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Annual Traditions In Sweden

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.

Semlors PC: Kavan Gor

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.

St Walburgis night bonfire, Sweden
Valborgsmässoafton PC: Rutger Blom

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.

Carolina Romare/

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).

The KTH International Student Blog – Page 21 – Follow the daily life of KTH  students

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.

Observing the All Saint’s Day at Skogskyrkogården. Picture credit: Rajat Alva

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.

Have you ever wondered …

It’s quiz time! We thought that it’s time to get you into a weekend puzzle mood. Ivan, our Instagram curator has prepared a quiz about KTH for you in our Instagram story – did you see it already? Before you go on reading, you should check it out and test your knowledge – just click here and go to our story hightlights! For everyone who already took the quiz – how did you do? Did you know all the answers about KTH? Here comes some background knowledge on the questions.

… when KTH was founded?

The KTH Royal Institute of Technology can look back on a long history as it was founded in 1827. Back then, the “Teknologiska Insitutet” was founded and offered education in technological subjects with a strong professional touch. In 1927, KTH received the final academic recognition. KTH has grown significantly over the years with different campuses all over Stockholm. The buildings on the main campus are already host to the university since 1917. Nowadays, it is Sweden’s largest technical research and learning institution. If you want to learn more about KTH’s history, check out this page.

… from whom the big lecture hall F1 gets its name?

F1, the big lecture hall on campus is also called Alfvénsalen after KTH’s Nobel Laureate Hannes Alfvén. The KTH professor was awarded one half of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1970 for “basic contributions and discoveries in magnetohydrodynamics with fruit-bearing applications in various parts of plasma physics”. Who never wanted to wander on the tracks of a Nobel Laureate? You can read more about Hannes Alfvén here.

… who has recorded a music video in the Reactorhall R1 on campus?

The building R1 on campus was the first nuclear reactor of Sweden. It was active between 1954 and 1970, but the building of the reactor still exists on campus and hosts different events today where you can get the exclusive chance to go underground and see the impressive hall. But as if having an old reactor hall on campus is not sensational enough, in 2016, the English-Norwegian DJ Alan Walker recorded the music video for his song “Faded” (Restrung) in R1. What an honourable guest!

… when the Student’s Union (THS) was founded?

The Student Union (THS) was founded in 1902 at KTH. It is one of Sweden’s oldest Student Unions and has been working for the students’ rights at KTH since the very beginning. Since 1930 the Student Union also has its own building on campus called Nymble. The main purpose of THS is to monitor and contribute to the development of the education and study conditions at KTH. You want to learn more? Check this out!

… in which building we have a memory plate for former president Barack Obama on the toilet?

Speaking of honourable guests: did you know that former president Barack Obama visited campus in 2013? It was an honourable visit for KTH and you can read more about the research president Obama examined here. However, curious is the memory plate that nowadays hangs in one of the toilets in the library stating that Obama has sat down in 2013. How they knew that he had sat down, we’ll probably never know – but you can check out the plate on the Instagram account of the library!

Did you have fun with the quiz? We hope you learned something interesting about KTH today! Let us know in the comments or on Instagram how many of the questions you got right!

Have a great weekend!
// Maria

Winter runs are so much fun

It was a Christmas miracle… well not really. But Stockholm received its first snowfall on the day of Christmas. So it’s up to you to decide if it was a miracle or not. And since then Stockholm has been painted in white snow and the skyline painted with orange rays of the early falling sun. The temperature during the days reaching -9°C. Sitting like a potato at home with classes and thesis makes one desperate to seek adventure. And that’s when I took out my running shoes hidden in the rack since the end of autumn and gave winter-running a try. And it’s been a month and like any other Swede, I have been regular at it.

The lake that once reflected the city lights is now a frozen bridge

Running has been an excellent means to explore the city and the neighbourhood. As you pass through the lake that once was reflecting the city lights, now frozen enough that you can walk and stand in the middle of it, is a fascination exemplified. The brown road in the deep forests is now covered in white like a beautiful bride. The wind blowing bundle of snowflake powders from the treetops, illuminated by the sun rays is a show that is enough to bring a small smile on your face. And who doesn’t need a reason to smile!

The wind blowing bundle of snowflake powders from the treetops, illuminated by the sun rays is a show in itself

And of course, running is a sport that helps me to gather my thoughts while my body finds its rhythm and the eyes enjoy the beauty of the city. It pushes me towards being goal-oriented and the cold temperatures add to the challenge. One has to be cautious with the selection of the right running apparels and gears. Like the Swede’s say –

“Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder”, which translates to “there is no bad weather, there are only bad clothes”

The happy bride – Stockholm

So put on your running snows and explore Stockholm like never before. In my next blog post, I would write about the running apparels that I use and are suitable for winter.

Winter weekend in Falun

It’s wintertime in Sweden! Last weekend I went on a trip to Falun, which lies about three hours by train up north from Stockholm. I have been planning to escape into the winter wonderland for a long time now. Since last winter, there wasn’t too much snow, especially not around Stockholm, I had to move my plans. But this year, we have been blessed with snow for some weeks now – so I took the chance and went up north.

Trying out cross-country skiing for the first time

When I was little, I went on some weekend ski trips with my family and I enjoyed the days in the cold nature very much. But for many many years, I didn’t find the time (or the snow :D) to go on another ski trip. I wanted to change this, as the Swedish winter offers the best possibilities for winter sports! In Falun, I tried out cross-country skiing for the first time. If you have your own skis or want to get into the skiing business frequently, you’re probably off best if you buy your own skis. Many people sell their skis online and they’re most of the time in a good condition! But if you just want to try it out, like I did, I recommend you to check out the renting possibilities of the place where you plan your ski trip to. I found a place to rent skis in Falun, and everything worked very smoothly. For the first day, I chose to go skiing in the Lugnet stadium in Falun where just one week earlier the cross-country ski world cup took place.

Choose your route wisely

As you can imagine, if the world cup took place in this stadium, the routes for skiing were quite hard. I had chosen the shortest round (3km), but it was still very hilly, and I had to pause or take off the skis multiple times. If you’re completely new to skiing and don’t want to take a course or similar, I would advise you to choose your route wisely and search for flat tracks. On the second day of skiing, I decided to take a longer walk to a lake where the tracks were shorter (2km) but also not as hilly as in the stadium. This was way more fun, and I enjoyed the time on the skis!

Winter wonderland Falun

Falun is known for the Falun Mine (Falu Gruva) which I visited back in summer. 70 percent of the world’s copper was once produced in this mine. Nowadays, the place is a World Heritage site. So far, I have only connected Falun with this astonishing mine, but this winter weekend has shown me completely new sites of the city. On the last day of the weekend, I decided to explore the Lugnet naturreservat in Falun by foot. There are some tracks online and I chose to do a loop of around 12km. Even though Germany also gets snow during winter times, I haven’t seen this much snow in years! It was incredibly beautiful to walk through this winter wonderland and see the nature covered in snow.

Sweden has a lot to offer regarding winter sports! I definitely recommend trying it out when you’re here in winter. But even if you’re looking for winter hikes, there is a lot of nature to explore!

Enjoy the snow!
// Maria

Sweden-India Mobility Hackathon

Student competitions are one of the most fascinating events considering how young talent can be mobilised and directed towards solving real-world challenges. It also exposes students to network with the people from industries and universities which more often opens up new possibilities. Sweden-India mobility hackathon is another such event organised by the Swedish Institute (SI).

Sweden and India have come together to develop solutions to the next generation of mobility challenges through the Sweden-India mobility hackathon. The hackathon focuses on utilizing the interests of students, entrepreneurs, developers who can work with mentors, partners such as Ericson, Volvo, Scania and jury member to further develop ideas that can be incubated through various incubation programs in Sweden.


The hackathon focuses on developing solutions in the five categories:

 • Lethal accidents in traffic

• Safe and sustainable transports

• Air pollution / emissions from traffic sector

• Infrastructure for connected vehicles

• Sustainable logistics

Participants would work in teams during the hackathon in a sprint environment collaborating to develop functional solutions to the above challenges. All participants will get access to the network of partners which includes KTH. The winners of the event will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas and continue to work on them in collaboration with the partner organisations.

Anyone with any degree of expertise can be part of the event and it is free for all participants. The hackathon would be happening from 26 – 28 March 2021 and the registrations are in progress as of today. For more information about the event and the timeline check out their website here.

Time for cooking!

Are you into cooking? When covid-19 started, and it was recommended to keep a distance to others and stay home, many people started to try out new hobbies like cooking or baking. Did you start a new hobby since last year?

I thought that I could use the extra time at home to start baking my own bread. You might have already heard that the Germans are obsessed with their bread 😀 Of course, proper bread consists of sourdough which needs a lot of care and time. Getting the texture, crust and taste right, takes many attempts. I can tell you: after a bit more than six months of trying, I finally managed to have a tasteful bread at home!

Self-made rye bread

Even though I love baking, I also like to cook. Are you more the baking or cooking type of person? Also, for cooking many of my friends have tried out new recipes and we have shared them in various social media groups since covid started. But sometimes, when I feel like I would like to cook something completely new, try something out, I can’t come up with any good ideas. In the end, I’ll most likely cook something old, that I’ve already done a hundred times.

However, there are so many possibilities nowadays to find recipes online! An app I can recommend is called “KptnCook“. What I like about this app is that it only gives you three recipes per day. So, if you have difficulties on deciding what to cook, a service like this could help you making your decision 😊 Another alternative that I learned from some of my Swedish friends is that supermarkets, like ICA for example, also have large databases of recipes on their websites. Here you can choose between the meal you’re looking for, the type of recipe or similar. The recipes are in Swedish, but this might be the best chance to improve your Swedish skills?

If I’m not searching for a specific recipe but want to get some inspiration, I’m usually going through Instagram or other social media platforms where many food influencers share their ideas and recipes. Do you have a favourite foodie on social media? Let me know in the comments – I would love to check them out as well!

Okay, after so much talking about food, I became hungry already 😀 But maybe today is a good day to bake something? I thought, I could share my favourite Kanelbulle recipe with you! It’s a recipe for blueberry cinnamon buns – I know that those variants of Kanelbulle are not quite what the Swedes are thinking of – but I recommend giving it a try! As right now is not the time for fresh blueberries, you can of course also take frozen blueberries – or keep the recipe for the summer!

Blueberry cinnamon buns

Blueberry cinnamon buns

Ingredients for 8-10 buns:

For the dough:

  • 1 package of dry yeast or 20g fresh yeast
  • 200ml milk
  • 80g sugar
  • 470g flour
  • 1 egg
  • 100g butter
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 60g butter
  • 80g sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 300g blueberries
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 50g flour
  • Pinch of salt

This is how you make the buns:

For the dough:

  1. Put the yeast into a bowl together with the milk and the sugar and stir well. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 10-15 minutes
  2. Then add flour, egg, 80g of the butter and salt and mix all together
  3. Give some butter (20g) on the dough and then let it rest for about 60 minutes, the dough should have doubled by then
  4. Mix sugar, vanilla sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and wash the blueberries
  5. Roll out the dough to a square and butter it
  6. Put the sugar-mix on top of the dough, then add the blueberries to it
  7. Roll up the dough lengthwise and cut into 3-4cm wide buns
  8. Put the buns on a baking tray that is covered with baking paper and let them rest for another 15 minutes
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C
  10. Whisk the egg yolk and milk and put on the top of the buns
  11. Bake the buns for 40-45 minutes until they are golden
  12. Enjoy your self-made buns!

I hope you have fun trying out this variant of Kanelbulle 😊 If you have any other good recipes, feel free to share them in the comments!

Happy baking & cooking!
// Maria