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 thirty-fifth åsic- As cold as in ”To Build a Fire”, by Jack London? #Londonfrossa

Today we had round -20C in my town. The crisp air and the cold did not bother me, since I had planned my walk in the forest thoroughly and was dressed in warm winter clothes.

Many years ago I read the wonderful short story To Build a Fire by Jack London. If you haven’t read it, then DO! It is one of the best short stories I have ever read. Here’s a link to the full text:

To Build a Fire by Jack London

I learned from reading the story long ago that whatever we think we accomplish, we never win a competition with Nature! Jack London tells his story from the point of view of a man who decides to leave the main trail and seek another way, thinking maybe it will be a shortcut… London lets us know that the protagonist is new in the area. He has never spent a winter in Yukon Territory before. Then the author adds:

”The trouble with him was that he was without imagination.”

That is all information we need, really… We understand that he will not be fully prepared for what he will experience in this unfriendly and cold whiteness. When London describes the extreme cold, we understand the danger, but does the man?

”He knew that at fifty below spittle crackled on the snow, but this spittle had crackled in the air.”

The man does realize that it has to be below fifty, but that doesn’t lead him into the conclusion that he will not manage in this weather for long. Throughout the story several situations point out how unaware the man seems to be of the hidden dangers in the surrounding landscape. The man chews tobacco and his beard is filled with ice and along the telling of the story we notice how the beard is slowly built up like an ice-muzzle. If he will take a pause, he will not be able to eat or drink…

London describes many aspects of the Yukon winter that this man is not familiar with and as he paints the icecold scenario the reader slowly comes to the insight that this will lead to a disaster of some sort. The protagonist is followed by a dog, a native husky that knows enough of this weather as to wait for the man to soon build a fire… but the man does not stop to build a fire… As the dog once breaks through and wets his forelegs when being forced by the man to cross over at a hidden creek, the man first admires the dog’s instinct to quickly get rid of the wet and ice, then he foolishly removes his own gloves to help the dog…unaware of the risk for his own sake. His fingers instantly turn numb and that is in a way the beginning of the end…

When I took a walk today, I was taking one single step aside of the track, because I was searching for a better angle for my photo… Afterwards, my boots were filled with snow that first melted for a while, then re-froze and from being perfectly comfortable with my situation I was now slowly getting more and more cold. I was however lucky to know I was only fifteen minutes from home. I didn’t even need to think of building a fire… Instead I went indoors, thinking I was lucky who lived in the middle of a town and not in Yukon Territory, but also remembering this wonderful short story by Jack London with warmth. What a great piece of literature that is!

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

Twohundred and Sixteenth Asic- Snowzilla, Milk and Cookies!

The major storm Snowzilla has now started its journey through the twenty states on the east coast of the USA… It was in a way very interesting to watch TV from a completely empty Washington DC where the Swedish TV reporter seemed all alone in the streets, sharing his report with us… We have snow every winter, but according to the TV reporter from Swedish TV4, some of the states suffering from Snowzilla, hardly get any snow an ordinary winter and may have difficulties getting rid of it, once the storm has passed.

I have a few friends in the USA. They have one thing in common… They all share stories about what one would do if a storm of any kind is predicted… Obviously everyone go to the store, get loads of food in general, but milk and cookies in particular, in order not to ”starve”during the storm… I’m sure we go to the store, too, but I also notice that this desperate ”I HAVE to go to the store” doesn’t seem to be as common here as over there… Maybe we have a more ”longterm” idea for our grocery shopping than Americans do? Milk and cookies??? Meat and potatoes would be more of the Swedish way in that case… 😉

From my heart, I hope you all wake up to a wonderful white world where very little is damaged or ruined by the storm and the only remaining issue is the layer of beautiful snow everywhere…  I also hope you have your cameras ready to take photos, to share with the rest of us and with your grandchildren one day! Winter is an amazing season. Quiet, white and cold! Well… I understand the very storm isn’t quiet!!! Snowzilla is probably very loud! Light a candle and listen to her! It might be the storm of your life! Enjoy!!!

b088e-stearinljus-bmp

 

For those of you who would like to know the sound of Swedish… and also follow the coverage in our biggest national Newspaper regarding the storm ”Jonas” I have now added a newspaper clip with a movie.  It’s Sunday evening; and a Swedish reporter doing his job interviewing people in NYC. According to the reporter, the film is from Saturday morning:

Peter Kadhammar interview’s NYC citizens

Twohundred and eleventh asic- As cold as in ”To Build a Fire”, by Jack London?

Today we had round -20C in my town. The crisp air and the cold did not bother me, since I had planned my walk in the forest thoroughly and was dressed in warm winter clothes.

Many years ago I read the wonderful short story To Build a Fire by Jack London. If you haven’t read it, then DO! It is one of the best short stories I have ever read. Here’s a link to the full text:

To Build a Fire by Jack London

I learned from reading the story long ago that whatever we think we accomplish, we never win a competition with Nature! Jack London tells his story from the point of view of a man who decides to leave the main trail and seek another way, thinking maybe it will be a shortcut… London lets us know that the protagonist is new in the area. He has never spent a winter in Yukon Territory before. Then the author adds:

”The trouble with him was that he was without imagination.”

That is all information we need, really… We understand that he will not be fully prepared for what he will experience in this unfriendly and cold whiteness. When London describes the extreme cold, we understand the danger, but does the man?

”He knew that at fifty below spittle crackled on the snow, but this spittle had crackled in the air.”

The man does realize that it has to be below fifty, but that doesn’t lead him into the conclusion that he will not manage in this weather for long. Throughout the story several situations point out how unaware the man seems to be of the hidden dangers in the surrounding landscape. The man chews tobacco and his beard is filled with ice and along the telling of the story we notice how the beard is slowly built up like an ice-muzzle. If he will take a pause, he will not be able to eat or drink…

London describes many aspects of the Yukon winter that this man is not familiar with and as he paints the icecold scenario the reader slowly comes to the insight that this will lead to a disaster of some sort. The protagonist is followed by a dog, a native husky that knows enough of this weather as to wait for the man to soon build a fire… but the man does not stop to build a fire… As the dog once breaks through and wets his forelegs when being forced by the man to cross over at a hidden creek, the man first admires the dog’s instinct to quickly get rid of the wet and ice, then he foolishly removes his own gloves to help the dog…unaware of the risk for his own sake. His fingers instantly turn numb and that is in a way the beginning of the end…

When I took a walk today, I was taking one single step aside of the track, because I was searching for a better angle for my photo… Afterwards, my boots were filled with snow that first melted for a while, then re-froze and from being perfectly comfortable with my situation I was now slowly getting more and more cold. I was however lucky to know I was only fifteen minutes from home. I didn’t even need to think of building a fire… Instead I went indoors, thinking I was lucky who lived in the middle of a town and not in Yukon Territory, but also remembering this wonderful short story by Jack London with warmth. What a great piece of literature that is!

One hundred and fiftyfirst åsic- February at its best?

Being a teacher means planning ahead of time and trying to find as interesting topics as possible for one’s students. I try to combine both methods and genres with something that students may find useful for the moment. One such topic that I keep working with every year in January and February is winter.

Cherry Covered in Winter Coat

My adult students may sometimes come from countries near ours, such as the Baltic countries or maybe Germany or the UK, but most of them don’t. Instead they started their lives in a country far away from Sweden, where there is no snow and where the Swedish winter may seem both everlasting, too cold to be outdoors in, dark and difficult to deal with. I try to find texts that are very different. There are lyrics from songs on winter topics, extracts from books, short stories, movies, chunks of news, weather reports as well as newspaper articles of different kinds.

Does it matter what whether it is outdoors to talk about winter? I’d say I have been lucky this year, since the weather has been very varied. I had the opportunity to talk about extremely cold weather and the words connecting to glistering snow, as well as the boring cloudy skies in a slushy morning when the ploughmen have not yet driven by… I have also had the chance to share with my students some of the typical winter songs or words one may need to label typical winter activites.

It doesn’t matter what the weather is like. The more varied it gets, the better for my purpose at school! Using here and now as a resource for teaching makes learning more hands-on for students. Students find their learning meaningful if they can use their new vocabulary already on their way home from school. Who wouldn’t? Learning things that are supposed to be put away for later, tend to be boring very quickly, whereas useful phrases and vocabulary for instant use makes the effort worth while.


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Onehundred and twentyfifth 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