Wonderful Christmastime

Friday 12/6

I last left off that on Thursday 12/5, it had begun to snow for the first time. The weather forecast was unclear on if it would snow on Friday or not, but I really was hoping for more snow.

On Friday I was laying in bed before class and before looking out my window to check the conditions I looked on weather.com and it said that it was windy but with a minimal chance of snow, feeling sad I looked out my window and was happily surprised to see snow falling. Weather.com, you sit on a throne of lies, if someone knows a good site for Swedish or European weather I’d be grateful.

I headed off to the bus stop to go to class, I quite enjoy when it is snowing but I don’t quite enjoy the mixture of snow + wind which results in me looking like I just got dumped. On Thursday I started a new course called “Organization and Communication” and thankfully the professor for the month of December (the class is separated in 2 because Christmas and New Years are in the middle) who we currently have is really quite great. She studied through the program I’m in at Uppsala and pointed out some flaws in the way professors teach and wants to correct that in herself which is welcome. Whenever she brings up a new topic or theory instead of just having the definition on a powerpoint and moving on, she actually breaks it down and explains, which no professors have done here thus far. On Friday she stopped in the middle of lecture and had all of us turn around to watch the snow fall because it was so beautiful.

Christmas tradition time: I received kind feedback from my last post about sharing some Swedish christmas traditions so I will share a Dutch Christmas tradition that a classmate shared with me during our break in class!

Image

A mutual Belgian friend of ours posted this picture on Facebook so I asked her the tradition behind this!

Sinterklaas, or translated Saint Nicholas, is the primary holiday figure in the Netherlands and Belgium, and is celebrated on Saint Nicholas eve December 5 or the morning of December 6th. The night before children will place their boot in front of the fireplace with a carrot or celery stick as a gift to Sinterklaas’s horse. Then in the morning the treat is replaced with a treat for the child (usually oranges and chocolate) along with a note that traditionally rhymes from Sinterklaas. The dutchie group (there’s about 15 of them here and they are all a riot) had a get together where they did this and my classmate is a journalism major and she wrote page long notes to all of her friends from Sinterklaas that rhymed and inserted little tidbits about their lives that she showed and translated for me. It looks like such a fun and sweet tradition!

After class we had to brave the elements back to the bus, but not without a picture first!

Image

Walking in a winter wonderland.

Image

My eyes are basically closed because it was SO windy. The snow/flurry was result of a storm that was occurring throughout Sweden. Here in Sweden every storm has a name (much like hurricanes in the US) and this storm was named Sven, it should come as no surprise but I laughed because it’s so typically Swedish.

Image

It was a rougher walk to the bus stop than usual.

Around 2 I went back into town to meet up with my friend Nathan, a kiwi, for tapas at östgöta nation (the place that serves waffles also serves tapas friday afternoons)

The first photo is my view from the bus when I went to class at 10, the snow was just starting to fall.

Image

This second photo was taken around 1:45 on my way to tapas at the same location (practically)

Image

I had snowed quite a bit more and was considerably colder in the few hours difference.

ImageImage

It was an eclectic mix of options but we ordered 5 tapas each and then split. It was fun and something I would do again!

We then ran some errands together, and then I went home and watched more of my current tv obsession, Homeland. My goodness it’s such a good show, I love watching things about kick butt girls in government, but it also gives me slight anxiety. I have completed 2 seasons in 5 days, no big deal. UPDATE: I am currently caught up and eagerly anticipating the season 3 finale

Later I got ready and went over to Rusty’s corridor because it was his 21st birthday (which doesn’t have any special perks here like it does at home) and he was sharing a joint birthday party with an ozzie Clare. This is the description of the event on Facebook, really love having such hilarious friends…

“Do you happen to fancy Australia or the USA? Do you enjoy girls who have strange fascinations with cats or obnoxious boys that are surprising agile on the dance floor (if I do say so myself)? Most importantly, do you cherish the creation of life and the day upon which we as the human race, a bound entity across all lands, celebrate the addition of another shining soul into our small universe? Are you also a poor college student trying to survive in the expensive society of Sweden, therefore loving flogsta parties due to their nonexistent entrance fee? Well we have the place for you!!!”

It was a great time with great friends.

Saturday 12/7

I had heard through a website online that there was a flea/Christmas market in Gottsunda which is in Uppsala but the more rural part that may be of interest, so Kacey, Estibaliz, Jen and I took the bus over to check it out. Turns out it was basically just people selling items that they found in storage in their basement so unfortunately that was a bust. But the 20ish minute bus ride that we took there and a different bus we took back was really nice because 1. it was heated and 2. we were able to see the more untouched land in Uppsala where the freshly fallen snow was extra beautiful.

Image

Look how cool this bus stop is! The top translates to “Welcome here Welcome home” which is something I love.

We then went to Ikea for lunch (it’s the cheapest place in town and the food is delicious!) and then headed home.

That night was an Australian themed party thrown by one of my classmates Jack, once again another great fb description (this one is slightly inappropriate) ..

“It is time! In honour of absolutely nothing at all, the “Aussie Corridor” in Flogsta 4/7 have decided to invite you all to join us in experiencing the height of Australian culture – getting blotto!

Much excite! So wow! With a title like “Flogsta goes down-under” you can be sure that the sexual innuendos will be flowing as fast and thick as the cheap beer and goon. Hide your children, hide your wife, because we are going to be drinking like Paul Hogan after he saw the final cut of the “throw another shrimp on the barbie” ad.”

It was also a dress up party where we were forced to dress in Australian theme, slightly difficult but here were our interpretations…

Image

Jen doing her best koala pose, with a homemade headband (Impressive)

Image

You can’t see it here but Kacey’s tag says “Hi my name is Nicole Kidman”. After unsuccessfully trying to make an origami boomerang, the name tag was her best bet. Also every time she tried to pose with a straight face she couldn’t help but break into laughter, but with my stealth ninja photography skills I was able to capture a serious moment.

Image

Estibaliz did her research and dressed as an Australian lifeguard/beach patrol

Image

If you can’t read my name tag I dressed as Bindi Irwin because I had no other idea what to wear. Plus I told Jack beforehand and he said it was a great idea, thus settling the matter and making it a great costume.

Image

Revelry ensued and the 4 of us made some great memories.

Sunday 12/8

Our day didn’t start as early as we had initially hoped because of the previous nights antics, but Kacey and I had been planning on going to Sigtuna, a town that is halfway between Uppsala and Stockholm because each Sunday of advent they host a Christmas market!

We were joined by our friend Nicole, an ozzie, and went to the train station to figure out how to get there. The clerk suggested we take a train to a bus and we bought our tickets and were on our way. We took the train to the town of Knivsta, then went to look for the bus stop. Well we found it and then became sad because the bus (a regional one which come more infrequently than local busses) was set to come in an hour and ten minutes. There was no way we were going to wait outside in the freezing cold so we walked around to see what we could discover. Well it turns out Knivsta becomes a ghost town on Sundays because every place was closed on the main street except a thai restaurant and their local ICA supermarket. So we chose ICA and basically loitered for an hour, the girls bought pastries and I bought chili nuts, very healthy. We sat and ate our treats in seats by the checkout and watched what people bought, riveting.

Then we headed back to the bus stop to wait where Kacey found a way to pass the time

Image

We then were harassed by a bus driver who decided it was too cold for the three of us to wait for the bus in the cold and made us wait in a little convenience shop across the street. But we didn’t want to miss the bus, so we inched our way towards the shop and kept checking to see if he had left so we could go back to the buss stop. But each time we turned around he was stopped watching us urging us to go inside, he had great intentions but it made us nervous.

He then told us when our bus came and we boarded thankful to had made it after the wait. We then drove in a scenic area with barns and farms.

We made it to the proper stop and could see the festivities happening, it was such a cute main street. But first I’ll add in some history because Sigtuna is the first city founded in Sweden!

It was founded 980 AD by King Eric the Victorious, which is the last century of the Viking era, along the shore of Lake Mälaren as the first city and first christian town in Sweden. It was quite an important city and was the royal and commercial center of Sweden for a few hundred years and then in the 1300’s was surpassed in size and importance by Stockholm and Uppsala. It is home to ruins that are still standing and are very very old. Stora Gatan where we were, (which in english is translated to main street) are situated on top of the original main city center that was functioning for hundreds of years.

These church ruins were one of the first things we saw when we stepped off of the bus, I took this photo off of the internet because I didn’t take one myself, but it was incredible and worth noting. This is St. Olafs which first began construction in the early 1100’s, surreal to see something built 900 years ago still standing. Yes, I have been around things older than 900 years old especially since I was at the Colosseum less than a month ago, but what I love about this is that it’s not a place that is particularly well known and we just happened to stumble upon it.

Image

Image

Charming is the perfect word to describe this Christmas market.

Image

Image

A stand selling traditional Swedish pastries

ImageImage

Lingonberry jam is my jam.

ImageImage

Don’t ever try söt lakrits, it is salt licorice and my mouth doesn’t like it.

The town square is host to a cute Christmas tree

ImageImage

We then heard the sound of little angels singing and made our way to a stage with small children singing Christmas carols. Some were songs originally sung in english but they translated and then made swedish, their voices were the cutest little things. The girl in the winter white peacoat thought that singing and dancing went hand in hand and it was so adorable.

Image

We also spotted a yeti

Image

We then couldn’t help ourselves and got some glögg

Image

It was so cold that here you can see Kacey’s breath in this photo.

Image

Image

My favorite two flags together

Image

These two girls were the sweetest and fundraising for a trip, additionally their moms were so nice so we bought some treats from them

I bought lussebullar, which is a traditional pastry served during Lucia day. The girl chosen as St. Lucia, Swedes don’t do beauty pageants or it is not popular at least, a friend of mine said because it’s oppressive to women by judging them on their appearance (I can see that). The girl chosen to fulfill the role as St.Lucia is the closest thing they get to a beauty pageant. Usually each town/city has one girl picked to be St.Lucia which is chosen (don’t know the specifics) from girls who nominate themselves for the role. Anyways, traditionally St.Lucia carries pastries and treats and this treat is made in honor of St.Lucia and seasonal.

IMG_1835

There were prettier ones in the bunch but unfortunately the others had already been happily consumed. But lussebullar is a pastry made with saffron in a twisty shape with a raisin placed at each end. If you’re interested in making your own, you should be, they are excellent, check out this recipe here for better instructions. But this is a sampling of the ingredients used to make this Scandinavian pastry.

  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads, finely crumbled (or 1 tsp. powdered saffron)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 pkg. dry active yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, well-beaten, plus one egg white
  • raisins or currants to decorate

I hope to make them during a future Christmas to remember this time here fondly.

After we walked to the Sigtuna Museum to check it out, where we stumbled across a few things of interest.

IMG_1763

IMG_1764

Some tablets extracted from Viking ruins, I should be a better tourist in my own town but Uppsala has some viking tablets placed throughout the city that I should pay better attention to because they are awesome.

IMG_1767

I wish I could tell you the meaning behind this piece, but what’s featured is prettyyyyyy self explanatory.

IMG_1770 IMG_1773

Love the triangle candles in windows, easily one of my favorite things about the holiday season in Sweden.

IMG_1775

The three of us we standing along the side of the street and were pleasantly surprised by what we saw and heard approaching us.

IMG_1777 IMG_1779

A St. Lucia procession in the works! All of the girls were singing traditional Swedish songs while walking down the street. It then became similar to a Disney parade in which while they passed everyone stopped in their tracks to watch them, then after they had walked by everyone followed to a small stage where they continued to sing.

IMG_1780 IMG_1783

A plush version of St. Lucia. So cute!

We then walked down a side road to see the town lake. Kacey had gone to Sigtuna previously with the summer course and wanted to see the how different it looked in wintertime and I wanted to see the lake because I have been missing being near large bodies of water. I know that may sound strange but the past 12ish years of my life I have lived within walking distance to the ocean and I miss it dearly. So I happily took this view as a substitute

IMG_1786

My night photography skills are a work in progress, but it’s still pretty and there were a few chunks of ice in the lake from the recent snow fall.

IMG_1787

Then one of my worst nightmares happened. Not joking. I’m not the most fond of birds, actually I’ll be honest and say that I don’t like birds. I don’t like anything that has the potential of hitting me in the face.

The above photo is blurry because A. It was on the nighttime setting, which has a longer exposure, thus a higher possiblity of a distorted picture B. As the flash went off for this photo a duck purposefully flew at my face with wings fully extended

Frightening I tell ya. I most definitely screamed and ran away.

IMG_1790

The market closed at 4pm because thats how things work here with the lack of sunlight. It was pitch black at around 3:30 pm and vendors started packing up and going home. Our bus was scheduled to arrive at 4:42 so we had some time, in which we decided to use by exploring. The above house was spotted on our stroll and it’s so beautiful and ideal, the homemade swing helps to add to the appeal.

I should also mention that it was extremely cold. Having been here long enough, 30 degree weather is nothing new to me. But after the snowfall the day before it was a whopping 18 degrees, that felt even colder when outside for over 2 hours with added wind. There was a time after the sun had set where I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes even with my snow boots and gloves on. I had to take one glove off at a time and stick my hand under my collar bone until I could feel it again, rinse and repeat, until the bus came.

Once on the bus the three of us promptly fell into a nice slumber. It was a really wonderful Christmas market and I plan to come back in the summer time to enjoy the lake!

Thursday Dec 12

The mid week consisted of school, general errands and watching cheesy christmas movies with Kacey.

Thursday Estibaliz, Jen, Kacey and I all had the day off of class and decided to go to Stockholm to explore the Christmas markets and finish up some Christmas shopping. A guaranteed good time.

IMG_1793

The SJ trains always look so classy.

IMG_1794 IMG_1795

We made our way into town and decided to walk towards the palace because we knew that the main tourist/shopping areas were nearby and would surely lead us to the market.

Also to be noted, during the week there was a day of light snow, which was then followed by rain, washing away all of the snow. It makes me sad because this time of the year is when I am welcoming snow and it doesn’t want to make an appearance in time for the holiday season. The weather was quite warm on Thursday and was around 40 degrees.

IMG_1796 IMG_1797 IMG_1799

The best of both worlds, a triangle candle and a small lantern!

IMG_1800

See how low the sun appears in the above photo reflecting off of the windows and signs of the streets? I’m quite sure that at this point the sun never fully rises to its full potential. On the 12th the sun rose at 8:43 and set at 2:44, it’s a bit rough but I have gotten used to it and it doesn’t bother me as much. It’s getting darker and darker until December 21st which is the Winter Solstice where it will then slowly become lighter and lighter. I appreciate sunlight more than ever before. I’ll be very excited when the sun sets around 4:30 which will hopefully start around February.

IMG_1806After a few missteps taken by me we had reached one of our destinations. Maybe it was the lack of snow or the bigger city feel but Sigtuna was a more charming market, but this one was still enjoyable.

IMG_1804

Lots of elementary school kids crowded the candy booth

IMG_1808

A mistletoe stand where a young woman was trying on a St. Lucia crown.

None of us purchased anything at the market but it was nice to see!

IMG_1810 IMG_1811 IMG_1812

I will never stop appreciating how beautiful all of the buildings are here.

IMG_1817

This street near the train station is a huge shopping area for Swedes, there’s not any tourist shops and it’s mostly clothing stores with a sprinkling of cafes. Also on this street alone there are no less than four H&M’s.

IMG_1820

The sunset was so beautiful with the sky a mix of pink and blue, the beauty makes it a little less painful that this was taken at 3:00pm

IMG_1821 IMG_1823

This Åhléns reminded me of the Bloomingdales or Nordstroms back at home at the mall I used to work at South Coast Plaza, it was a massive 5 stories and was so festive inside.

I successfully finished Christmas shopping (I think) and hope my family loves their presents!

I also treated myself to a small gift which I believe is a lovely addition to my postcard collection in my room 🙂

IMG_1837

We then made our way back to the train station and rode back to my favorite city in the world.

IMG_1826

But first some photos of us on the train!

IMG_1825 IMG_1827

Natural beauties.

IMG_1831

I’m starting to resemble Casper.

IMG_1832

We’re simply having a wonderful Christmastime.

Next post: Lussegask occurring the 14th!

7 thoughts on “Wonderful Christmastime

  1. Troy Richardson

    Cassie, as usual you have done a wonderful job letting us experience your adventure. Your pictures are great! Love, Nana

    Reply
  2. patty

    What an exciting time to be in Sweden. How cool it was for you to see a St. Lucia procession ! I love all your photos and blog. Every time I read it I get excited for our trip in April!

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Stegnine Slott – Traditional Swedish Christmas market | Tale of Nordic SAGA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s