Holidays at SwenglishRantings.Com Holidays, Events and Celebrations

Dec 20 2007

Reindeer on the March…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — entry @ 16:27

This is the actual turnoff from Banff , Alberta , Canada to the #1 highway to Calgary

Great picture isn’t it? They had to build the animals (especially the elk) their own crossing because

that was where the natural crossing was and after the highway was built there were far too many

accidents. I understand it didn ‘ t take the animals long to learn that this was “their road. “



Ok, I know they are Elk and Reindeer can fly anyway.



Oct 26 2007

Pumpkin Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — entry @ 18:55

Jul 01 2007

Happy Canada Day!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — MonkeyPrincess @ 11:39

July 1st is Canada’s National Day.


The Canadian National Anthem:


O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Ô Canada!
Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!
Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

Canada Day, or Fête du Canada marks the creation of the Dominion of Canada through the British North America Act on July 1, 1867, uniting three British colonies—the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Canada. The three colonies united to form one country divided into four provinces. The Province of Canada became Ontario and Quebec.

A proclamation was issued by Governor General Lord Monck, on June 20, 1868, asking for “all Her Majesty’s loving subjects throughout Canada to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of Canada on July 1”.

The holiday was formally established by statute in 1879, and was originally called Dominion Day, making reference to the term “dominion,” which was first used to describe a political union within the British Empire for Canada, at a time when the British government was hesitant to adopt the name proposed by the Fathers of Confederation: Kingdom of Canada.

Dominion Day was not a particularly prominent holiday in its early inceptions; in the late 19th and early 20th many Canadians continued to think of themselves as primarily British, and were thus less interested in celebrating a distinctly “Canadian” form of patriotism. No official celebrations were held on July 1 from confederation until 1917, the golden anniversary of Confederation, and then none again until ten years later. This trend declined in the post-war era. Beginning in 1958, the Canadian government orchestrated Dominion Day celebrations, usually consisting of Trooping the Colours ceremonies on Parliament Hill in the afternoon and evening, followed by a mass band concert and fireworks display. Canada’s centennial of July 1, 1967 is often seen as an important day in the history of Canadian patriotism, and Canada’s maturity as a distinct, independent country. Post-1967, Dominion Day became far more popular with average Canadians. Into the late 1960s, nationally televised, multi-cultural concerts were added, and the fete became known as “Festival Canada.” After 1980, the Canadian government began to promote the celebrating of Dominion Day beyond the national capital, giving grants and aid to cities across the country to help fund local activities.

The name was officially changed to Canada Day on October 27, 1982, largely harking back to the adoption of the earlier Canada Act 1982. However, many Canadians had already been informally referring to the holiday as “Canada Day” for a number of years before the official name change.

Quebec also has Moving Day on July 1, due to the fact that most leases there begin and end on that day, with many people changing residences.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, July 1 is recognized as a day of remembrance and sacrifice, and commemorates the Newfoundland Regiment’s heavy losses during World War I, at Beaumont Hamel, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Remembrance ceremonies similar to those held on Remembrance Day are held in the morning at Cenotaphs around the province; flags are usually at half-mast (and the atmosphere somewhat more sombre) until noon, when normal Canada Day ceremonies start.

Under the federal Holidays Act, Canada Day is always observed on July 1 unless that date falls on a Sunday, in which case it is officially observed on July 2. Most provinces observe the statutory holiday on July 2 in that situation as well, although events generally take place on July 1 even though it is not legal.

If it falls on a Saturday, the following Sunday is generally also a day off for those businesses ordinarily closed on Saturdays.

Jun 21 2007

GLAD MIDSOMMAR – Happy Midsummer!!!

Filed under: Swedish traditions — Tags: , , , — MonkeyPrincess @ 21:17

Midsummer is here – day and night are right now equally long, and not even at night does it get very dark here, even though the REAL midnight sun is only experienced above the Pole Circle…

On Midsummer Eve in OUR family, we have almost always gone to this Midsummer celebration located on a field behind an old church. Midsummer weddings are very popular, so we have had the opportunity to watch a happy couple come out onto the church steps on more than one occasion.

What do we do at these Midsummer celebrations then?

Well, first you have to “dress the maypole”, everybody helps in picking flowers and cutting birch branches that will be wrapped, tied and in other ways applied to the pole. This is also a very good opportunity to make the flower wreaths that you put on your head – there is nothing sweeter than a little girl in her best dress, with a wreath of flowers on her head, dancing around in the grass…

Then comes the “raising of the pole”. This is when they start asking strong men to come up to the pole, because raising a really big maypole takes a lot of effort. Some push the pole upright, while others hold it steady with ropes attached to the top, until they get it down into its hole in the ground.

Then the dancing can begin!

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The dancing around the Maypole is very similar to the dancing around the Christmas tree – this is the only time of year that you will see grown men (usually forced to join in by their wives, who wants their husbands to take active part in their children’s Midsummer celebrations) squatting down, hopping forward in the big circle around the pole, waving their hands by their ears and behind their behinds (that sounded silly!), singing about:

Ingen midsommar utan små grodorna.

“The small frogs, the small frogs, are amusing to see, no ears, no ears, no tails do they have..”

“SmÃ¥ grodorna, smÃ¥ grodorna, är lustiga att se, ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de…”

Usually at these celebrations, there is a musician or even a band that plays the traditional music on accordion, guitar, violin, maybe even a clarinet or a trumpet. Tape recorders and so on are more common at family celebrations in somebody’s back yard.

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At the bigger events there is also a “folkdanslag”, a dance troop that perform the old traditional Swedish dances – I always look forward to the “Oxdansen”, the “Oxen dance”. This one is performed by two male dancers, it is like a pretend battle to prove their manliness and impress the ladies, pounces and slaps that can get pretty hard and very realistic…

I managed to track down a video where you can see just what the “Oxdansen” is all about – mind you, in this particular video they are NOT celebrating Midsummer (but it’s still a very funny version):

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At the bigger festivities there are usually stands where you can buy coffee, soda, buns and cookies, and often there are handcrafted items that you can win by buying a raffle ticket – a LOT of money usually goes to those tickets, and if there is a toy raffle the kids will beg and beg for “just ONE more ticket, this time I KNOW I’ll win”…

Most people bring their own picnic baskets, and enjoy the day sitting on blankets they spread out on the ground.

When everybody feels like they’ve had enough, it is time to go home and eat the Midsummer dinner.

New potatoes, pickled herring, sour cream, chopped chive… THAT IS MIDSUMMER!!! (Yes, we DO drink schnapps, and we DO sing our little “drinking songs”, that’s just part of the whole tradition. Not everybody gets totally drunk, though…)

When it is getting dark (since Midsummer is the brightest time of year, this can sometimes be VERY late) all the girls go out to pick seven different kind of flowers to put under their pillow. While picking them you have to be ABSOLUTELY quiet, and this is a GREAT opportunity for all the boys to be real pests and try to get the girls to speak… Hopefully, the girls manage to stay silent, and find all the flowers – they have to be seven different kinds, duplicates are not allowed, and only WILD flowers! This way they will dream about the man they will marry…

My daughter picked her seven flowers a few years ago, put them under her pillow and went to sleep. The next morning she was very angry when she woke up – she muttered “I dreamed all night about a COW”!!!

Here is a little video that I found that shows you a VERY STRANGE Midsummer celebration – this is an ad from the German IKEA that was banned by the Swedish IKEA head office, because it made fun of Swedish traditions:

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Of course, it is almost uncanny how it always manages to start to RAIN n Midsummer’s Eve!!! This year it looks like we’ll be having a VERY WET event…

Well, there is ONE good thing about a rainy day – according to old time superstition, rain in the bride’s crown is suppose to bring good fortune to the marriage – midsummer brides SURE are fortunate!!!

And now for some…

Midsummer history:

Midsummer Day was originally celebrated on 24 June to commemorate John the Baptist. In 1953, it was moved to the nearest Saturday. In agrarian times, Midsummer celebrations in Sweden were held to welcome summertime and the season of fertility.

In some areas, therefore, people dressed up as ‘green men’, clad in ferns. They also decorated their houses and farm tools with foliage, and raised tall, leafy maypoles to dance around, probably as early as the 16th century and modeled on a German tradition.

Midsummer was primarily an occasion for young people, but it was also celebrated in the industrial communities of central Sweden, where all mill employees were given a feast of pickled herring, beer and schnapps.

It was not until the 20th century, however, that this became the most Swedish of all traditional festivities.

Ever since the 6th century AD, Midsummer bonfires have been lit around Europe. In Sweden, they were mainly found in the southern part of the country.

Young people also liked to visit holy springs, where they drank the healing waters and amused themselves with games and dancing. These visits were a reminder of how John the Baptist baptized Christ in the River Jordan.

Midsummer Night is the lightest of the year and was long considered a magical night, as it was the best time for telling people’s futures.

Girls ate salted porridge (‘dream porridge’) so that their future husbands might bring water to them in their dreams, to quench their thirst. They also kept watch at springs for a reflection of their husband-to-be in the water.

On Midsummer Night, you could discover places where treasure was buried, for example by studying how moonbeams fell. When digging, you might be confronted by strange sights that would tempt you to laugh or speak, such as a lame hen pulling a large hay-load. If you managed to keep quiet, you would find the treasure.

Also that night, it was said,water was turned into wine and ferns into flowers. Many plants acquired healing powers on that one night of the year.

In modern Sweden, Midsummer’s Eve and Midsummer’s Day (Midsommarafton and Midsommardagen) are celebrated from the eve of the Friday between June 19 – 25. It is arguably the most important holiday of the year, and one of the most uniquely Swedish in the way it is celebrated, even if it has been influenced by other countries long ago. The main celebrations take place on the Friday, and the traditional events include raising and dancing around a huge maypole. One typical dance is the frog dance. Before the maypole is raised, greens and flowers are collected and used to cover the entire pole.

Raising and dancing around a maypole (majstÃ¥ngen or midsommarstÃ¥ngen) is an activity that attracts families and many others. People dancing around the pole listen to traditional music and many wear traditional folk costumes. The year’s first potatoes, pickled herring, sour cream, and possibly the first strawberries of the season are on the menu. Drinking songs are also important at this feast, and many drink heavily.

Because Midsummer is one of the times of the year when magic is believed to be the strongest, it was a good night to perform rituals to look into the future. Traditionally, young people pick bouquets of seven or nine different flowers and put them under their pillow in the hope of dreaming about their future spouse. In the past it was believed that herbs picked at Midsummer were highly potent, and water from springs could bring good health. Greenery placed over houses and barns were supposed to bring good fortune and health to people and livestock; this old tradition of decorating with greens continues, even though most don’t take it seriously. To decorate with greens was called att maja (to “may”) and may be the origin of the word majstÃ¥ng, maja coming originally from the month May Other researchers say the term came from German merchants who raised the maypole in June because the Swedish climate made it impossible to find the necessary greens and flowers in May, and continued to call it a maypole. Today, however, it is most commonly called a midsommarstÃ¥ng. In earlier times, small spires wrapped in greens were erected; this probably predates the maypole tradition, which is believed by many to have come from the continent in the Middle Ages. Others argue that some form of Midsummer pole occurred in Sweden during the pre-Christian times, and was a phallic fertility symbol, meant to impregnate the earth, but as there were no records from those times it cannot be proven, and this idea might just be a modern interpretation of the poles form. The earliest historical mention of the maypole in Sweden is from the Middle Ages. Midsummer was however linked to an ancient fertility festival which was adapted into St. Johan’s day by the church, even though it retained many pagan traditions, as the Swedes were slow to give up the old heathen customs. The connection to fertility is naturally linked to the time of year. Many young people became passionate at Midsummer, and this was accepted, probably because it resulted in more childbirths in March which was a good time for children to be born.

To many Swedes this holiday is seen as a holiday of partying, and as the start of the summer. The cities become almost deserted as most people travel to the country, often to their summer cottages, to celebrate. Midsummer rivals Christmas as the most important holiday of the year.

Jun 06 2007

June 6th – Sweden’s National Day

Filed under: Swedish traditions — Tags: , , — MonkeyPrincess @ 10:30

The National Day of Sweden is celebrated on June 6 every year. The day was made into a national day by the Riksdag (Swedish parliament) in 1983, before which it was just revered as the Swedish flag day or Day of the Swedish flag.

The tradition of celebrating this date began in the 1920s, in honor of the election of King Gustav Vasa in 1523, as this was considered the foundation of modern Sweden.

Some question the validity of this as a national holiday, as it was not observed as a holiday until centuries later. However this event does signify the end of the Danish-ruled Kalmar Union, so in a sense it is a marking of Swedish independence, though the event occurred so long ago that it does not have as strong of a presence in the social consciousness as does, for example, Norway’s Syttende Mai (May 17th).

In 2005 it became an official Swedish public holiday, taking that honor from Whit Monday. This change led to fewer days off from work (more working-days) as the 6th of June will periodically fall on the weekend, unlike Whit Monday, which was always celebrated on a Monday. This has in turn led to complaints from some Swedish unions.

Most Swedes just see this day as “a possible day off” – you might get the flag up, but other than that you don’t really celebrate anything… The participation in the festivities that actually DO take place around the country this day varies from year to year. Immigrants who have become Swedish citizens during the year get a personal invitation to the respective communities’ festivities, and they then get an official welcome to Sweden…

Related events

  • 1523 – Gustav Vasa is elected King of Sweden, marking the end of the Kalmar Union.
  • 1654 – Charles X succeeds his cousin Christina to the Swedish throne after her abdication.
  • 1809 – Sweden promulgates a new Instrument of Government, which restores political power to the Riksdag of the Estates.
  • 1857 – Sophia of Nassau marries the future King Oscar II of Sweden-Norway.
  • 1974 – A new Instrument of Government is promulgated, making Sweden a Constitutional Monarchy, with parliamentarism inscribed into the Constitution.

The events of 1523 and 1809 are generally regarded as the most important; the first reestablishing Sweden as an independent country after the Kalmar union, the other establishing an Instrument of Government that was used until the 1970s.

The Swedish National Anthem

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Du gamla, Du fria (“Thou ancient, Thou free”) is the de facto national anthem of Sweden. Although the Swedish constitution makes no mention of a national anthem, the song enjoys universal recognition and is used, for example, at sporting events. Only the first two verses are normally sung. At international sporting events, often only the first verse is played, which is really more like playing only half a verse of “God save the Queen”, and ending before the last chorus-like strophes. Furthermore, many – if not most – instrumental recordings instead take up time by playing the repeated fourth and fifth strophe of the melody as an “intro” before playing the actual song. This is something that is never done with any other national anthem. The lyrics were written by Richard Dybeck in 1844 to a traditional melody from Västmanland, and have sometimes been wrongly thought as beginning with “Du gamla, Du friska” (Thou ancient, Thou hale). However, the original lyrics are “Du gamla, Du fria” (Thou ancient, Thou free). The song first began to be used as a national anthem in the 1890s. Despite a widespread belief that the song was adopted as the national anthem in 1866, no such recognition has ever been officially accorded. In 2000 a Riksdag committee rejected, as “unnecessary”, a proposal to give the song official status.

It should be noted that the true title of the song is SÃ¥ng till Norden (“Song to the North”). The opening words Du gamla, Du fria as the title is rather the de facto title. Mostly everything concerning this very unofficial national anthem deals with de facto singing this way, or that way. Another very common mistake is singing “Jag vet att Du är och förblir vad du var” instead of “Jag vet att Du är och Du blir vad du var” in that strophe.

Patriotic sentiment is notably absent from the text of the original two verses, which is because they were written in the spirit of Scandinavism popular at the time (Norden can also refer to the Nordic countries in Swedish).

Since the song had started getting its informal status of national anthem, Louise Ahlén wrote the verses three and four in 1910. They have, however, very seldom been published, and have remained practically unknown to the public.


Original verses by Richard Dybeck:

Du gamla, Du fria, Du fjällhöga nord
Du tysta, Du glädjerika sköna!
Jag hälsar Dig, vänaste land uppå jord,
/: Din sol, Din himmel, Dina ängder gröna.:/
Du tronar på minnen från fornstora dar,
då ärat Ditt namn flög över jorden.
Jag vet att Du är och Du blir vad du var.
/: Ja, jag vill leva jag vill dö i Norden.:/
Louise Ahlén’s addition from 1910 (usually not seen as part of the national anthem, and not sung)
Jag städs vill dig tjäna mitt älskade land,
din trohet till döden vill jag svära.
Din rätt, skall jag värna, med håg och med hand,
/:din fana, högt den bragderika bära.:/
Med Gud skall jag kämpa, för hem och för härd,
för Sverige, den kära fosterjorden.
Jag byter Dig ej, mot allt i en värld
/: Nej, jag vill leva jag vill dö i Norden.:/

Literal translation

Original verses by Richard Dybeck:

You ancient, you free, you mountainous North
You quiet, you joyful beauty!
I greet You, most beautiful land upon earth,
/:Your sun, Your sky, Your meadows green.:/
You throne upon memories of great olden days,
When honoured Your name flew over the world,
I know that You are and will be as you were,
/: Yes, I want to live I want to die in the North :/
Louise Ahlén’s addition from 1910 (usually not seen as part of the national anthem, and not sung)
I forever will serve my beloved country,
your faith until death will I swear,
Your right will I protect with mind and with hand,
/:your banner, great the feats it carries.:/
With God shall I struggle (fight), for home and for hearth,
for Sweden, the dear motherland.
I trade You not, for anything in the world
/: No, I want to live I want to die in the
North :/
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