Every year, just after the Spring Equinox, the Swedes celebrate spring by eating waffles.
The sun was up early – casting a cozy golden glow on the day.
In the woods, I looked for signs of spring:
Glowing green cups of sunshine;
Melted ice puddles
Creating artistic reflections;
And the golden thread of a cobweb
Slung across a 1,000-year-old Viking rune stone.
The most delicious delicious sign of spring was found at home:
Golden heart-shaped waffles topped with fresh fruit.
The Swedes have been eating waffles to celebrate spring since the 1600s –
So it would be rude not to join in.
Do you suppose we could call them eggy-maniacs?
For more waffle, please visit: Our World.
So it’s that time of year again: the day to feast before fasting starts. Also known as Fat Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday.
(In honour of the Swedish tendency to mix up the two days, I’m writing about Tuesday on a Thursday. It makes sense, right?)
To celebrate the beginning of Lent, the Swedes eat a Lenten bun called a semla – from the Latin word semilia, which means flour. (Hey – I knew that studying Latin would come in handy one day! Yes, I was the poor klutz who had double Latin every Friday at school.)
Just look at those buns – delicious! (Well, except for the cream, which I don’t like. But apart from that….)
In the olden days, people ate plain wheat buns soaked in milk (called hetvägg – which means …er.. hot wall – don’t ask me why!)
Then about two hundred years ago, the modern day bun took shape: the bun is spiced with cardamon, and the top is cut off. Hollow out the inside of the bun, fill with almond paste, top with whipped cream and put the lid back on. Dust with powdered sugar.
On 13 December, Swedes get up at the crack of dawn to celebrate the festival of Santa Lucia: schools, shopping centres, the streets — all are full of young girls with fire in their hair, who go round singing beautiful Lucia songs together with an entourage of handmaidens and Santa’s helpers.
The girl who is Lucia has real burning candles in her hair as she leads a procession of young women (and even boys these days, of course) bearing candles. They sing Lucia songs in Swedish – but they originate from the Neapolitan song of Sankta Lucia, which the Scandinavian tradition is based on.
There are several different legends about Lucia. Everyone agrees that she was a young girl living in Sicily in about 300 AD. Some say that she hid persecuted Christians and was burned at the stake for helping them. However, the fire refused to burn her and she ended up having her throat slit. Yes – these legends are a bit gory!
Other stories say that she fell in love with a young man who spurned her. So, in a foolish act of unrequited love, she is said to have cut out her own eyes and sent them to the man she loved. A rather strange way of declaring undying love! But as they say, love is blind…
A more likely story is that in the Julian calendar, December 13th was the longest night of the year and people in the olden days believed that evil spirits were abroad then, so they burned lots of fires to keep the spirits at bay.
Whatever the origins, this Italian saint is now the Scandinavian symbolic figure: the bringer of light. It’s all about bringing light to the darkness of winter, of bringing warmth into the cold.
And, of course, it’s all about food and drink! This is the time when Swedes go mad in the kitchen and bake up storms of gingerbread and Lucia buns – more commonly called, Lucia cats (lussekatter in Swedish). These are saffron-flavoured sweet buns shaped like curled up cats with raisins for eyes. You eat these morning, noon and night – washed down with coffee or glögg. Glögg is like mulled wine spiced with cinammon sticks and cloves. You put raisins and almonds in a small cup and then fill up with glögg – and drink. You then use dainty little teaspoons to eat up the wine-soaked raisins and almonds…
And, now – if you’ll excuse me. I can hear a Lucia cat meowing to me from the kitchen!
For more glimpses into other parts of the world, please visit: My World!
What has this….
Got to do with this?
Although you might think that this janitor was auditioning for a part in a new re-vamped musical called Janitor on the Roof or that he was trying to burn the excess calories caused by consuming too many of that most Swedish of buns – the Cinnamon Swirl – both guesses are wrong!
If you guessed that he was inventing a new dance called The Cinnamon Twirl, then you are getting hotter…
You see, back in May, the school decided to try to get into the Guinness Book of Records by ‘making’ the largest cinnamon bun in Sweden…
… Out of children!
Music blaring, people dancing and the kids doing their best to make a new record!
First of all, they joined hands to make the bun part.
And then, they kicked up a lot of dust…
And finally fell into formation to create the swirl bit of the bun!
Did they make a new record?
I don’t know. Everyone I interviewed had their mouths too full of cinnamon bun to answer!
For more glimpses into the lives of others around the world, visit That’s My World!
Last week, I met a friend of mine in the woods as I was walking the dog. He and his family adopted a rescue dog from Ireland a while back: an English staffie (Staffordshire bull terrier) with the sunny disposition of a dog without a care in the world, and the energy of a circus troupe of toddlers on a sugar high!
I knew they were in the woods when I was knocked over by a compact barrel with legs, a veritable cinnamon bun with the sheer power of a tank!
My friend, N, told me this funny story about how the Staffie had embarrassed him over Christmas. He had to nip up to the shops for some emergency food and decided to take Staffie with him for the exercise.
When he got to the supermarket, he started tying her up as usual on those doggie loops they have outside the shop. Suddenly, without any warning, she jerked the lead off the loop and made a mad dash for the shop, winding N in the process.
He sped after her, only to find her with her front paws inside the first set of automatic doors and her bum firmly outside. (It should be mentioned that there is a kind of airlock system in the shop. The first doors let you come into the lobby where you can pick up the shopping trolleys and baskets. The second set of doors open up to allow you entrance to the shop itself.)
“Gotcha!” he cackled and made a flying leap at her. Just then a large lady laden down with goodies activated the second set of doors – the ones that allow hungry dogs access to paradise!
The dog dashed triumphantly through these doors, violating every known (and unknown) Swedish health regulation (and probably all the EU ones, too!), careering past the fruit and veg as fast as her little legs could carry her and right to the back of the shop. Where she stopped. And stared. And drooled and drooled in front of the delicatessen counter.
Red-faced, N finally caught up with her, grabbed the lead and started pulling her away. Just like the sword in the stone, she refused to budge. By now, both N and Staffie had bulging eyes and pools of saliva were congealing on the floor. In the end, he had to pick her up and walk back to the doors through the whole length of the shop. The whole shop stared and tutt-tutted.
He tied her up and went back inside to buy the single item on his list.
As he waited in the queue, he could hear a weird howling sound every time the doors opened.
Silence when they shut. Then WHOOOO! HOOO! again. Poor kid bawling its eyes out, he thought. Only to have it dawn on him that it was Staffie, making a noise that she has never made before or since.
His red face turned purple, then puce. He could hear people thinking, “That’s why people like him shouldn’t have dogs like that!”
And that, dear readers, is what the smell of Christmas can do to a dog!