Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I recently spent a few days in Stockholm, Sweden and gained a whole new appreciation for why we have deep seated customs involving food and light at this time of year. Unless you live near the equator, the short days of December are quite noticeable. But the darkness in Scandinavia is something else. The sun sets in Stockholm at about 2:30 in the afternoon this time of year. I spent 3 nights there and it was truly disorienting to be in the dark at such an early hour. The biological drive to eat comfort food and go to bed early was very strong. And Stockholm is in the south of the country. I can't imagine how strange it would feel to spend a winter in northern Sweden.
The pagan holiday of Yule, which has morphed into Christmas, "was an indigenous midwinter (winter solstice) festival celebrated by the pagan Scandinavian and other Germanic people." The ancient celebrations included burning the Yule log and feasting on a wild boar. (Ah, so that's where the traditional Christmas ham comes from.) The Scandinavians still wish one another "God Jul" or Good Yuletide this time of year instead of "Merry Christmas." Sweden also celebrates a lovely holiday on December 13th called St. Lucia's Day in which the eldest daughther of the family wears a crown of candles and serves traditional buns and coffee to her family.
Wishing you lots of love and light on this darkest day of the year!