I wish You all a Good Yule!

Thisis one of the presents I gor from Joyce! It is so beautiful!

This is one of the presents I gor from Joyce! It is so beautiful!

I’m writing this on the evening before Christmas eve, or Julafton as we say in Swedish. I have the tv on and they have a so-called uppesittarkväll on the two biggest networks (not together of course 🙂 ). There’s no good translation for uppesittarkväll but it means they will send a show from the same studios all evening in to the night. I have the PBS channel (TV 1) on and that is actually the most popular network here in Sweden. They cook christmas food from different parts of the world but I think they cook some Swedish ones too. Artists sing popular Christmas songs. There are a few really good artists but some are what I call b-artists, from Sweden Idol and similar shows. They try hard but are sort of out of tune most of the time 🙂 The host is jolly and laughs a lot, all the time actually 🙂 There’s also a man showing fun ways to for instance dry a mobile phone that fell in to water and other odd ideas and tricks 🙂

 

I had to take several photos to be able to show what was packed in that big package :-)

I had to take several photos to be able to show what was packed in that big package 🙂 Cookies and candy, life is good 🙂

I must admit that I've already tried the Bog Ftogs :-) I mean, that name sort of demands to be tested first since I live just beside this huge bog. They are delicious bythe way :-)

I must admit that I’ve already tried the Bog Frogs 🙂 I mean, that name sort of demands to be tested first since I live just beside this huge bog. They are delicious by the way 🙂 New tea varieties too, can never have to much of that.

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I’ll have lost of nice evenings with hot chocolate.

 

 

Christmas eve is the big day here in Sweden but I’ve never understood why we have it on Christmas even when almost all others have Christmas day as the big one. There are a few traditions that is a bit more important than others this day, at 3pm Sweden stops because we’re all watching Donald Duck and his friends celebrates Christmas. We have seen the almost exactly same program for over 55 years now. They show short films or snippets from big films and few have anything to do with Christmas to be honest 🙂 When ever they try to show a new film or snippet and removes one of the old ones all hell break loose here. One year they decided to remove Ferdinand the Bull and suddenly someone threatened to put a bomb in the house of Swedish Television 🙂 

 

Is there anything better than a bowl of hot soup when the cold weather sets in, which it will already tomorrow they say.

Is there anything better than a bowl of hot soup when the cold weather sets in, which it will already tomorrow they say.

The dogs love their present! I haven't given the cats their yet, they are out hunting in the sunshine (which will be gone shortly, don't need to see any predictions to understand that :-)

The dogs love their present! I haven’t given the cats their yet, they are out hunting in the sunshine (which will be gone shortly, don’t need to see any predictions to understand that 🙂

I also got this Hex Sign. This one is the Tree of life and it looks just like old traditional <<<<<<<<kurbits art here in Sweden!  and I do like kurbits art.

I also got this Hex Sign. This one is the Tree of life and it looks just like old traditional kurbits art here in Sweden and I do like kurbits art! Thank You Joyce!

 

Most people eat after Disney and we have the same food on our tables no matter what holiday it might be 🙂 but the ham at Christmas is changed to something with eggs at Easter and we have neither on Midsummer which is almost as big as Christmas is here. We tend to have a Christmas smorgasbord, called Julbord, where we place all the food and everyone can pick as much or as little on so desire. The ham is the most important thing but no Julbord without zillion different kinds of pickled herring. I can’t for my life understand how anyone actually can eat it and say it’s delicious because it’s just nasty. Then we have salmon, usually pickled or cold smoked and I eat neither but I do eat warm smoked if they have it. Meatballs, prince sausages, beetroot salad and red cabbage usually stand beside each other making lots of people confused since they don’t always like both 🙂 then we have the regional dishes like here where they often have baked brown beans. For dessert there’s usually risalamande or as we call it ris à la Malta. It’s rice pudding mixed with lots of whipped cream, vanilla sugar and berries and lately I have seen apple pie too with either custard or ice cream.

 

I also got a package from Dianna in Canada! With Candian coffee and Canadian tea and also some history behind them. >It'll be very interesting to try both :-) I also got a favorite cookie package of mine, Maple Leaf cookies :-) They are a bit dangerous because they just taste better the more one eat :-) :-)  Thank You Dianna!

I also got a package from Dianna in Canada! With Canadian coffee and Canadian tea and also some history behind them. It’ll be very interesting to try both 🙂 I also got a favorite cookie package of mine, Maple Leaf cookies 🙂 They are a bit dangerous because they just taste better the more one eat 🙂 🙂  The card beside show two puppies but the flash stopped You from seeing that :-)Thank You Dianna!

A calf was born on Christmas Eve. This one was not even an hour old when I took this photo and it was born just outside my cottage.

A calf was born on Christmas Eve. This one was not even an hour old when I took this photo and it was born just outside my cottage.

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We don’t have Santa Claus here, we have the Jultomte, Yule Gnome. He looks very much like Santa now days but it was different in the beginning. Before the Yule Gnome however we had the Yule Goat or Yule Buck as we say in Swedish. This goat has its origin way back, most likely from our old pagan past. It is supposed to be one of Thor’s immortal goats that pulled his carriage when he flew up in the sky. A man dressed up like a goat, usually a head made from straw and a goat skin over his shoulders and was the one bringing the presents, we call them julklappar (Yule knocks) because in the beginning it was meant that the giver should stay unknown so they just knocked on the door, opened it up and tossed in the present and then ran away. Good thing they didn’t have good locks back then 🙂 Later on the gnome took over that job but the goat still continued to stay close to the presents because he was the one pulling the carriage or sled with the packages. The poor goat was once again degraded when the horse too his place but we still have him in our homes as straw goats. They also build the worlds biggest straw goat in the city Gävle and almost every year someone burns it down 🙂 🙂 🙂 Some say it’s a shame but to be honest, no one would know it ever existed if they didn’t burn it down, not even here in Sweden 🙂

 

My neighbor got two light nets.

My neighbor got two light nets.

and I a new light chain.

and I a new light chain.

One of the orchids started to open up this morning.

One of the orchids started to open up this morning.

 

The Yule Gnome is a mix of the folklore gnome and Santa. Looking at old paintings the first Yule Gnomes were quite small and dressed in grey with a red cap. Later on he grew a lot and suddenly he wore red clothes and had reindeer’s. Now days I’ve seen lots of Yule Gnomes with grey clothes again and I like that, sort of like kicking coca cola in the butt 🙂 The folklore gnome is anything but jolly. He, because there are no female gnomes, is always grumpy and really dislike people. He lives on farms and help with all the work, especially with the animals and the better one treat the animals the more the gnome helps. He is almost always dressed in worn grey clothes and a red cap. He always have a long beard, usually quite white or grey and it can be so long that he can wrap himself in it totally. The gnome is very strong and can if he so see fit kill a human with one blow, if for instance they mistreat their animals. It is important not to give hom new fine clothes because he can start to believe that he can’t work with too fine clothes and decide to leave the farm 🙂 If he would start to really dislike the family who lives at the farm he can burn it down.

 

A bit frosty this morning but it started to rain some when we were out walking.

A bit frosty this morning but it started to rain some when we were out walking.

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The gnome has two close relatives that are more or less extinct now days. One is the Mill Oldster. Back in the days we had loads of mills along most creeks or rivers and the mill oldster helped keeping the place in shape. He had his moments though when he could be extra grumpy, for instance if they had to use the mill at night he just stopped the mill from working. It could be because he thought nights should be calm and quiet so he could play the fiddle and he was almost as good as the water nymph Näcken but he had no intention of drowning anyone though 🙂 or it could be just because he wanted to be nasty. There was a way to bribe him though, Mill Oldsters are big lovers of tobacco, especially snus, snuff. So if one gave him some he allowed them to start the mill anyway. There was another reason he could do things like stopping the mill, it was because he wanted some company so he was a bit more social than the gnome.

 

Stairway to heaven? :-) These coming photos are from yesterday or earlier.

Stairway to heaven? 🙂
These coming photos are from yesterday or earlier.

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The second relative was the Skeppsrå. I can’t find any good name on him in English but we can call him ship gnome. He did much the same job as the gnome but on ships instead. No one knows from where he came, some believe he sort of grew out of the tree other believe that he might be a gnome following the tree from the forest. Sometimes it happened that one grew out from the tree and one came with the tree from the forest and two gnomes can’t live on the same ship, of course :-)If they couldn’t agree on who should stay, which of course they never could, a big fight started. It could become so violent that the entire ship broke and sank to the bottom. One Captain managed to stop one of these fights by letting one stay on the ship and promised the next ship to the other one. The Ship Gnomes lived as long as the ship existed, when it sank the gnome died and since we don’t build that many ships from wood now days most of them are gone now.

 

He wasn't happy yesterday when he followe us to the bog. Lots of people around and I guess the smell of an eventual wolf doesn't help :-)

He wasn’t happy yesterday when he followed us to the bog. Lots of people around (the hunting group was out grilling hot dogs)and I guess the smell of an eventual wolf didn’t help 🙂

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The pig is also a very important Christmas symbol here. Most believe it’s because we eat ham every Christmas which most likely is wrong. We haven’t eaten Christmas ham for that long to be honest but it goes way back to our pagan days. It origins from when we had the Norse gods. Up in Valhalla, located in Asgard where Odin and the chaps lived they had a pig, Särimner (I think You call him Sæhrímnir in English-speaking countries and I think that might be Icelandic). He was slaughtered every day to become their dinner and as long as every single bone was saved he resurrected again early next day. Practical but perhaps not that fun for the poor pig 🙂 The pig has always been very important here because they gave a very lot of food for very little input so to speak. They could just let the pigs walk around in the forest and didn’t have to feed them at all, they found enough food just walking around eating what they found on and in the ground. They always slaughtered the pig at Saint Lucia’s day so they had time to make all the sausages and other things they would need during Yule and the rest of the year. In many of the old Christmas cards one can see the yule gnome, the yule buck and the pig and a few presents too of course 🙂

 

The calf was very wobbly in the legs when trying to get some food and the mother didn't help a lot, she moved around all the time :-)

The calf was very wobbly in the legs when trying to get some food and the mother didn’t help a lot, she moved around all the time 🙂

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 Thank You both Joyce and Dianna! 

I wish You all a Good Yule!

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16 responses

  1. jaz

    happy jul christer! it looks like everything made it in good shape! aren’t those canadian maple cookies wonderful? i rarely like store bought cookies but we love the dare maple ones! it is so warm here i have my doors ad windows open. it is going to be in the 60’s today. i need winter!!!! enjoy all of your goodies! joyce

    December 24, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    • Hi Joyce!

      Everything is in great shape and I love it all 🙂 Thank You once again!

      Those maple cookies are dangerously delicious 🙂 It’s hard just to take one 🙂

      It’s a bit on the chilly side here now and tiny snowflakes are falling from the sky, looks like we’ll get a white yule here after all, I won’t mind as long as it’s just a dusting 🙂

      I will enjoy those goodies to the fullest 🙂

      Have a good yule!
      Christer.

      December 24, 2014 at 1:47 pm

  2. Hi Christer,
    Lovely Jul presents you got there. Some of them I recognize and have consumed myself but the Bog Frogs caught my attention. Definitely a name to encourage tasting. 🙂

    How sweet to have a Christmas calf right outside your yard. It’s not a great time of the year to be a newborn though.

    I’ve seen the Jul goat in pictures but over here he tends to be rather ornate with embroidered halter and saddle cloths and painted horns.

    The pig is shown here, too, but mostly in cross stitch patterns. He has lots of embroidered and decorated additions as well because if you’re going to be stitching a picture of a pig, he may as well have lots of stitchery on him. 🙂
    Oh, we can also find the peppermint pig with a little hammer. It’s a German tradition. You’re supposed to bash the pig to pieces with the little hammer and pass the bits around.

    I wonder if there are gnomes that grow from metal. If there were then there could still be ship gnomes. But there’d probably be lots and lots of them on each ship which would not be good if they argued. Sorry, mind is wandering. Again. 🙂 🙂

    God Jul to you and enjoy all the wonderful treats.

    December 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    • Hi Caryn!
      Yes they sure are 🙂 I’ll get a heart attac eating it all but it is so worth it 🙂 Yes I just had to try them first 🙂 They are delicious 🙂

      It is so cute but its mother doesn’t seem to understand that he needs warmth so when all other cows went indoors she stayed and started sleeping on the ground, not especially good for a nbew born even if it is a furry calf. I stood outside talking to her after our second walk and told her that she wasn’t such a good mother keeping her little one outside in the cold and snow and that since there most likely is a wolf walking around here she better go to the other cows who already had walked indoors. Either she understood me or just got tired of me but she did actually walk away and indoors 🙂

      I’ve never seen Saint Lucia ride a yule buck! 🙂 But it is a nice painting. The goat is usually white in our old paintings and pulling a sled and it quite often has red ribbons around its horns. Pigs however usually just look like happy pigs or are laying on a big plate roasted in the oven 🙂

      We call candy canes for Polka Pigs 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever seen a peppermint pig though, must see if I can find any and buy it 🙂

      Don’t think they can grow from metal, just imagine how bad those fights would be 🙂 something like WW2 and on every ship too 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Merry Christmas!
      Christer.

      December 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      • Maybe she knows a winter calf is a waste of her energy because it will most likely die. Sad.

        Here’s the peppermint pig story. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/peppermint-pigs-smashing-tradition-ny-article-1.1217611
        I was wrong. It isn’t German though that’s what I was told when I got one. It’s from upstate New York which means it might have Dutch roots. But, in the end, it comes down to marketing like everything else about Christmas in America. 🙂
        They’re good peppermint pigs, though and it is fun bashing them to smithereens with the little hammer. Let off some of that Christmas angst. 🙂

        December 24, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      • I wonder if they still have that instinct but it could of course be something like that. My guess is that she just was tired and wanted to rest and really didn’t care about her calf 🙂 Not all mothers are great mothers 🙂

        Dutch, German, something else. It’s from somewhere down on the continent 🙂

        I must try that one day, would be great after the wage negotiations 🙂

        December 24, 2014 at 4:31 pm

  3. Birgit

    Merry Christmas – God Jul – Frohe Weihnachten !
    Have a wonderful Christmas Eve. It’s also our big day. The most convincing argument I’ve heard for celebrating Christmas today is that Germans don’t want to be unpunctual on Christmas 😉
    Thanks as always for showing your great photos and sharing your lovely stories. May the gnomes be always nice to you!

    December 24, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    • Hi Birgit!

      I wish You the same!

      I have read an article that might explain why we celebrate today, I’ll write about it on Friday if I remember it 🙂 But that argument would fit good on us too 🙂 🙂

      I’m glad You like them 🙂

      So far they have behaved nicely but they are grumpy beings so who knows when it turns 🙂

      Frohe Weihnachten!
      Christer.

      December 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm

  4. Dianna

    Merry Yule Christer! I just loved the story today! Steeped in such folklore is a fabulous thing! I would happily take your share of pickled herring! I love it! 🙂 We have a very large Icelandic community just to the north of our city called Gimli and a larger one more north of that called Hecla. Gimli holds a large Icelandic festival every year. The picture of the green fungus that looks like its reaching to the sky can almost resemble something under the sea, its wonderful!! And the picture of the guard kitty on high alert is precious! I hope you enjoy the treats! Have a good evening!

    December 24, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    • Hi Dianna!

      I tend to avoid pickled herring 🙂 I can’t understand how anyone can eat it 🙂

      So the Icelanders are great pickled herring eaters too! I’m not surprised though, fish is what they have plenty of and any variation must be good 🙂

      I’m glad You like my photos 🙂

      I’ve tried the tea and it is delicious! and it is quite strong too so I only needed two bags when I made a cup. My cup is half a liter so usually I need more than two bags to make it taste anything 🙂 I’ll try the coffee tomorrow morning 🙂 The maple cookies are dangerously delicious! Thank You once again!

      Good Yule!
      Christer.

      December 24, 2014 at 4:38 pm

  5. Oh WOW!
    You really raked it in! LOL!
    You have some wonderfully thoughtful friends! 😀
    I love that photo of the newborn cow.
    So sweet.
    The Gnome/Santa/Pig traditions are very interesting to read and learn about.
    Thanks for sharing.
    I must go get busy now, so many things to do before going to my Step-mom’s annual Xmas Eve dinner.
    Have a Good Yule!!!
    😉 – Cindi

    December 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    • Hi Cindi!

      I sure did 🙂 and I sure have 🙂 and everything is just delicious!

      It is a very cute calf 🙂 They finally went indoors! It is snowing here now so it would have been just too cold for the calf.

      I do like our old folk lore, too many know nothijg about it any longer.

      Have a great yule eve dinner!

      Good Yule!
      Christer.

      December 24, 2014 at 4:40 pm

  6. Happy Jul, Christer

    A calf born on Christmas Eve is a wonder. When I was a kid, I used to believe all the animals talked at midnight on Christmas Eve, but I could never stay awake long enough to hear them.

    I love all your gnomes and your Christmas lore. We just have Santa Claus who isn’t all that scary. He does keep a list of who is good or bad so we never took much of a chance. We were good.

    Have a wonderful Jul. I’m sending warm wishes!

    Kat

    December 24, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    • Hi Kat!

      It is so cute that little calf and I don’t think the owners knew anything about it until late in the afternoon 🙂
      They can, I’ve heard but like You I always fall asleep too early 🙂

      Yes we do have a few 🙂 We have so many of these old beings and loads of regional onbes too, like our Bog Ladies (or a better translation is actually Bog Hags 🙂 )

      Have a Very Merry Christmas!
      Christer.

      December 25, 2014 at 6:38 am

  7. Robin Larkspur

    You made a very good haul on Christmas goodies!!! Have a wonderful Jul and may it be peaceful!! Christmas hugs to the dogs and cats, and one for you too, Christer!!!!!

    December 25, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    • Hi Robin!

      I’ve had so much now that I won’t eat any food for days now 🙂

      I wish You the same 🙂

      Christer.

      December 25, 2014 at 7:22 pm

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