Andreas' parents gave us the beautiful yellow flowers and yummy Easter egg filled with lots of candy shown above. In Sweden Easter traditions include painting eggs and eating lots of candy. Spring flowers are purchased to decorate inside and colorful feathers are attached to trees outside of homes. Aside from the Christian beliefs Swedish folklore tells of witches flying to the blue mountain to meet the devil during Easter. It reminded me of Halloween because children go from house to house dressed up as witches with long skirts, colorful scarfs, and painted rosy cheeks, presenting the occupants with small drawings or paintings they made in the hope of getting sweets in return.
Swedes love sweets! The quintessential vision of a swede conjures up images roughly depicting a tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, in shape, attractive person. A stereotype I've found to be rather true, but there is of course diversity within, but with a noticeable shortage of overweight people, which is a great, I just don't understand how they do it!
Swedes have the highest candy (godis) consumption in the world, or at least so says my rather unreliable sources, but a number of Swedes have said it...so it must be true, right? In any event I believe them, and for the love of candy eating, Swedes have dedicated a special day, Saturdays, for doing just that. Parents train children from a young age to wait patiently for Saturday to roll around so they can eat bags full of godis. To be fair, these are small little paper bags, but still. It's actually kind of smart, because kids don't go around begging their parents for candy all week long.
The whole Saturday is for candy thing might fly, but then there are a slew of other days also devoted to sweet consumption. Let us begin with Kannelbullens Dag, a holiday devoted to eating cinnamon buns. There is also Semlor Dag, round sweet breads filled with cream, and don't forget Våffeldagen, a day to indulge in waffles topped with jam and cream! Easter is celebrated with large eggs filled with candy too. Strangely, Halloween trick-or-treating hasn't quite taken, but surely it will in the future. Let me also mention that a typical Swedish diet is rather hearty, think meat and potatoes with lots of sauce. Oh how Swedes love their sauces, for example McDonald's has 6 dipping sauces to choose from, such as sour cream and chive, sweet chili, garlic, melted cheese, and for what? Well, cheese I can understand, MMmmmm cheese...but I digress.
The real problem is Fika, which means coffee break. Swedes have actually made a verb out of the word...fika, fikar, fikat, fikade, and it's truly integrated into everyday life. Coffee is fine (Swede's also have one of the highest coffee consumptions in the world), but the coffee is usually accompanied by a slice of cake, cookies, or some other dessert! Everyone takes fika breaks. They are like cigarette breaks for smokers and just as craved. I was taking another Swedish course on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:00pm to 3:00pm which had a 30 minute fika pause! Did we really need a half hour fika break for a 2 hour, twice a week course? Yes, yes we did, says the Swede.
This isn't directly sweet related but it ties in, and that would be the weekly event of Fredagsmys. Fredag means Friday and mys comes from the verb mysa which means to cuddle, now isn't that cute? Friday nights, may your guilt be left behind, and all can feel free to enjoy something like chips, pizza, ice cream, tacos (popular for some reason), and even candy (adults only, children must wait for Saturday)
So there you have it, holidays galore, fredagsmys, saturdays godis, and everyday fika! I write this not to scold, but rather applaud, as I am in awe of how most Swedes live healthy, active lifestyles, maintaining their weight despite the above mentioned opposition. Hats off to them!
Lastly, I feel compelled to mention that there are a select few, such as Andreas, that neither drink coffee, nor enjoy godis. Now wouldn't that be nice? :)
This picture is from 09/19/2010,
the day my Swedish life began.