Easter in Norway means many things: time with family, a meal of lamb and potatoes, and a trip to a mountain cabin for some of late-season cross-country skiing accompanied by a Norwegian favorite, Kvikk Lunsj, a chocolate-covered wafer that’s become a traditional snack during hiking and skiing excursions. But the most surprising Norwegian Easter tradition […]
Category: Culture & Heritage
In Sweden, Easter is a Time for Witches
In the Christian calendar, the Thursday before Easter is a holy day that kicks off the celebration of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, which culminates on Easter Sunday. In Sweden, it’s also a day when witches come out. Known in English as Maundy Thursday, the day is called Skärtorsdagen in Swedish — a name […]
The Ramsund Carving: A Legendary Tale Inscribed in Stone
Carved into a rock face in the woods south of Lake Mälaren is one of the most impressive runic inscriptions in all of Scandinavia: Sigurdsristningen — literally the Sigurd Carving, but more commonly known in English as the Ramsund Carving. The carving dates from the 11th century A.D. and tells the story of Sigurd Fafnesbane […]
Celebrating the Cinnamon Bun, Sweden’s Favorite Baked Treat
If there’s one baked item that is quintessentially Swedish, it’s the cinnamon bun – or kanelbulle, as it’s known in Sweden. Cinnamon buns even have their own holiday, Kanelbullens dag (Cinnamon Bun Day), which has been celebrated annually on October 4 since 1999.
Sweden’s National Day: Flags, History, Strawberries, and Song
Sweden celebrates its National Day on June 6, a date that is associated with significant events in the nation’s history.
The Dala Horse Factories of Nusnäs: Where Sweden’s Most Famous Handicraft is Made
Few symbols of Sweden are more famous than the painted wooden Dala horses from the province of Dalarna, in the Swedish heartland. People have been carving wooden horses as toys and decorative items for hundreds of years, but it was in the early 1800s that the Dala horse began to take its classic shape, with bright colors and painted flowers. The production of Dala horses was localized to four villages outside Mora, especially the small community of Nusnäs, where they are still produced today.
What to Read Before You Go: Scandinavian Crime
There must be something in the water in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark that helps authors write good mysteries, because Scandinavian crime writing has taken the world by storm. If you’re dreaming about an upcoming trip to Scandinavia—or reliving memories of a past visit—check out these authors. Stieg Larsson: Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the […]
Bringing Light in the Winter Darkness: Celebrating St. Lucia Day in Sweden
On December 13, one of the most famous of all Swedish celebrations takes place: St. Lucia Day, a festival of light in the long, dark Scandinavian winter. Traditionally the oldest girl in a family rises early on St. Lucia Day. Dressed in a white gown with a red sash around her waist and a wreath of […]
A Night of Bonfires and Song: Celebrating Valborgmässoafton (Walpurgis Eve) in Sweden
In the Swedish calendar, the last day of April is known as Valborgmässoafton (Valborg for short), or Walpurgis Eve. Throughout the country people gather around bonfires to celebrate spring and herald the coming of summer.
Some Valborg celebrations begin in the afternoon with picnics and other gatherings, but things really get going as the sun starts to go down. That’s when the crowds gather, the bonfires are lit, and fireworks are set off. Swedes love to sing, and a big part of Valborg celebrations is the singing of traditional songs of spring around the fire.
Midsummer in Sweden: Origins and Traditions
Given Scandinavia’s long, dark winters, it’s not surprising that the arrival of summer is a big deal throughout the Nordic countries. In Sweden, Midsummer’s Eve is one of the most important days of the year, rivaling Christmas with its festive spirit and traditions.
Syttende Mai: The Most Norwegian Day of the Year
Syttende Mai (May 17) is Norway’s national holiday, the day the Norwegian Constitution was signed at Eidsvoll in 1814, declaring Norway to be an independent nation after more than 400 years under Danish rule. However, a brief war between Norway and Sweden in the following months led to a loose union between the two countries, with Sweden the dominant partner. Full Norwegian independence did not come until the dissolution of the union in 1905, but it is still May 17 that is celebrated as the country’s official national day.
Constitutional Monarchs: The Royal Families of Scandinavia
The Scandinavian countries are all constitutional monarchies with a king or queen whose role as head of state is mostly symbolic. In addition to serving in ceremonial capacities at home, the monarch – along with other members of the royal family – represents the country internationally, while actual political decisionmaking is in the hands of an elected legislature (which in all three Scandinavian countries is unicameral) and a government headed by a prime minister.
The Cheese of the Vikings: A Long Tradition Lives on at a Single Dairy in Norway
In a small town on the Sognefjord, expert cheesemakers are continuing a tradition that’s believed to date back more than a thousand years. The village of Vik, population 3,100, is home to the world’s only dairy producing Gamalost – literally “old cheese.”
Gränna: Sweden’s Candyland
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then the small town of Gränna, Sweden, may be your idea of heaven. Tucked away on the eastern shore of Vättern, the country’s second-largest lake, Gränna (population approximately 2,600) is known primarily for one thing: the polkagris, a striped candy cane (or peppermint stick) that has been made here for more than 150 years.