The last post was about the tomte. This famous Swedish poem seen below is called Tomten by Viktor Rydberg. It was first published in 1881. I found an English translation by Steven Michelsen. (If you live in America or Canada and want to purchase tomten items you can check out his web-store. He also sells a tomten poster.) Below you will find a video of the poem being read in Swedish.
Tomten have come. Sweden has their own tradition of a being that brings gifts. In Swedish they are called tomte or tomten. Tomte comes from the word tomt which is a building lot or a homestead. Tomten are considered protectors of the homestead, farm animals, children, and the farm buildings. They are often described as being the size of a child but appearing as old men with beards. The tomte do not come through the chimney as Santa Clause does but enter through the front door bearing gifts. To please the tomte you must leave him a bowl of porridge with a pad of butter at Christmas eve.
Our tomte arrived last Thursday. Usually when I come home for lunch I let Maggie and Seth out on the balcony where they hang out until I leave. Last Thursday when I opened the door to the balcony Maggie ran to the door and stopped right outside of the door. She crouched down, her fur stood up and she began to hiss. She than backed away slowly from the door and towards the bedrooms. By Friday she determined the tomte was in the kitchen. She still is afraid to go in the kitchen. She was sure the tomte was hiding under the fridge or behind the kitchen door. Saturday night she determined the tomte was under our bed.
When Mona brought in the large tomte decoration (pictured above) into the house Friday night maggie had a complete meltdown. She has since decided it is ok to walk past him. But for at least a day she would not pass him and thus avoided the living room and kitchen. She is slowly calming down and making friends with the large tomte decoration. She has yet to make friends with the small tomte decoration (pictured to the left). Now I am sure that any number of logical reasons can be found for Maggie’s breakdown but I like the mythological.
I friday ny gallerian open i Kristianstad. Det fanns en fest att fira. Många guld, svarta och vita ballonger var befriat ochså guld konfetti.
Last friday (phase one of) a new mall opened in Kristianstad. There was a party to celebrate. Many gold, black and white balloons were released, also gold confetti.
Kristianstad is a relatively small town that the mall opening was a big deal. There was enough people wanted to check out the new mall that they had to limit the amount of people entering the mall. It was more exciting for me to see all the people than it was the new mall. I enjoy watching people. Watching people here is Sweden is even more enjoyable because I am also trying to better understand Swedish culture.
The first floor of the mall had a really interesting wood floor. It looked like they had cut a few inches off the ends off of 2×4 lumber to use as flooring. It is something I have never seen before. The last couple of pictures are of the floor. When I think of wood floors I think of the planks that you can buy in the store. There was not pre-made wooden planks to use for flooring in the past and people used what was available. Seeing the wood floor in the mall got me to thinking that there is so many different ways that wood can be used for flooring and we are only limited by our imagination. In the mall my favorite part was the wooden floor in the mall.
In 1984 a deposit system for cans was launched and in 1994 for plastic bottles as a way to deal with little. In 2006 it became required of all importers and bottlers to comply with the deposit system. Each bottle’s or can’s bar code is recorded for tracking purposes. When a store receives the bottles or the cans they pay the PANT to Returpack. When you or I buy a beverage we pay the PANT to the the store.
So how is trash and recycling handled here in Sweden? That question has now been put to me a couple of time from Americans since I moved here. When I first arrived it all seemed rather confusing which is why I have waited so long to do this post. I would often remark that you need a P.H.D. in order to know how to deal with the trash. At first I had to ask about every thing. For the most part now I can successfully navigate around what to do with each piece of trash.
Each house hold probably has their own system but the trash is separated. We separate the trash into six different categories as follows, Burnable, food waste, plastic, newspaper, pant, and all others including other paper, batteries, lightbulbs metal etc. Burnables is really anything that does not fit into a recyclable category. In order to not make this a long post and still provide information I am going to do a couple of blog post about trash and recycling. Today I will focus on food waste.
All food waste is put into a small paper bag. In the housing complex where I currently live there is a large palate of paper bags for the residents to use. I have also seen the paper bags for sale at the grocery stores. If you clean out your fridge the food that you are throwing out goes into the paper bag. Or the scrap food left over on your plate after dinner also go into the paper bag. Also things like coffee grounds are placed in the paper bag. When the paper bag is full it goes into a special trash can for food waste. The waste food is taken to the biofuel plant where it is turned into biofuel. The biofuel is then used to power the electric/heating plant or to be used as a fuel for the public transportation busses. There is an article in the New York Times specifically about Kristianstad titled Using Waste, Swedish City Cuts Its Fossil Fuel Use. The Youtube video embedded below goes into greater detail about the turning the waste into biofuel.
According to Wired Sweden only sends four percent of its trash to landfills because of the efficiency of recycling. They have managed to turn what once once an expensive problem and still is for many parts of the world into a creative solution to both protect the environment and and continue to provide services to their residents. In a Wikipedia article on food waste a study referred to estimated that in North America that we waste 650 pounds (295 kg) of food per person per year. Food waste thrown into landfills adds methane to the atmosphere.
Just imagine if all food waste in the United States was turned into biofuel and converted into electricity? How many coal power plants could be eliminated? The world of a greener future is before us if only our governments make that commitment to finance and build the infrastructure needed to support this greener alternative. The city of Kristianstad has already made that commitment. Stay tuned for more about trash and recycling.
Yesterday was Vanim’s birthday party. It was a very traditional Swedish birthday party. The party started at 5:00 p.m. so all the guest arrived by 5. In Sweden being on time is important. It is considered rude to show up late. I have been living in a culture, at least in Utah, where people are often late. It is not uncommon when having a party to have the majority of the guest show up an hour or later after the party starts. Since moving to Sweden I better understand why Vanim is so insistent about arrive on time.
The presents are open as the guest arrive. It is done in a manner that I would describe as rather humble in comparison to what I am accustom to. Neither the giver nor the receiver make a big deal about the gift. The exchange of words would be equivalent to thank you from the receiver of the gift and it is not a big deal from the giver of the gift. To me this fits very well into the Swedish character not to make a big deal over thing or to be better than others.
Dinner was served shortly after all the guests arrived. For dinner we had köttfärsrulle and salad. köttfärsrulle is basically seasoned hamburger rolled up in a basic pancake made of eggs, butter, milk and a few other ingredients. If you click on the link it will take you to one of many recipes. It is in Swedish but with the help of Google Translate you should be able to make sense of it. It was a delicious meal made by Mona, Vanim’s mother. My Swedish is improving but not enough to understand a recipe yet.
The first birthday party I went to smörgåstårta or sandwich cake was served for dinner. The Huffington Post had this to say about Swedish sandwich cake: “At first, a sandwich cake looks like a regular cake, but after closer inspection you realixe that it’s not garnished with frosting, but smoked salmon, shrimp and crudite. Reading through a recipe reveals that the frosting is not buttercream, but a mixture of creamsheese, mayonnaise and sour cream.” The article also has picture of different sandwich cakes.
After dinner it is followed by cake and coffee. The Swedes love their coffee. I can not emphasize that enough, THEY LOVE THEIR COFFEE! Vanim made a basic three layer gluten free cake he dyed black with a pink cream cheese berry frosting. I stayed out of the kitchen when he made the cake since I tend to be a bossy back seat cook. He did a great job without me.
A birthday party is just a birthday party, celebrating someones life. There was not major difference between an American birthday parties that I am familiar with and a Swedish birthday parties of which I have only been to three. The small differences though show the variances in the Swedish culture and the American culture. As I better understand the Swedish culture it makes it easier for me to not make social mistakes by accident.
Happy Birthday Vanim!!!!!!!!!
Sunday was the elections for the local parish council, diocese council and general synod council that direct the affairs of the Swedish church. From the Swedish Church web site “Each of the thirteen dioceses are led by a bishop closely working together with a democratically elected diocesan board. The Archbishop of Uppsala represents the Church of Sweden on a national an international level for the Bishops’ meeting.” According to an article on The Local (Swedish news in English) three of the political parties participated in the elections. In order to vote in the elections you need to be a member of the Church of Sweden, be at least 16 and living in Sweden.
Once you get past the language differences going shopping at a grocery store in Sweden is not too different then ones in America though there are some differences. This is not a comprehensive list of all the differences but it is some of the ones that stick out to me.
The price listed is the price you pay. There is a tax that is paid but that is part of the price listed. The tax is called moms which is an abbreviation for Mervärdesskatt which stands for value added tax. In Swedish they have lots of words that in English become more than one word. In this case that literal translation is more value tax. The current mervärdesskatt in Sweden is 25 percent. When you look at the prices in the picture on the left you need to take into account that $1 U.S. dollar is worth about 6.5kr (Swedish Kronas). Also the vegetables are normally sold by the kilogram with is equal to about 2.2 pounds. So the tomatoes (tomat) in the bottom right corner of the picture that are selling for 49,90 a kilogram would be cost about $3.45 a pound (that is assuming I did my math correctly)
There are two different methods for self check out. The first one is similar to American stores where you scan your items at the register. The other way is to pick up a scanner at the front of the store. You can see what a typical scanner looks like in the picture on the left. In order to have the hand held self scanner you have to have a store card. You have to have the store card in order to get the savings I believe which is like grocery stores in the U.S. as well. There is a bank of scanners at the front of the store. You run your card through the reader and one of the scanners lights up. As you buy something you scan it. You can see exactly you have spend as it keeps a running total at the bottom of the screen.