Living with Two Cultures
Travel. Two Cultures. A family that embraces both.
When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we had some “not so traditional” wedding ideas we wanted to include. We came up with a plan that if anyone questioned our choices, we would use culture as a scapegoat. If an American asked why we were including an idea, we would simply say it was a Swedish tradition. If a Swedish person asked, we gave the opposite response, an American tradition. Many times borrowing from two cultures is a gift, and holidays are no exception.
Since Easter is coming up this week, I thought I would share a bit about our Easter traditions.
When I was growing up, Easter morning meant going to church very early. The church service was called Sunrise Service because it was just that, a church service that began around sunrise, 6am. We would roll out of bed, slip on our new Easter clothes, and rush to get to church since my parents often were in charge of the music for the service. If we had time to snag our Easter baskets before the service, we did.
We looked forward to those baskets, including the yearly Easter candy we could always count on. There was always a hollow Chocolate bunny which I loved. I was always a little disappointed though that it was not a solid chocolate bunny. I tried for years to convince my mom that a solid bunny was the better choice, but she did not budge. (And if you are reading this mom, there is still a chance this year;) A mixture of jelly beans and peeps surrounded the bunny, leaving us with a wonderful sugar high that lasted until our heads hit the pillow later that night.
Similar to the United States, early morning Easter services in Sweden are common. Everyone comes wearing their finest. Buying a new dress for Easter seems to know no timezones. However, Swedish people do not start their Easter holiday with a church service. The Swedish Easter celebration starts the day before. Like many other holidays in Sweden, Easter is celebrated on the eve of the holiday. Easter dinner is often a buffet/smorgasbord (smorgasbord is a Swedish word) of goodies such as ham, meatballs, small sausages, cooked potatoes, pickled herring, and many other treats. “And eggs of course” (says my husband), which makes sense. The decorated eggs are actually part of the meal, unlike here, where they often are tossed instead.
Children in Sweden do not celebrate Easter with the Easter bunny or Easter baskets. Their candy comes in just one Easter egg. However, before you start feeling bad for Swedish children and their lack of candy, you can rest assured. That one egg they receive is not a small plastic one. It is more like that of a dinosaur egg filled with goodies. No need to worry. Swedish children do get their fair share of candy.
When we lived in Northern Sweden, Easter for us also meant time outdoors, usually skiing in the woods and a winter picnic/coffee-break. Springtime in Northern Sweden was not sitting in the grass and enjoying the flowers. Rather, It was a day of skiing, of finding a sunny spot, spreading out reindeer skins to sit on, sitting in a t-shirt and enjoying the warmth of the sun, and drinking coffee together with a homemade flat-bread sandwich, enjoyed with family and friends.
In both countries, the Easter holiday means time with family, whether it is eating a meal together, going on an egg hunt, attending a church service, or spending the weekend snowmobiling/skiing in the mountains. This is what our family is looking forward to this weekend. (minus the snowmobiling/skiing in the mountains…we wish we were doing that:)