With the Semla day being celebrated tomorrow, I thought of taking you through the interesting traditions observed in Sweden every year. It is fascinating to be part of these festivals which gives a sneak-peek into Sweden’s rich tradition. There are festivals that bear religious significance and the ones that truly capture my attention are the culinary traditions that are celebrated with much vigour such as Kanelbullens dag (National Cinnamon day), Fettisdagen (Semla day) and so on.
January: On the 6th of January is the Trettondedag jul or Epiphany, which is the 16th day of Christmas, the Christmas tree is plundered for goodies. It is a national holiday and the Swedes tend to relax as the Christmas festive fades out. On the 13th of January which is the Tjugondedag jul or St.Knut’s day, the Christmas tree is taken down while the children’s dance around it.
February: Fettisdagen also known as Semla day is celebrated 47 days before Easter which is on the 16th of February this year. People treat themselves to semlor which is a bun filled with whipped cream and almond paste. This is my favourite tradition and last year I ate it throughout the month because this is the only time semlor are available.
March: 25th of March is again a culinary tradition celebrated as the Våffeldagen and the day is dedicated to eating waffles – heart sharped waffles layered with cloudberry jam and cream.
April: Easter is celebrated either in March or April to mark the end of winter. Families get together for an Easter buffer and homes are decorated with colourful twigs and feathers. 30th of April is celebrated as Valborgsmässoafton or the Walpurgis Night that marks the beginning of spring with bonfires and traditional Swedish songs.
June: Sweden’s national day is celebrated on the 5th of June to commemorate the election of Gustav Vasa as the king of Sweden that marked the birth of the Swedish state in 1523. The city would be filled with blue and white decorations.
Midsommor celebrations are the biggest festival in Sweden. Celebrated on the Friday between 20-26 of June, people dance around a maypole with a crown of flowers. Dancing and drinking take places throughout the day and night.
August: Crayfish parties are common at the end of August where people eat boiled crayfish and mark the end of the short Swedish summer.
October: Cinnamon bun is synonymous with Swedish Fika. Every fika I have been part of always has a plate full of cinnamon buns along with coffee. The love for cinnamon bun has led to an annual secular holiday in Sweden on the 4th of October celebrated as Kanelbullens dag (Cinnamon bun/roll day).
November: The end of October or beginning of November is Halloween. Influenced by western culture, Halloween is celebrated by dressing up in costumes and roaming the city. Kungstragraden organises a beautiful halloween carnival that goes around old town and other places. The follwing day is the “All Saints Day”where people visit the cementaries of their loved onces and light candles in memory of them.
December: Christmas is celebrated with the usual enthusiasm and the houses are decorated with Christmas lights and the Christmas tree is decorated too. Every family have their own traditions of celebrating the Christmas week.