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