Papa’s Swedish Christmas Sleigh Rides

Swedish Torch Lit Sleigh: Copied photo from "Sverige i Bilder" Ivar Haeggström Tryckeri AB  Stockholm 1963



Glistening Christmas winter white,  Sparkling iced snow bright,

Shorten day's light,

Lengthen dark nights,

Torches led the way,  Bundled in our sleigh

Luminous star beams,

Over our path streams,

Crisp crunch, clip clop,  Horses hooves don't stop

Riding, gliding rungs go fast,

Papa's Swedish  sleigh rides past,

Horse drawn Christmas sleigh rides fun,  Cherished memories never done,

Magic stories envelope me,

Cuddled with papa, Happy we both be.

My Swedish Christmas Poem penned,  shares Papa Nils's boyhood memories enjoying a Swedish Christmas sleigh ride to Julotta. Julotta is Sweden's traditional  early morning Christmas service celebrated in the Church of Sweden ( Lutheran) the morning of 24 December.  🙂



Posted January 14, 2017 Carol Elizabeth Skog

Folklore origins amongst the Scandinavian and Germanic people

“Though we think of Fairytales as stories intended for very young children, this is a relatively modern idea. In the oral tradition, magical stories were enjoyed by listeners young and old alike, while literary fairy tales (including most of the tales that are best known today) were published primarily for adult readers until the 19th century.” Terry Windling, “Black Swan, White Raven”

Scandinavian Folk Trö (Beliefs) were shared orally amongst adults, with children sometimes listening. Originally Hans Christian Anderson wrote social commentaries for Adults that were later simplified into Fairy-tales for the Nursery



Vicarious First Travels to Sweden


My first impressions of Sweden were my grandparents lyrical, lilting Swedish accents, pleasant aromas of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger,  nutmeg, almonds, and cloves used in my families baking, delicious tastes of dill cream gravy, tart lingonberry sauce, and various vinegar marinades,  prevalent in Swedish cooking. Accordionist’s and fiddler’s joyous lilting folk music of frolicking melodies about mountains, streams, forests, birds, flowers, and love were regularly played in my home, evoking emotions of endearment.

Happy, my hours spent viewing my papa’s numerous pictorial books of every Swedish province from south to north of colorful landscape photos and their people’s traditional heritage folk dress, their special holiday foods celebrating traditional customs, and features of the three largest cities of Malmö, Göteberg and Stockholm, the capital city. Harkening my senses the seasonal scenes, of springtime woodland’s carpeted with white and blue sippor (anemones), summers sailboats dotted Stockholm’s charming archipelagos,  autumn’s golden leaved birches contrasted the dark evergreen firs and magical winter’s diamond glistened snow encrusted the forests, invited me into each landscape.

These pictorial books gave me immense pleasures, as I magically jumped into the photos on every page, desiring someday to actually travel there and experience my heritage land, her people and meet both my parent’s families, celebrate their traditions and customs together.

Papa often shared his joy filled memorable family time visiting Sweden often as a child, then moving there with his family as a young teen. I vicariously envisioned myself into his stories, pretending I was on the horse drawn, torch lit sleigh traveling in the dark of morn, through the crisp snow to Julotta (early morning Christmas service). My dear papa and his parents, cozy bundled in sheep fur lap robes.

Papa’s Stockholm cousin Anne-Marie visited our family when I was four years old and gifted me with a wooden, colorful Kurbits styled hand painted wooden Dala horse. She gave my brother a dark blue sweater decorated with white stars and red reindeers, I happily got to wear when he outgrew it.  At four, during Anne-Marie’s visit,  convinced I announced, “I would travel to Sweden when I grew up”.

Vicarious Sweden travels constant during my growing up years, were enriched via various heritage sights, sounds, smells, tastes and greatly enhanced via my family’s partaking in Swedish customs and traditions. My heartfelt emotions desired a real travel to my heritage homeland for enjoyment,  fulfillment of knowing, and sharing customs with my Swedish relatives. I most determined would make my magical dreams and travels to Sweden during my childhood, a reality when I grew up.  Published: Carol Elizabeth Skog Dec 29, 2016    

Unique Swedish Easter Customs

My article, "Unique Swedish Easter Customs" featured in "Family Times" Magazine Online, Illinois, April 17, 2014

In Sweden, what do head scarves, birch branches, rosy cheeks, or eggs, long skirts, daffodils or brooms, feathers, copper coffee pots, all have in common with witches, yellow, and bonfires? All form cultural elements of Swedish traditional Easter customs. Certain parts of Swedish Easter celebrations may appear strange. Let us explore how Swedish folklore beliefs and the Christian faith allowed these items combined, creating a completeness of Swedish Easter customs.

Swedish Pagan Vikings converted slowly to Christian faith, 1200 AD. These converted Norsemen blended some accepted ancient ceremonies mingled with folklore beliefs. These customs developed into some Easter celebrations, still enjoyed today. Swedish people tenaciously hold appreciative their festive traditions, some over hundreds of years. Family bonds important, young children inclusive of elderly adults, fest together. Rituals embrace their long enjoyed heritage customs into contemporary Sweden’s Easter.

Harbingers of earth’s awakening, springs’ renewal, refreshed, rejoiced. Pagans gathered winters’ downed forest branches, piling them high into mounds. Igniting tar-mounded bonfires, cleansed all woodland’s debris. Ancient mingling of pagan behaviors and Christian observances blended the Swedish folk custom of the stack’s burning. Folklore believed, the large burning stack, chased, warded evil away from Easter. Bonfires’ burning continues, in modern Western Sweden’s celebration on Easter Eve today.

Swedish folklore believed witches possessed evil powers. In an Uppland, Sweden’s church, a painting from 1480 depicts three witches holding drinking horns, awaiting the devils filling them with a magic drink. During the 1600’s through early 1700’s, villagers identified many Swedish women as witches, as we did in America; well know for our Salem Witch Trials. Swedish Folklore, witches mingled around Easter Christian celebrations.

For the entire week before Easter, formally known as Quiet or Holy week, folk beliefs thought witches evil came astir. Superstitious people guarded, hid their broomsticks-after every use, preventing witches from stealing them. Witches rode out of chimneys on broomsticks high into the night sky, with a black cat, copper coffee pot on Maundy Thursday. Flying higher to Blåkulla, witches partied, danced, three days, with the devil, led by cacophony, chatter, crackles of black magpies. Dancing faster, drove witches dizzy, resulting their doing or saying things backward. Doing or reciting things backward, folk beliefs considered a test, proved one a real witch. Folklore claimed real witches, could appear as they were actually in their homes, when they instead flew off to Blåkulla for the three days proceeding into Easter. Flying back Easter morn, if a woman recited a hymn backward, evidenced her, a real witch.

Since early 1800’s children drew Happy Easter (Glad Påsk) cards for their neighbors. Dressed up in long colorful skirts, cheeks colored with red circles and noses speckled dotted freckles, their tied scarves cover their heads, and shawls cover their shoulders. Riding on their mother’s brooms, they carried their Easter drawn cards and copper coffee pots, portraying Easter Witches (Påskkärringar). Greeted their neighbors with a “Happy Easter” drawing, their neighbors gave them a coin, candy or small cookies, placed in their carried copper coffee pot. Early 1800’s young boys dressed as tamps and followed their påskkärringar dressed sisters for neighbors’ shared goodies. Today Swedish girls still playfully dress up as Easter witches; sometimes-young boys masquerade as witches with their sisters, sometimes as tramps on Maundy Thursday.

On Good Friday people in the 1600’s used birch branches to whip one another, lightly sometimes child to parent, parent to child and servants, reminding them of Christ’s sacrificial sufferings. Uses of birch branches evolved into heralds of earth’s spring awakening, or symbolic spiritual renewal. Know as Easter Twigs (Påskris), people gathered birch branches, brought them inside and placed them in vessels of water, weeks before Easter, decorated vibrant with yellow feathers. Hope and time bursts gentle green leaf shoots from the branches, renewal, rebirth, rejoice. People today may buy branches decorated with colorful feathers at the markets, or cut and decorate their own birch branches with feathers, or color painted eggs and small Easter witch (påskkärring) riding ornaments. (Some people have used forsythia branches for decorations, when birch branches are not available.)

Historically, the last day before Lent only, a special cardamom bun,” Semla”, a piece of marzipan and whipped cream filled,  are relished once, before 40 days of fasting strict diets.  When I attended school in Sweden, they served the adored bun every Tuesday through Lent. Today Swedes eat scrumptious Semlor buns, mid January through Easter.

Lent diets consisted only of hard thin bread, dried fish and potatoes. Allowed again, spring eggs gave abundant enjoyment at Easter. Hard boiled in water with onion slices turned the eggs a golden yellow. Diet is not restrictive today through Lent.

Vibrant yellow uplifts, after a long, dark, cold winter, color of sun’s warm rays, and baby chicks fill springtime anew. Easter morning happily, allows eggs eaten in abundance, round filled yellow sun resembled yolks. Today eggs still eaten and relished, in various forms, found on all Easter meals’ table. Eggs now decorated varieties of colors, purple, yellow, blue, red, most cheerful. A family game, “ägg pickning,” still enjoyed. Two players face each other, holding their hard-boiled eggs, only allowed, “End against end.” Each takes one turn banging their opponent’s egg held still, then the other tries. The person’s egg first cracked is out. Winners with un-cracked eggs can then play against family members, already won their un-cracked egg remaining, against each other until all eggs crack.

Today Easter’s dinner enjoys varieties of herring, eggs, and dilled potatoes. Marinated salmon or lox, Jansson’s temptation (anchovies, onion, sliced potatoes creamed baked) begins, with hard bread and cheeses. Either dilled Salmon or dilled lamb follow, served with spring vegetables. Swedish yellow flowers know as Easter lily’s (Påsk lilje) decorate the table. Americans call these, vibrant yellow daffodils.  

You can decorate your own Swedish Påskris, play “ägg pickning” or make a reservation at a local IKEA to taste test a typical Swedish Easter meal. “Glad Påsk”, Swedish for ”Happy Easter.”

Carol Elizabeth Skog   Copyright 3/28/14

Why Ädventyr = Adventure in my Swedish Genealogical Fairytale

Why I chose to use the spelling Ädventyr in the title.

Why I chose to use  Ädventyr  in my book’s title,

Enchantment Ädventyr,

HCA and I Understand.


Some word’s spelling forms, in Sweden changed over time, as example, the word  Äfventyr.   Äfventyr  is the old 1800’s Swedish spelling, translated to the English word equivalent as Adventure.

Famous poet Viktor Rydberg wrote a Christmas story in 1871, Lille Viggs Äfventyr, often recited on Swedish radio during the 1900’s.

Sweden in early 1900’s, occasionally spelled the word in translation  from English Adventure, as  Ädventyr.

Even through my story goes back in heritage time to the late 1800’s, I choose to use the unusual Swedish form  Ädventyr, for English-speaking people’s ease to recognize the word means Adventure, as the rest of my title is completely written in English.

Modern Swedish spelling is  Äventyr.



“Example of  Ädventyr  used in a book title by Author Lewis Carroll for his story, Alice in Wonderland, translated by Arthur Rackham to Swedish as  Alices ädventyr i sagolandet. The Swedish Publisher, Natur och Kultur, 1946, can be located Toronto Library. To View Book Cover click:   Options

Alices ädventyr i sagolandet /


Lewis Carroll.


Helsingfors : Natur och Kultur, 1946.


145, [1] p., [6 ] leaves of plates : ill. (some col.)”


Explanation of Ädventyr used in my books title

Published January 28, 2016 by Carol Elizabeth Skog