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21 December 2012

Festivities In Dark Swedish Midwinter

Today is the shortest day of the year on the northern hemisphere, when  the sun at noon is at its lowest altitude above the horizon. In Sweden this time is filled with festivities intended to ease the darkness and bring light into our lives despite the cold and long winter nights.

The country with the polar night
In the northern part of Sweden, above the polar circle, the sun does not raise above the horizon for several weeks in December and January, and also the rest of Sweden is very dark. The kalmstrom.com office is situated in the southern part of the country, and here we actually had six hours of daylight today. But as the globe angles away from the sun, the rays do not give any warmth and the light is weak.

Swedish snow landscape

Winter solstice celebrations
Nowadays the winter solstice occurs on December 21 or 22 each year, but with earlier calendars it has been on both 12 December and 24 December. These days have been celebrated in Sweden since ancient times.

Lucia
In modern time Swedes celebrate Saint Lucia in the morning of 13 December, but when the night before the 13th was really the longest one of the year people feared that supernatural powers were ravaging outside and that it was best to stay awake. Young men who wanted to show their courage went from house to house early in the morning, singing and shouting to keep the dark forces at bay.

Midwinter festival

The holiday we now call Christmas has its origin in the Yule festival on the darkest day of the year and was celebrated long before the Nordic countries were Christianized. The harvest and autumn slaughter were over, and people prepared for the dark and cold winter that lay ahead of them. To make life a bit easier they gathered to feast on the fresh meat.

Christmas celebrations
Today I am sorry to say that we celebrate Christmas much the same way as before, by eating too much. Giving presents is another strong tradition, and the Swedes seem to buy more and more every year.



The Kalmstrom clan had a big gathering a week ago, when Peter's eldest son turned 18. (On the image above kalmstrom.com CEO Peter is dressed as Santa Claus, holding the same son seventeen years ago.) Because of this and the bad weather for travelling, some of us have chosen to have a more quiet Christmas this year. This means that Sigge and I will be at home here in Sweden, and Peter and Siret will be in their home in Spain.

Our Indian colleagues are Hindus and do not celebrate Christmas, but the 25 December is a bank holiday so so they will have a chance to spend a bit more time with their families.. The Swedish team members will be online on and off, so should you get problems or have questions one of us should be able to answer e-mails during the holiday too.

The kalmstrom.com team wishes all Blog readers the best of holidays!