Tag Archives: christmas

Did you know about the Swedish Christmas animal?

Christmas has just passed, okay, but Christmas is not only one day, rather we may say it’s about a longer period which is nestled in the cold European winter (even though in other parts of the globe, the season is the opposite).

Anyway, let’s stay in Sweden and focus on the Swedish traditions. I had the chance to observe how Swedes approach Christmas: darkness is faded by the lights that cover all the street and the houses in the cities; candies, cakes and other kinds of food and things that can sweeten the lack of sunlight; of course, how not to mention Santa Lucia and other habits!

But… surfing on the web I stumbled upon a strange and big Christmas animal.

A goat. Yes, a goat. You know what a goat is, don’t you?

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Nope! Not this one. Scroll down.

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Photo: http://meros.org/en/wonder/view?id=475

It’s a Christmas goat! And you can find it in Sweden of course! And no, sorry to inform you that you won’t find this goat roaming in the woods or in the cold Swedish lands. No. If you really want to meet this magic goat, you should visit Gävle.

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Photo: http://np3fastigheter.se/var-hemmaplan/gavle/

It’s one of the most important cities in Sweden, and it’s situated in the Gävleborg County. I’ve to admit that I didn’t know this city before coming in this nordic country, but I’m glad to have found out where it is: it may be one of the destinations I’d really like to go to.

We were talking about the goat actually… I didn’t forget about that!

If the city of Gävle was a movie, the Goat – in Swedish Gävlebocken – would easily be recognised as the leading actor. Made of straw, the Goat comes from the Yule goat, a typical Scandinavian and Northern European symbol of Yule (an historical winter festival observed by Germanic people) and Christmas. The idea of putting a full-sized goat in the middle of the square has to be ascribed to Stig Gavlén in 1966. Since then, the Goat has been set up on the first day of Advent, every year.

Unfortunately, over the course of the years there have been cases when some vandals have tried, many times successfully, to burn the goat. Despite the efforts in order to prevent cases of fire, the Goat has been burned 36 times since the beginning of the tradition. Last November 2016, the Goat didn’t escape from another shameful attempt: an arsonist destroyed the symbol on its inauguration day, by using petrol.

I wonder why some people behave this way.

Anyway, tell me: have you heard about this typical Swedish tradition before? And, remember: you can always interact with the Goat here!

 


 

Featured image: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/04/gavle-goat-christmas-2013_n_4379179.html

 

Julmust try it! A typical Swedish Christmas drink

It’s a kind of magic drink. If you drink it, you immediately start speaking Swedish (that sounds good actually, if you want to learn it!). Do not hesitate when you’ll be offered Julmust – according to the principle which says that everybody should try at least once the local products, this drink doesn’t shun it of course: so, my modest piece of advice is to try it, and you won’t regret that!

Joking apart, Julmust won’t let you speak Swedish so easily, but no worries, there’s time to study and learn it properly. Rather, you may feel a different taste, which could make you think at something-cola mixed to a beerish drink, and you’ll think like: “Hmm, that’s pretty particular!”

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Photo: http://www.foodemperor.com/foodstuff/julmust-the-swedish-holiday-soft-drink

Julmust (Jul means Christmas) is must-try soft drink in Christmas time in Sweden. And you’ll learn that Christmas time here begins around mid-November… so you cannot miss it! If for some reasons you can’t drink it in the winter festivity, no problem: you have another chance. At Easter you find it named as påskmust (Påsk means Easter): basically the must is the same, it only changes the label. It’s quite difficult to find (jul)must in the rest of the year.

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Photo: http://www.ateriet.com/what-is-julmust/#!prettyPhoto

What is that makes Julmust so special anyway? First and foremost, its recipe is secret: unless you find a way to go back to 1910 and meet somehow the inventors of this soft drink – Harry Roberts and his father Robert Roberts – trying to peek at their hidden place or simply trying to steal the recipe, I guess you won’t ever be able to know the ‘magic’ behind it.

However… why do you have to know that? After all that’s part of the mystery. The Roberts (the company Roberts AB was founded in Örebro) wanted to find another option to the common one that is beer. A non-alcoholic option, possibly. Therefore, they came up with the idea of producing a new carbonated soft drink. The only thing we know is that the must is made of some ingredients such as sugar, hops extract, malt extract, carbonated water, spices, preservatives and citric acid.

You’ll taste it slightly bitter, but in the same time with sweet nuances.

Angelina, one of our previous bloggers, wrote: julmust “outsells Coca-Cola during the Christmas period; in fact Coca-Cola’s sales may drop as much as fifty percent as julmust is generally considered the essential and, sometimes only acceptable, non-alcoholic holiday drink and is an undeniable ‘must’ for the Christmas advent fika”. (If you want to know more about the Swedish Christmas Essentials, just click here).

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Photo: http://chili19.deviantart.com/art/julmust-vs-coke-71497406

So… ready for drinking it? Skål!


Featured image: https://www.mydalarna.com/swedish-food/

Tjolöholm Castle

Christmas at Tjöloholm Castle

It’s officially 30 days to Christmas! I’m starting to learn that no one does Early Christmas like the Swedes do. Shop windows are laden with Christmas wreaths and mistletoe and lights are strung on trees across the city. It’s easy to be carried away with the spirit of Christmas.

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Clarion Hotel in Gothenburg during the Christmas opening

In this festive mood, the Welcome Services at the University of Gothenburg decided to take an eager group of international students on a day trip to Tjolöholm Castle also knows as Tjöloholms Slott in Swedish to experience a little Swedish Christmas magic.

Tjolöholm Castle

The Castle is open to the public for tours during the summer and over all weekends throughout the year. It has gardens that face the Sea which make for a breathtaking view.

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The view from the Castle looking out to the Sea

Interesting Fact: The castle was built for James Fredrik Dickson and his wife Blanche in 1904, but sadly James never lived to see its completion as he died from blood poisoning shortly after construction began.

The tour takes you to various parts of the castle and my favorite part of the tour was seeing the instant hairdryer that was used by Blanche, Frederik’s wife and the shower that sprayed water from all directions. I noted that Blanche had a flair for the most interesting contraptions even if it was the 1900’s. She must have been one cool lady.

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Blanche’s instant hair dryer

Christmas fever

After all that walking a hot cup of cocoa and some churros covered in chocolate were in order. The atmosphere was enchanting with all the Christmas trees and lights strung on the trees and all over the castle, however if you’re not such a fan of the cold, I suggest visiting during the summer.

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My first Churros

However, despite the weather, I loved the authentic feeling with horse carriage rides for the kids and the Christmas markets filled with all sorts of wares from animal hides, handmade chocolate, home brewed Julmust to baubles and tinsel.

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Keep warm and keep checking in to learn about all the fun Christmas and Lucia festivities in the weeks to come!

Christmas fever

From Sweden with Love!

Swedish Christmas Essentials

It’s December and Christmas is dawning. Here are the essential flavours that without doubt will put you in the right Swedish holiday mood. Christmas in Sweden means the display of lots of lights, presumably in part to counter the ever-longer darkness. These flavours clearly evokes a certain sense of the overwhelming Christmas spirit.

GlšggImage of Glögg: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se

Glögg

Glögg is a spiced mulled red wine served hot, also comes with non-alcoholic alternatives. It should be served piping hot to stand the freezing winter nights and preferably together with raisins and almonds left soaking in the mug and thoroughly savoured. There’s something very comforting about glögg when you’re hit by ever more chilling winds, as winter makes itself increasingly known, and all in all brings you closer and closer to a warm and cosy Christmas.

Pepparkakor

Pepparkakor are thin and crispy ginger biscuits with lots of flavour. Cloves, cinnamon and cardamom are the most important and distinct ingredients, with the actual ginger of the ginger biscuit not being particularly prominent at all. Try them together with a bit of blue cheese on top; it will end up proven virtually irresistible, and becomes particularly good when accompanied with a cup of glögg.

Julmust

Julmust (“jul” meaning Christmas and “must” referring to the not yet fermented juice of fruits or berries) is a soft drink with a taste of hops, malt, and various undisclosed spices. It outsells Coca-Cola during the Christmas period; in fact Coca-Cola’s sales may drop as much as fifty percent as julmust is generally considered the essential and, sometimes only acceptable, non-alcoholic holiday drink and is an undeniable ‘must’ for the Christmas advent fika.

Meet Tomte, the Swedish Santa

Tomte or Nisse is the Swedish version of Santa and can be found everywhere in Sweden. Tomte is a mythological creature that is generally no taller than three feet, having a long white beard, and wearing a conical or knit cap in red. Below are Tomte from Nordiska Kompaniet window display in Gothenburg. As you can see, the tomote are busy with baking pepparkakor.

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Have a great festive season everyone! Cheers and skål!

UMEÅ 2014 in 35 Seconds

Så, the student ambassadors @ StudyInSweden.se went away for a work-trip up north – Umeå, the European Capital of Culture 2014.

The city has about 90,000 inhabitants… it’s not as small as I mentally pictured, but it is VERY cozy.

We löv’d it!!!

The Umeå Institute of Design greeted us and we are über impressed!

APPLY NOW! http://www.dh.umu.se/en/

No, seriously, apply 5 mins ago!

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Christmas market – hungry for some fresh baked cookies? Ja!

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Yep, there is sunshine up north.

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Yep, put on your sunblock.

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City centre

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Rost, a great place to meet for lunch.

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First time I ate vegetables in weeks.

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It’s never too cold to bike. Seriously!

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Lose a mitt? Random act of kindness!

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Sunbathing by the river

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Fancy going for a swim?

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Yep, it was Saturday.