My husband bought me this 309 pages of glossy book for me as a present. It’s a book filled with full of interesting facts, traditions, beautiful photos, history, art, basically everything you need to know about Sweden. I have to say that I must give some credits to my husband, he’s done a good propaganda job to introduce Sweden to me or maybe I should give the credits to the three wonderful authors instead. If you don’t fall in love with Sweden after you read the book then you must be dead inside.
Here is a few interesting things that mentioned in the book, I also experienced a few of these things myself. Crayfish parties are a big culinary tradition in Sweden. The partied normally happen in early August once the crayfish fishing season is started. Swedish crayfish are fresh water creatures and are traditionally cooked with dill, salt (a lot of salt), sugar, porter or beer. They are eaten cold. You have to drink snaps ( snaps have an alcohol content of 40%. You drink it in shot glasses) with your crayfish, also you have to sing traditional Swedish snap songs before you down your shot. That’s lots of effort to go through to get drunk but at least you will be a happy drunk. There are so many different snap songs, often with funny and a bit weird lyrics. I guess whoever made up the lyrics must be drunk at the time. I have no idea how Swedish people know about these songs, very often when one person starts to sing a song then the rest of people would start to follow. Sometimes, there is even duet in the song and people know exactly what to do. I asked my husband if the school had singing classes for learning Swedish snap songs when he was little but he said no. Liar (that’s my theory)! People also wear small paper hats and bibs while the tables are decorated with flowers and paper lanterns in the shape of the man in the moon. If you go to Ikea at the beginning of August, you will be able to buy all the decorations and frozen ready-cooked crayfish for the party. Ideally the party should be held outdoors and cheese, pie and bread are also served. We hosted a crayfish party for our Swedish and English friends in London last year. The party lasted for 5 hours and everyone joined in singing all the songs. Since my English friends don’t know any Swedish snap songs, they song ‘Rule Britanna’ instead.
Midsummer celebration is the ‘holiest’ of Sweden festivals. Some even say that this celebration is more important than Christmas. Swedes really go out of their way to celebrate Midsummer. People normally dress up in their traditional costumes which is such a contrast to this high-tech nation, they pick wildflowers and birch foliage to dress the maypole, a timber pole attached with two larger wreaths. The maypole represent fertility and the maypole has to be put up by men only then women and children will dance and sing around the pole once the maypole is up. Typical Midsummer fare consists of pickled herring, new potatoes, sour cream, chives, strawberries and snaps, of course. Strawberries are a must for the Midsummer celebration, a cold spring can cause headaches for Swedish strawberry farmers and send shock waves across the country. And if the potato crops also fails, the nation will be plunged into a black hole of despair.
You may know that ABBA is one of the most famous music groups in the world, but do you know that ABBA is also a famous Swedish seafood company? The two guys from the group, Björn and Benny met at a party in Linköping in 1966, then a few years later the two Bs met the two As, Anni-Frid and Agnetha, they simply combined their initials together and the band name ABBA was born. As it said in the book ‘before deciding on ABBA they ring the famous Swedish seafood company of the same name and ask their permission. The company perceives the young group to be a clean cut bunch that is unlikely to affect their reputation, so they agree. Little could they know that their pop group namesake would go on to be considerably more famous than their herrings.’ The first time I saw ABBA branded herring, I thought the singing group ABBA has created the seafood company after their retirement but little did I know that it’s the other way round.
It will take me days to write about this book. It feels like every single page is worth talking about. Sweden has not only introduced us to flat packed furniture, IKEA and affordable high-fashion, H&M, they also invented the zipper and pacemaker. It’s truly an amazing achievement for a 9 million population nation.