Swedish midsummer is all about dancing around the maypole to live music.
This year, we arrived at the local farm a little too late —
We could hear music in the distance;
But when we arrived at the maypole —
Slender against the cloudy sky —
The musicians were already putting away
Their instruments for the day.
We stopped to admire each ring of the maypole
Bedecked in flowers (woven there by hand).
The day did not go as planned,
But it’s how you roll with life that counts.
For more midsummer stories, please visit: Our World.
The end of October and beginning of November is a time of reflection about the dead – and ultimately the meaning of life.
In many European countries, people visit the graves of their loved ones and light candles in remembrance of them.
Other parts of the world celebrate more exuberantly. Take my birthplace, Mexico, for example.
Last week, we visited the Museum of Ethnography – a museum whose mission is to help us broaden our perspective of the world.
There was an exhibition celebrating Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
This celebration is thousands of years old: originating from the Aztec times, it has adapted and mixed with Catholic traditions so that you can find altars in people’s homes, laden down with offerings, skeletons, photos of the dead and crosses.
One popular figure is La Calavera Catrina (the elegant skull), which depicts an upper class lady, and serves as a reminder that even though we might have pretensions of importance due to riches or class, death is the great equalizer.
The living make exotic skulls out of sugar and in some places in Mexico, they have joyous picnics at the gravesides of the departed.
I like the idea of remembering people who gave meaning to your life while feasting and laughing and remembering the good times with them. After all, this is probably the best way of helping their memory live on.
“Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” — Saroyan
For more traditions, please visit: My World.
It is cold and snowy. The bitter wind blows the snowflakes into my face as I plod homewards with the kids. Going from school to home along the slippery pavement requires effort and concentration.
Head downwards, I concentrate on my shoes – and my troubles. I will my feet to stay rooted to the pavement, pray for gravity to pull me pavementwards, to anchor me…
Suddenly, from behind me, sweet singing soars upwards, like balloons filled with musical air flying up, upwards to meet the snow and the stars.
It is the children, singing a song to welcome in the winter, to embrace the snow, to dance on the wind.
I look up and smile.
My feet are free from their tethers and I lose myself in that single snow-filled magical moment of song and joy.
It is only a moment, yet it is my whole world.
On 17 May of every year, an entire country takes a holiday to go out onto the streets and take part in parades, bands, marching and general celebration.
If you happen to be in Norway, then you cannot help but be affected by the music, the rosy-cheeked smiles, the traditional costumes, the joy…
Now, if you ask them what they are celebrating, they will tell you that they are celebrating their National Day. The day they became an independent nation.
Independent from Sweden, no less. That’s right, Norway used to be under Swedish rule once upon a time… (But, hey, let’s not mention that again. OK?)
And although the Norwegians will insist that they are celebrating syttende mai (17 May); celebrating their independence…
… they are not.
What they are really celebrating is my (and Sir Pe’s) wedding anniversary!
So, thank you Norway, for all the music, cheering and celebration… we appreciate it.
Let’s make a date to do it all over again next year!