional kind, but it’s still fun to try.
Today is the second Sunday of advent. The advent candle holder below is a Swedish classic. You light one candle on the first Sunday, two on the second etc. I hope you all are having a wonderful, calm day.
I’m a bit tired today, so I’m keeping today’s post brief and just telling you about a Swedish tradition: every year, in a city called Gävle, they eract a big straw goat for Christmas called Gävlebocken (the Gävle goat). Most years, it is burnt down by some random person. Some years it isn’t, but that tends to be the exception to the rule. Although of course, if caught, the person doing the burning will likely be charged with vandalism by arson or something like that, but on the balance the burning seems to be as much of a tradition as the goat itself. No-one really seems to mind (if anything, when it is not burned done, one does get a bit surprised), although I am sure it is frustrating for the people who build the goat.
You can read more about the Gävle Goat on Wikipedia.