It’s Valborg on Monday!

Happy Valborg!

Valborg is the name of the 30th of April in Sweden. In Sweden, this is celebrated by lighting bonfires (majbrasor) all around the country in the evening, and people gather to watch the bonfires. Some places have fireworks (fyrverkerier). Once the bonfire is lit, it is traditional for a men’s choir (manskör) to sing traditional songs about the spring, and for someone to hold a speech.

Valborg

Valborg, Stockholm (Hammarby skidbacke) 2012

Valborg got its name from an Anglo-Saxon missionary, who lived during the 700th century BC. According to legend, she was an English princess who were called to Germany to help evangelise the pagan Germans. She was made a saint year 870, and during medieval times, a cult developed in her memory. This cult believed in protecting themselves from witchcraft, and in order to protect themselves from witches, people started to light bonfires in Germany.

In Sweden, people thought that the night between 30th of April and 1st of May was a magical night, when witches and other magical beings appeared to meet the Devil. Therefore, they lit bonfires and made noises to try and scare the beings away.

It also happens to be the birthday of the Swedish King – Carl XVI Gustaf! Grattis kungen!

Carl XVI Gustaf

Grattis på födelsedagen!

Valborg is one of the main days of festivities at universities and colleges, as this is the time when the students put on their traditional student caps (which marks the end of the final exam periods and the beginning of celebrations). In university cities, especially Uppsala and Lund, the whole day is packed with activities and celebrations and begin already in the morning with champagne breakfast in nearby parks.

studentmössa på Valborg

Pic from http://www.lexiophiles.com/svenska/studentmossor-och-skumpa

The most traditional song is “Vintern rasat” (it’s actually called “Längtan till landet” but it most known by its first two words: Vintern rasat). Herman Sätherberg (1812-1897) wrote the lyrics and the music was written by Otto Lindblad (1809-1864).

Vintern rasat

Swedish and English lyrics (translation from semiswede) – and here you can listen to a performance of the song.

Vintern rasat ut bland våra fjällar,
Winter stormed out among our mountains,
drivans blommor smälta ned och dö.
snow drifts melt down and die.
Himlen ler i vårens ljusa kvällar,
The sky smiles in spring’s bright evenings
solen kysser liv i skog och sjö.
The sun kisses life into the forest and lake.

Snart är sommarn här i purpurvågor,
Soon summer is here in purple waves,
guldbelagda, azurskiftande
gold-coated, azure-shifting
ligga ängarne i dagens lågor,
lie meadows in daylit flames (strong sunlight on a spring day),
och i lunden dansa källorne.
and in the grove dance källorne (the light streams and dances). 

Ja, jag kommer! Hälsen, glada vindar,
Yes, I’m coming! Greetings, cheerful winds,
ut till landet, ut till fåglarne,
out to the country, out to the birds,
att jag älskar dem, till björk och lindar,
that I love, to birch and linden trees,
sjö och berg, jag vill dem återse,
lake and mountain, I want them see again,

se dem än som i min barndoms stunder
see them like in my childhood memories
följa bäckens dans till klarnad sjö,
follow the dancing creek to the clear lake,
trastens sång i furuskogens lunder,
the thrush’s song in the pine forest groves,
vattenfågelns lek kring fjärd och ö.
waterfowl play around the bay and island.

Glad Valborg! / Anneli

Lessons, prices and online booking system here.

Semlor – baka dina egna (how to bake your own semlor)

Image

Have you tried semlor? It’s that time of year again! Tomorrow Tuesday is the day of the Semla. Semlor (plural, semla in singular) are cardamom-scented-cream-and-almond-paste-filled-buns commonly available from the official end of the Christmas season (tjugondag Knut on January 13th) until Easter although originally they were only eaten every Tuesday from Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) until Easter. Nowadays, well… let’s say we eat them a bit more often during this period of the year.

Here is my recipe for semlor

Ingredienser:

  • 75 gram smör
  • 2,5 dl mjölk
  • 25 gram jäst
  • 2 krm salt
  • 0,5 dl socker
  • 1 tsk stött kardemumma
  • 8 dl vetemjöl (ca 500 gram)
  • 1 ägg till pensling

Fyllning till semlorna:

  • 200 gram mandelmassa eller marsipan
  • 1 dl grädde eller mjölk att ha i mandelmassan
  • 3 dl vispgrädde att vispa
  • 0,5 dl florsocker att pudra semlorna med

Gör så här:

1. Mal kardemumman

2. Aktivera jästen (om du behöver – gör som det står på jästpaketet). Blanda ihop mjöl, socker, salt, och kardemumma. Tillsätt mjölk, jäst, och smält smör.

3. Blanda till en deg. Låt degen jäsa i 45 min, under en handduk.

4. Dela degen i 12 delar. Baka ut till små runda bullar. Lägg bullarna på bakplåtspapper. Låt bullarna jäsa i 30 min, under en handduk.

5. Sätt ugnen på 220 grader. Rör ihop ett ägg, och pensla ägg-mixen på bullarna. Grädda bullarna i ugnen i ca 8 minuter, tills de fått en gyllenbrun färg.

6. Under tiden, riv marsipanen. Tillsätt 1 dl mjölk eller grädde. Låt mixen stå ett tag.

7. Ta ut bullarna ur ugnen, låt dem svalna under en handduk.

8. Skär ut locket på bullarna, och skrapa ut smulorna inuti. Tillsätt smulorna i marsipan-mixen.

9. Lägg i marsipan-mixen i bullarna.

10. Vispa lite grädde, och lägg grädden på marsipan-mixen. Lägg sedan locket på, och pudra lite med florsocker. Tadaaa! Klart!

Or you could just buy some semla in any café in Sweden, or maybe at Scandinavian Kitchen in London if you are there?

Skansen

Have you ever been to Skansen in Stockholm? It is the first open air museum and zoo in Sweden and is located on the island Djurgården in Stockholm. It was founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius to show the way of life in the different parts of Sweden before the industrial era. I went there last Wednesday, and here are some pictures.

 

 

 

Sunny Stockholm

I am in Stockholm right now, and the weather is glorious! I spent yesterday in the sun in a newly developed area in south Stockholm called Henriksdalskajen, a trendy and expensive place by the sea with board walks, cool cafés and swanky restaurants. 1 bedroom apartments starting price in the region of 3 million kronor. Here are some photos:

 

 

God fortsättning

Happy New Year – Gott Nytt År! And God Fortsättning, as we also say. I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas. I have spent some time away from my computer, planning for 2012.  Have you made any New Year’s resolutions – or Nyårslöften, as we say in Swedish? Perhaps to practice more Swedish? Now may be a good time to set some goals for the rest of the year in terms of your Swedish. Maybe some goals could be:

  • read a book in Swedish
  • listen to at least 1 hour of Swedish radio per week
  • buy a vocabulary book for new words
  • buy some flash cards and learn 10 new words every week
  • buy a ticket/order drinks and food/ask a random person about the time/ask for directions/strike up general conversation in a public place – next time you go to Sweden
  • watch 1 Swedish movie per month (watch twice – first with subtitles and then without)

I have also been thinking about my Nyårslöften. I won’t tell you all of them, but I can promise that there will be more podcasts and more media this year (maybe even Youtube clips!) to look forward to – so stay tuned!

Me thinking about the goals for 2012, for Swedish Made Easy

Me coming up with a great idea

Me writing down my great idea

Lucia concert at Swedish Church London

I went to a Lucia concert last night at Swedish Church London last night. It was so beautiful, brought tears to my eyes.

Went to the Swedish pub across the road, Harcourt Arms, before and after, for some Glögg. Also, the church hall served glögg and lussebullar after the service. Strongly recommending it for next year, for all Londoners (and Brits in general).

Snapshots from Stockholm

Children playing in the snow at a local nursery in Skarpnäck

Much of the snow had melted (!).

Swedish bakery serving semla

It was semla season…

Semla heaven!

I bought semla for some dear friends

Hammarby ski slope, about 200 m from my mum's apartment in Stockholm

Hammarby ski slope is a cool place I think, it is a small ski slope in central Stockholm. My mum’s apartment is just a stone’s throw from the slope.

Another favourite

Can’t beat a kanelbulle and coffee. We are pretty heavy coffee consumers, among the highest in the world apparently.

The Swedish newspaper landscape

Snapshot of the Swedish newspaper selections. To the left, the two main broadsheets (or morning papers) – Svenska Dagbladet and Dagens Nyheter. To the right, the two tabloids (or evening papers) – Expressen and Aftonbladet.