Fivehundred and fifth åsic- Saint Lucia brings the Light in the Dark!

Lucia-13.12.06.jpg (874×691)

Saint Lucia or Saint Lucy of Syracuse, from round 300 AC, is today’s protagonist in many different settings… The legend says that Saint Lucia was born in Italy in Syracuse. She was of noble family, but since her father had died Saint Lucia and her mother didn’t have any other solution to support themselves but for the young Lucia to marry a rich man. Lucia, however, had already dedicated her heart to God and did everything in her power to prevent a marriage. According to the legend, Lucia’s eyes were very beautiful. She even tore her eyes out and gave them to one of the men who came to propose, because she wanted to discourage the man. When Lucia was buried her eyes had been restored through miracle and that was also why she was honored as a Saint during the Middle Ages (1).

Why would a country like Sweden celebrate a saint from Italy, you may think? In the winter Sweden and the other Nordic countries long for the summer not only because of the cold and snowy winter, but also because of the darkness. Saint Lucia is celebrated every year the 13th of December and in Sweden the tradition is still very important for Christmas celebration. Many of the traditional songs are sung not only the 13th, but also during Christmas.

Lucia processions are organized all over Sweden and throughout all different sectors in the society. Kids celebrate in pre-schools or schools and adults celebrate if they are choir members for instance. Many towns or cities i Sweden have their own Lucia processions and on TV they show the official Lucia show of the year.

As a young girl I was in my first Lucia procession when I was a few years old. As a teenager I started to sing in a girls choir called Bjursåsflickorna. We gave many Lucia concerts every year. One of the years we were asked to perform at a dinner in the Royal Castle in Stockholm. It was very exciting and a memorable moment. Princess Madeleine who is now a Mom herself, was climbing on the chairs and crawling under the table and was quite an active little girl at the time. The very same choir also performed a traditional Lucia concert at Lugnet’s sports stadium in April… We were pretending it was winter, because of some honorable guests from the International Olympic Comittée. One of them was the chairman at that time, Juan Antonio Samaranch. The idea was for us to sing to bring the Olympic Winter Games to Falun… Obviously that was a  mission impossible. Falun lost.

Singing for Lucia in strange places seemed to be one of the habits of this choir. I remember we even sang in the Falu Copper Mine, in almost complete darkness and with the damp vitriolic scent in our noses, helmets on our heads and just a candle to light our way down there. Very exciting and completely unique at that time. I know that later on, many other choirs have sung in the copper mine, too. Nowadays I come across Lucia processions ”by accident”, like for instance today when I visited the shopping mall Kupolen in Borlänge, or when students at school perform. I have also accompanied my own children on different occasions, but for myself, I would say my celebration of the Saint Lucia is found in memory lane…

Before I let you go, let’s just glance at a picture of a typical saffron bun, called ”lussekatt” in Swedish.

#lussekatter, #asaole

But hey… Why invent the wheel??? Please check this link from youtube in order to finally understand this topic!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucy

Annonser

Fourhundred and forty-fourth åsic- Vasaloppet, a Swedish ski race for the entire nation!

#asaole, #vasaloppet, #2017When I watch cultural events on TV from other countries where some of my students come from, such as India, Pakistan,Bangladesh, Irak, Iran or Somalia, I note both similarities and differences. There are places and situations I find exotic and extraordinary, partly because of differences in climate or weather conditions, but also because of living conditions in general. This blogpost gives you an example of what people do for fun in the far north country of Sweden. If you are used to crowded places in markets or fairs, if you commute daily for a job in the City, this is the blogpost for you! This is about being in a crowd… 🙂

#asaole, #vasaloppets-logga

A long tradition of skiing in Sweden has its peak the first Sunday of March each year… I talk about the long distance ski race called Vasaloppet, held in the memory of King Gustav I of Vasa. This is the 93rd time this race is held and this year’s race has approximately 15,000 participants. Ever since 1922, when the first race was held, more and more participants have been added each year. Skiing is a sport with long tradition in Sweden and many famous skiers come from our country.

Being good at skiing is not the only factor for winning a race like Vasaloppet. You also need to have a very strong will, since the distance of 90km is too far to just do ”for fun”. Many of the elite skiers race under five hours, but most of the other participants, need 5-12 hours to get to finish in Mora. The absolutely slowest ski racers are called ”blueberries” blåbär in Swedish, and the connotation for the word is not merely a berry, but a person who is doing something as best as she/he can, but not in a professional way on elite level.

During my lifetime I have always watched Vasaloppet, but only once have I been there on the site. Then I was merely a child and I remember we were in Evertsberg, watching all the ski-runners passing by reaching out for our cups of blueberry soup. I know that through the years the food and drinks have changed to sports beverages and other kinds of food, but traditionally one would have blueberry soup, so why break the tradition? I always stick to blueberry soup…

ekstroms-blabarssoppa_ola#blueberry soup, #vasaloppsfrukost_ola

Vasaloppet is possible to follow on national TV each year. I would say I am worse than the blueberries in the race, since MY tradition each year is very far from ski racing 90 km in the cold winter… Instead my tradition is to WATCH this on TV! 🙂 Every year, many others do just what I do! Last year, 2016, 37% of the Swedish viewers watched Vasaloppet on TV, that is 3 509,000 people! Mind there are only approximately ten million people in Sweden… An ordinary Vasaloppet-Sunday, I would watch the start, then I would eat blueberry soup while listening to all the many interviews with people involved in the race, both those who race to win and those who definitely just do it for fun …

I am always amazed that people volunteer to actually ski this far! 90 km is way too far to ME anyway! Another thing I find interesting is the fact that it is very crowded in the ski-tracks. I think of situations that these people would avoid during working hours. They would try very hard to commute earlier than the crowd, choose alternative routes to avoid long backed-up lanes on their way to the city of Stockholm, but on their day off of work, they line up for skiing, in a huge crowd with 15,000 skiers…

#vasaloppet, #starten 2017, #asaole#vasaloppet, #starten 2017, #asaole

There are participants from other parts of the world, although most of the skiers are Swedish, Norwegian or Finnish. The little town of Mora, where the ski runners finally reach their goal has a ”sister” in the USA. Mora in Minnesota is far away, but just like many other American cities the name has its origin somewhere else in the world. Are you from Mora in the USA? Maybe you will be the next year’s winner? 😉

I cannot help but admire them! First for skiing this far at all, secondly for doing so early in the morning on a Sunday, thirdly for skiing in such a crowd, and last but not least for skiing such a long time… Altogether it’s amazing!

Sources: 

http://www.vasaloppet.se

http://www.ci.mora.mn.us/

Four hundred and seventh åsic- Saint Lucia brings the Light in the Dark!

Lucia-13.12.06.jpg (874×691)

Saint Lucia or Saint Lucy of Syracuse, from round 300 AC, is today’s protagonist in many different settings… The legend says that Saint Lucia was born in Italy in Syracuse. She was of noble family, but since her father had died Saint Lucia and her mother didn’t have any other solution to support themselves but for the young Lucia to marry a rich man. Lucia, however, had already dedicated her heart to God and did everything in her power to prevent a marriage. According to the legend, Lucia’s eyes were very beautiful. She even tore her eyes out and gave them to one of the men who came to propose, because she wanted to discourage the man. When Lucia was buried her eyes had been restored through miracle and that was also why she was honored as a Saint during the Middle Ages (1).

Why would a country like Sweden celebrate a saint from Italy, you may think? In the winter Sweden and the other Nordic countries long for the summer not only because of the cold and snowy winter, but also because of the darkness. Saint Lucia is celebrated every year the 13th of December and in Sweden the tradition is still very important for Christmas celebration. Many of the traditional songs are sung not only the 13th, but also during Christmas.

Lucia processions are organized all over Sweden and throughout all different sectors in the society. Kids celebrate in pre-schools or schools and adults celebrate if they are choir members for instance. Many towns or cities i Sweden have their own Lucia processions and on TV they show the official Lucia show of the year.

As a young girl I was in my first Lucia procession when I was a few years old. As a teenager I started to sing in a girls choir called Bjursåsflickorna. We gave many Lucia concerts every year. One of the years we were asked to perform at a dinner in the Royal Castle in Stockholm. It was very exciting and a memorable moment. Princess Madeleine who is now a Mom herself, was climbing on the chairs and crawling under the table and was quite an active little girl at the time. The very same choir also performed a traditional Lucia concert at Lugnet’s sports stadium in April… We were pretending it was winter, because of some honorable guests from the International Olympic Comittée. One of them was the chairman at that time, Juan Antonio Samaranch. The idea was for us to sing to bring the Olympic Winter Games to Falun… Obviously that was a  mission impossible. Falun lost.

Singing for Lucia in strange places seemed to be one of the habits of this choir. I remember we even sang in the Falu Copper Mine, in almost complete darkness and with the damp vitriolic scent in our noses, helmets on our heads and just a candle to light our way down there. Very exciting and completely unique at that time. I know that later on, many other choirs have sung in the copper mine, too. Nowadays I come across Lucia processions ”by accident”, like for instance today when I visited the shopping mall Kupolen in Borlänge, or when students at school perform. I have also accompanied my own children on different occasions, but for myself, I would say my celebration of the Saint Lucia is found in memory lane…

Before I let you go, let’s just glance at a picture of a typical saffron bun, called ”lussekatt” in Swedish.#lussekatter, #asaole

But hey… Why invent the wheel??? Please check this link from youtube in order to finally understand this topic!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucy

The three hundred and ninetyfirst åsic- To help students understand and find connections is what teaching’s all about!

A recycled blogpost from my visit in Pitman New Jersey 2014!

For two weeks I have had the wonderful opportunity to be among students and teachers at #Pitman Middle School in #New Jersey, #USA. I have been monitoring instruction in many different classes and seen many very good examples of teaching. My main focus has been ESL-teaching and I have seen examples of that both in primary schools and in adult classes of different kinds. Some of the adult students were part of a program for parents and were taught in classes with students from many different countries. They were preparing for a test and if they’d pass the test that would help them qualify for being American citizens. Other adults I met learned language for their own good, so to speak. They had different private reasons for taking the course and were taught in a smaller group within a local college. In every one of these differents setting and with every single teacher I have noticed high quality and a good knowledge both in what an ESL student needs and also teaching and instruction in general. When in class, I can see that many of the teachers have the same idea as I have, i.e to teach through themes or concepts rather than details. Today, since it is Halloween here, I have noticed that younger kids in primary schools here learn about the local legend #The New Jersey Devil. According to the legend he was the thirteenth child of a worn out woman who didn’t want her child. She cursed him and said ”to the devil with him!” and since then he is haunting #the Pine Barrens in New Jersey. The story is told this day since this is his birthday.

All teachers and students seem very into the idea of Halloween, even if not all schools celebrate with costumes and dresses. One of the classrooms I visited today, a classroom where Spanish is the main subject, focused on the differences between Halloween and the Mexican tradition for Dia de las Muertas  (the Day of  the Dead). The American kids get a chance to comment on what is similar or different when they compare these two holidays. The teacher help them along the way and try to get them to precise what they mean. She asks questions like ”How do you mean?”  ”What would you have thought if a loved one came back to life?” The point for the teacher is to explain that the Mexican Holiday is not at all scary or horrific, but rather a nice way of remembering your loved ones who passed away. The teacher then connects to the American people’s connections to the date 9/11 and the kids all get a chance to share the stories their parents have told them about 9/11. The idea is to show the kids that by remembering and talking about sad or scary memories, those memories get a little easier to talk about each time. Then she wraps it all up by saying THAT is what the Mexicans do when they celebrate THEIR holiday. They stick to the nice memories of a person and cherish those memories in a more happy manner, although they are dressed or disguised into skeletons etc. I was very happy to get the chance to see this lovely explanation of what the different festivities are all about. To help students understand and find connections is what teaching’s all about! I have written in Swedish about the importance of this in my tenth åsic and in my seventyeighth åsic. Thank You and Farewell #Pitman Middle School

Those of you who read Swedish are of course welcome to read other posts as well. You will find those by clicking ”På svenska” to the left on http://www.asaole.com.

For my English readers more blogposts are found by clicking ”In English” to the left on http://www.asaole.com

The three hundred and ninetieth åsic- My New Favourite Tree

A recycled blogpost from my visit in Pitman New Jersey 2014!Quercus_rubra_1.jpg (582×671)

For a couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to experience a very mild and nice autumn here in Pitman, NJ. One of the days we had +28C which is not at all like the temperature for October in Sweden. In my 71st åsic(#Sjuttioförsta åseriet), I wrote about the maples in Sweden and how I used to collect the colourful leaves in the autumn. I have always loved trees and since I live in a part of Sweden where forests are a part of the nice scenery, I always find a walk in the forest very soothing if I need to relax or find new energy. I have walked along nice streets here in Pitman, where mainly tall maples and oaks give gardens their share of fallen leaves. One kind of the tree was unfamiliar to me, but I could tell from what it looked like that it had to be a maple or an oak, so I picked up a leaf and brought it with me to #Pitman Middle School, where I asked everyone I met: ”Is this a maple or an oak?”. Most people said: ”I don’t know but I think it is…” and then two people very quickly said: ”It’s an oak, no doubt!” Now I KNOW it is an oak, since I have done what most people do nowadays… I googled it… It turned out to be a red oak.

The fallen red oak leaves has the same SOUND as the fallen Swedish maple leaves when you walk through them… The other day I took a shortcut home and ended up very far away from home in an empty yard…learning that just as ”genvägar är senvägar” , shortcuts tend to be longcuts…

One good thing by taking the ”shortcut” was that I had to walk on a narrow path in a little forest, passing a railroad to get back home. The fallen leaves in a thick layer sounded like the maple leaves from my childhood and around me both squirrels and chipmunks ran about. I knew I was very close to houses, but the trees and animals made me fly away in thoughts for a while. The beauty of coloured leaves is still the same, no matter where I am. It gives me a feeling of gratefulness to see all the colours, hear the dry sound of the leaves as I walk through them. The sunrays hardly pass through to the ground and there are merely dark soil and old leaves for the squirrels to run about in. In its lack of colours, the ground already seems ready to meet the winter. In my lack of inner compass, I also seemed ready to meet the winter… Luckily I made a correct guess and soon found my way back to Broadway again…

The three hundred and eighty-ninth åsic- From Påskkärring to Tomten in Twenty Minutes!

A recycled blogpost from my visit in Pitman New Jersey 2014!

I have had another interesting day in Pitman Middle School busy with interaction with students and teachers. Today’s topic was a bit different from the other days, since one of the students wanted to know how we celebrated Halloween. I quickly commented on that, but then I shared photos of the tradition from Easter Thursday which is more like the American ”trick or treat” than anything else in our tradition. Kids dress out as witches, but not EVIL witches. They are supposed to be more CUTE than evil or ugly. A påskkärring is supposed to be a witch soon going off to ”Blåkulla” on her broomstick. The idea for the kids is to draw or write nice cards saying ”Happy Easter” and then walk from door to door with these greetings. If they are lucky people give them a little treat in return, but there is NO tricking…just the treat… They will keep the collected treats either in an old coffeepot or in a basket.

inbjudning-8-300x232.jpg (300×232)

I then got the question whether there were any other Holidays I would like to mention. I picked Midsummer, since that may be interesting if you haven’t experienced it. First of all, Midsummer is a fantastic time of the year anywhere in Sweden, thanks to the Nordic light, but in the Northern part of Sweden the sun doesn’t set at all for a couple of days, which gives your summer’s night a magic touch. Midsummer can be celebrated in many ways, but traditionally we would gather to raise a maypole covered with leaves and flowers and then dance round the maypole, both old and young. One of the most popular song has very easy lyrics and we all sang it as kids. It is called ”Små grodorna” which means ”The little frogs”.

It is said about Midsummer that you dream of your spouse to be if you gather seven flowers and jump over seven fences. But you have to be quiet if you don’t want to break the spell! You pick the flowers, put them under your pillow and in your dream you will meet the very person who will be your husband or wife. 

torsdag+011.jpg (320×240)

Suddenly someone wanted to know whether it was true that our Santa Claus doesn’t look quite like the American… so then we talked for a while about Tomten and the tradition of celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve rather than  on Christmas Day.

20772452-origpic-bc1600.png (393×381)

I was happy to have a computer to use to show pictures and talk about different details and finally I shared what TV-show most families watch on Christmas Eve. Kalle Ankas julafton… Donald Duck!

Glad påsk! (= Happy Easter)

Glad midsommar! (= Happy Midsummer’s Eve!)

God Jul! (=Merry Christmas)

The three hundred and eightyseventh åsic- A light in the dark

#asaole, asa-och-zombie-i-smithsville

A recycled blogpost from my visit in Pitman New Jersey 2014!

Today I have had a wonderful day with my friends in Smithville. I had lots of time to marvel over the celebration of Halloween, that in a way already started with a planned ”Zombie Parade” that would take place this evening. People were dressed out as zombies and it was very interesting to note that there was no difference in age. Old or young didn’t seem to matter…

I am brought up with the thought of All Saints Day as a serious day when one go to the graveyard and put candles there to show respect for the dead. I have also many years sang in church in different choirs. The music was always very religious and filled with sorrow. Last year my daughters and I took a late walk to the graveyard when it was pitch dark outside. The darkness and the many nice lanterns made our walk exciting and solemn at the same time as it was creating a bonding that served as a platform for deep thoughts about life. We shared our viewpoints of what will happen after death and also what people we missed most of all when they had passed away. The moment in the graveyard was very far from my experience today.

I can’t wait to see what Friday will bring. Then I’m told that many kids in the neighbourhood will come to ask ”Trick or Treat”. I’m excited about it, but at the same time surprised at the fact that the Americans seem to go ”all in” for their celebration of Halloween. I met some of the ”walking dead” today and this couple made an impact on me, since they were no ten-year-olds. Scary!

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