• A healthy walk in a palace environment

    My grandmother’s health advice was; eat well, sleep well, and go out and exercise! Grandma was very wise and there is a lot in her advice. If you add to her wisdom the very Swedish expression that “lagom är bäst” (everything in moderation), you avoid extreme training, extreme eating and sleeping away all your life! Outdoor walks can be just the right amount of exercise, but where should you go when you are tired of the nearest neighborhood and boring trees in the forest?  Just west of Stockholm, in Drottningholm, the King and Queen of Sweden live in a beautiful 17th century palace. Large parts of the palace park are…

  • Santa Claus is coming to town!

    The tradition of sending Christmas cards started in Britain in the 1840s.  The practice of sending Christmas greetings on colored postcards soon spread both to the United States and via Germany and Denmark to Sweden. In Sweden, it became popular to send Christmas cards at the end of the 19th century and the tradition is still very popular. With her very popular Christmas card motifs, the artist Jenny Nyström gave us the image of the Swedish Santa Claus, Christmas presents and a Christmas tree (jultomten, julklappar och julgranen). My sons and I have a tradition of creating our own Christmas card, perhaps a little less traditional or at least with a…

  • Preparations for Jul

    Christmas is called “Jul” in the Nordic languages, or “Jól” in Icelandic. The word comes from the ancient Germanic word “jehwla” which is also linked to the Finnish “joulu”. Jul was celebrated as a holiday in Old Norse religion and the Germanic world long before Christianity. In the Nordic countries, the Christian Christmas was named after the pre-Christian holiday.  In Sweden, the holiday “Lucia” together with Advent marks the beginning of the Christmas celebration. Lucia is celebrated on December 13. Lucia is a saint in the Christian tradition originating in Sicily. The Swedish Lucia is a mixture of both pre-Christian and Christian figures and this tradition has spread to other…

  • This year’s crayfish party

    The first time crayfish is mentioned in Swedish gastronomy is in a letter from king Erik XIV dated 1562. King Erik grew crayfish in the water-filled moats around Kalmar Castle. Crayfish were not eaten whole and cold as they are today. Kajsa Warg’s cookbook from the 18th century contains old recipes on how to make crayfish cake, crayfish sausages and stewed pans with crayfish tails. The crayfish party (Kräftskivan), as we know it today, was formed during the first decades of the 20th century. Since then, it has increased in popularity, and today it is one of the holidays associated with Swedish identity and Swedishness. Previously, crayfish fishing was only…

  • A romantic castle

    There is so much to experience not too far from home. Yesterday we made a car trip to the town Mariefred some 60 kilometres west of Stockholm. Mariefred means “Peace of Mary” and the city got its name from a former monastery “Pax Mariae” which was the only catholic Carthusian monastery in the Nordic countries, and one of the last established monasteries in Sweden before the Reformation. The monastery was built on the hill where Mariefred’s church is now located, opposite Gripsholm’s castle. The monastery church was inaugurated in 1504. Above ground, there are no remains from the monastery today. The king Gustav Vasa, who led the Protestant Reformation in…

  • In Our Pasture

    Contrary to what some domestic and foreign politicians believe, we in Sweden have taken strong measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the population. The future, when the pandemic is over, will tell us which actions around the world were the most effective. This year’s National Day celebration was different. Among other things, a distance choir was formed with more than 700 participants to welcome the summer and together sing “Uti vår hage”. “Uti vår hage” (“In our pasture or meadow”) is a traditional Swedish folk song first published around the 1880s, though it is considered to have origins as far back as the 1600s. The song…

  • Midsummer mystique!

    Last Friday, in Sweden we celebrated Midsummer Eve. It is an important feast that some people think would be Sweden’s national day. It is celebrated on the night before Midsummer Day which used to be on June 24. Since 1953 it falls on a Saturday between June 20 and June 26. It is perhaps a problem that the day varies if it were our national day. Also in Finland Midsummer is thoroughly celebrated, and the day varies. Some say the feast has pre-Christian origin but the evidence is lacking. In the 300s, the undivided Christian Church designated June 24 as the feast day of St John the Baptist. The Christians…

  • Sometimes you get disappointed!

    It was probably not what he expected Carl Gustaf Wrangel when he had Skokloster built 342 years ago, that a Christmas market would be held there in the future. But now it was the case, the first Sunday in Advent, a small cozy Christmas market with most crafts and delicacies. I bought delicious cheeses made from cow’s milk, goat’s milk and with mold! The cafeteria in the old castle was also cozy and a ham sandwich with coffee was great! I definitely think I need to go back sometime to see more of the castle and the collections.