Winter in Sweden is no joke.
In Stockholm, during the darkest month of the year, the sky is light at 9:30am and the sun starts setting at 2:30pm. In those few hours of gray daylight, the temperatures are frigid. The Winter is long and if you are a Swede you go on with life in the dark.
We traveled to Stockholm to check in with my parents and to take care of immigration related paperwork. I was born in Stockholm, and though my family traveled all over the world, I spent most of my childhood summers in the beautiful archipelago outside of Stockholm. I have a strong connection with Swedish custom and food, and am bizarrely familiar with the Swedish Way of things.
Swedish cinema is good at depicting this cultural nuance. Some that come to mind are Let the Right One in, My life as a Dog, Bergman's Fanny and Alexander and of course the original mini series The Bridge.
We boarded the 3.5 hour flight, which cost 34 Euros (one way) from a temperate climate to dead Winter. Stockholm is a bustle. Much faster bustle than Barcelona. The most notable trivial things where the speed at which people moved- much faster up North. They where also much more quiet and possibly quite grumpy in comparison to the Spanish.
Christmas was upon us, and there were markets decorated with lights, saffron pastries, handmade toys, tree tchotchkes, and of course the iconic winter drink- Glögg, a hot spiced wine, infused with almonds and raisins. It's quite good in small doses.
This is in front of the Royal Castle in the Old City of Stockholm. The king still presides here, doing whatever modern Kings do.
Kodiak secured a Swedish passport, which I believe is one of the best gifts I can give him- welcome to the European Union. This basically entitles him to work and live anywhere within the currently 27 countries in the EU (barring the UK now) I hope there will still be an EU when he is all grown up.
I learned that back in the 1200's Swedes drank either beer or hot mulled wine(aka Glögg)because clean drinking water was a scarcity. The kids back then would eat a porridge made from beer. I imagine in the middle ages, the entire population was a bit tipsy giddy, and thus able to deal with Winters, "medicinal" blood letting practices, public tarring as punishment and the plague just fine. The Plagues, there were three of them, that wiped out about 50% of the population. I spent hours at the Stockholm Medieval Museum, which is fascinating.
One of the highlights was watching the Santa Lucia procession at the 13 century StorKyrkan (big church). The acoustics within those ancient walls was impressive, and the candles and singing together was timelessly beautiful. I love the many varied traditions around Christmas all over the world. The Taos Pueblo christmas eve procession (and fires) being one of my all time favorites.
You can take the girl out of Sweden, but you can't take the Swede out of the girl.