Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year

Time seems to fly when you enjoy your self or is busy, this year has come and gone and during the last part I really haven’t paid Testimony of the spade as much attention as I should – I intend to do better next year. But as go through statistics I’ve managed to posts some 80+ posts and it might be one or two more before the year ends.

I’ve also started at two new jobs during the year; as an archaeologist at Kalmar County Museum from April-September and currently as an archaeologist at the Västernorrland County Board.

A few words on how a Swedish Christmas celebration might be celebrated. As in many other places Christmas of today is quite a secular thing, far from celebrating the birth of Christ or the old Norse way of Julblot/Midvinterblot (the christmas or midwinter sacrifice rites). In spite of this a lot of the symbols are still here; angels, the nativity scene, Christmas stars, songs etc. There are also things that might go as far back as Julblotet. In a ode to the “Norwegian” king Harald Hårfager (Ca 850 -933 AD) dated to ca 900 AD the rite of drinking Christmas (dricka jul) is mentioned, this has been interpreted as drinking Christmas ale/beer/mead – a tradition very much still living.

Back to the present and recently past, Christmas starts with advent, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the Christmas celebration. For most from my generation this is connected with TVs Adventskalendern, a 24 piece TV-series for children. For the TV series is an advent calendar with 24 casements that are related to the program. I mid advent on December 13th we celebrate Lucia (Saint Lucy). In “traditional” celebrations, Saint Lucy comes as a young woman wearing a crown with candles and a white robe, heading a procession by other girls and boys. Normally the girls following Lucia are called tärnor, they are dressed in a white robes holding a single candle each and the boys are dressed in the same kind of white robes, but with a cone-shaped hat decorated with golden stars, called stjärngossar (star boys); some may be also be dressed up as a young Santa Claus, carrying lanterns; and some may be dressed up as gingerbread men. They sing traditional songs such as the Neapolitan song Santa Lucia etc. This also is a party weekend for many.

In Sweden we celebrate at Christmas Eve, on the 24th, most often by feasting on traditional food, such as ham, herring, salmon, cold cuts and rice porridge etc. etc. We also drink Christmas beer, Christmas snaps (not to be confused with schnapps – this is liquor spiced with different herbs) and lets not forget mulled wine. When I was young, Swedish TV were two channels, at the time we didn’t get to enjoy much cartoons but on Christmas Eve Donald Duck and his friends were a tradition – for the young today it might not seem like much but we are still many who connect Christmas with an hour of Disney shorts. Another cartoon that has have a long run on Swedish TV on Christmas Eve is called Karl-Bertil Jonssons Jul (it was translated into English in 1987 with the titel Christophers Christmas mission) – a story by Tage Danielsson from 1964 made for TV in 1975 about a teenage boy, growing up just before WW2, in a rich family, dreaming of a better world and living by Robin Hood’s motto; to take from the rich and give to the poor. With these words in mind he brings the tax calendar with him to his holiday job, sorting Christmas mail, at the post office and pick out presents addressed to rich people and then dressed out as Santa he instead gives them to the poor – in the true Christmas spirit.

On Christmas day we don’t do much, we digest yesterday’s food and relax. That is to say until it becomes evening – a tradition of late in many cities is to go out and party on Christmas night. Thereafter it’s the big Christmas sales – shop, shop, shop – and then it’s time for New Years Eve.

In short this is Christmas in Sweden, at least for me, though along the way it seems that I’ve picked up a few habits

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and or Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year

Magnus Reuterdahl


About Magnus Reuterdahl

I am an archaeologist/Osteologist from Sweden. My main intrest lays in north Euorpean archaeology in, preferbly the prehistory of the late iron age and the neolithic periods. I've also got a strong intrest for Chinese archaeology, especially the neolithc Yangshao culture. I also write about cultural heritage and cultural history. Mitt namn är Magnus Reuterdahl, jag är arkeolog och osteolog och arbetar företrädesvis i Sverige även om jag gjort ett par vändor till Kina. På den här bloggen skriver jag om mitt yrke, om fornlämningar, kulturarv och kulturhistoria m m. View all posts by Magnus Reuterdahl

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