Already! Last night I saw two guys and a Christmas tree on a moped. One of the strongest traditions on the islands is hunting for Christmas trees. Children of all ages, including some childish adults, start collecting trees for Easter. They hide them away in garages, barns and even wells and man-holes. It’s not a challenge to be taken lightly on, there are numerous fights and break-ins during the hunting period. It’s all a build up for the big Easter bonfire. Well, fires plural. Come Easter eve the trees are brought out and stacked on two of the highest locations on Hönö, depending on what part of the island you come from. Of course all the other islands are in on the game and have their own bon fires. There are actually two fires at each location. One smaller one called Fuskefyren (the trick-fire) which is lit first to fool the other part of the island to light their fire first, although everyone knows this it still goes on. The winner is the one who lights their last and of course with the most trees. It does get out of hand sometimes, there is a lot of rivalry going on and mixed with large amounts of beer and fireworks on top of that, you join in at your own risk. A friend who is born on the island told be about when she was a teenager and watching the fire being lit. Not only wood was put on fire but they had stacked car tires on top. When the trees burned down the tires fell of. She found herself running down the hill, in darkness, slightly intoxicated chased by burning tires…
Finally it’s Christmas! In Sweden we celebrate on Xmas eve. The day started with the children opening one present each, lots of cooking, eating and then opening the rest of the prezzies. The rest of Sweden usually sit down in front of the telly at 3pm watching old cartoons but we have ditched that tradition. I cooked meatballs, prinskorv(short little sausages), red cabbage, salmon, herring and potato gratin. Traditionally you have Jansson’s temptation but since I don’t like anchovies everyone will have to make do with gratin. Another traditional meal is Lut fisk, fish soaked in water, then in Lye(which makes it caustic) and then soaked in baths of water, then cooked and eaten with bechamel sauce. My grandmother used to cook it along with Xmas sausage. I remember as a child helping in the kitchen making sausages from scratch, stuffing and twisting them.
The evening will be spent on the sofa with Glögg, chocolates and some nice old English ghost stories or maybe a boardgame or two. The best thing is, since half the family is English, we will do it all again tomorrow!
I think we can give up the hope for a white Christmas this year. There was a hail storm this morning and more stormy weather expected tomorrow. Hopefully I’ve fixed the hen yard for the last time, this morning I dug around the wooden poles and put cement to stop them from blowing over, again. The garden doesn’t seem to care about it being December. the Christmas roses are being accompanied by spring flowers coming up. time to start planning for next years gardening! Actually I have started to flick through the seed catalogue already…
I have now done my first days at the second hand shop down the harbour. Thought about joining for a long time but wasn’t sure I would have the time with all my thousand projects, now I’m so happy I volunteered, so much fun! It is amazing how much work they do, the volunteers, and how generous people are donating things. The general age of the staff is probably around 60-70 years old but they run around like teenagers, sorting, serving coffee, carrying furniture, never still for one minute. No one gets paid for it and all the money goes to charity. The only drawback is that I will probably spend a whole lot more money than I should, buying everything I unpack. At least it is for a good cause!
Finally I got some time to do more wet plates and try out my new glass plate holder. With the chicks running around my legs and interesting conversations with the neighbour I completely lost track of exposure but still had a few “keepers”. My neighbour told me about the photographers in the old days who walked around, using the same technique then as I do now, offering portraits on metal for 75 Swedish öre(0.75 SKR). It made me think of a picture I got from my aunt a while back. It’s a tintype of my mammas farfar (my mums granddad) Hildor and my morfar(granddad) Eskil. The photo was taken year 1920.
Note: Maybe I should add…this is an analog technique where the picture needs to be taken while the plate is wet, there of Wet plate. If it’s made on metal it’s called Tin-type, on glass Ambrotype.
Last night we tried out the new gingercookie shapes, put together a house and decorated. Not bad for one evenings work. Don’t know why they call it ginger cookies in English because the direct translation in Swedish is Pepparkakor(pepper cookies)? The children tried non-alcoholic Glögg, the response was a lot of spitting and going yack, blä, usch etc. I on the other hand love Glögg(mulled wine), with or without alcohol, preferably warm with raisins and almonds.
Another tradition wich isn’t as widespread in Sweden but still there, is Mumma. My English husband asked me the other day if I had ever heard of it? He had read an article in the Guardian where the journalist wrote about Mumma but wasn’t convinced that there was acutally such a thing. We picked up a couple of bottles of Jul-Mumma from Systembolaget(in Sweden you can only buy alcohol in goverment owned shops Monday-Saturday, if you are over 20 years old). It was my time to go Yuck! He was happy to have mine as well though.
The hens are happy again with their yard back, took a morning of hammering, and I added some new sticks to climb and sit on. They ran around the garden for a while but when it started hailing they all flew up to me chuckling away to be let into the henhouse. Apart from hail I don’t think they will have any problems with Swedish winter.
Cheers, tanks a lot Sven(ironic)! I went out for a meeting last night, it didn’t seem that bad. Coming out of the meeting there was a full-blown storm and rain mixed with snow. Putting my daughter to bed the whole second floor was shaking, her bed was shaking. In the morning it looked like someone had chucked a bucket of mud on the windows, salt mixed with dirt. Sven also turned my fence into chopsticks and the hen yard. Luckily the henhouse stood and the chickens were fine but very unhappy to be locked in the house. I let them out for an hour, they didn’t mind the snow or wind and I had an exhausting hen chase trying to get them back in the hen house.
The storm is supposed to go on until tomorrow so unless the wind changes, I’m going to leave all reparations for a day. I noticed the tin-roof on one side of the barn is flapping, if the wind turns it rip it off, so here’s hoping…
Come Christmas a lot of families out on the island meet up and do a big bake together. It’s tradition to start early about five in the morning and bake all day. Me and my mums cousin wasn’t that hardcore, we went for a walk in the mountains and started around noon. We only set a dough with 7.5 kilos of flour plus a small one with rye flour that we made crisp bread of, still good exercise working and kneading the dough. No wonder the old grannies had such great biceps! It is not an easy thing to keep feeding the oven wood for an even heat. Not too hot and not too cool. I must say I’m progressing for every time though, by the time I retire I hope to be an expert. There are lots of recipes for Real Hönö bread, everyone claiming to use the original but we definitely have the original.