uppsala-river

on the last day of april it’s time to celebrate

there are so many fun traditions swirling around this time of year… we are halfway through spring and headed straight towards summer. and, here in sweden, that is serious business.

the last of april (sista april) is a day that takes all of that excitement about spring and life and warmth and growth and light, and calls for bbqs, bonfires, music, champagne, and outdoor fun, including letting animals out to pasture again. it is a day, especially in uppsala (where i live), where the celebration begins early in the morning on the last day of april and continues on into the first day of may, a national holiday in sweden.

but, why the last of april? where did this tradition come from?

ultimately, in the northern hemisphere, this is the time of year when mother earth opens up and brings new life all around. that’s the basis of this entire celebration. a pagan, hedonistic, ancient day of celebrating the desire to leave winter completely behind, including turning away evil spirits, and welcoming the warmth + light + new life of the spring and summer months.

valborg-bonfire

 the other name for the last of april is valborg, which comes from the name of saint walpurga, a woman who left england to become a missionary nun in germany in the 700s. may 1st is her saints day. christians took the former pagan festival of the celebration of spring, and turned it into a celebration of st. walpurga.

however, valborg in sweden has very little to do with religion, and everything to do with the arrival of spring. and, this is not a private, family celebration like christmas or easter, mind you. no, this is a very, very public event. whole towns and cities gather together outside to celebrate as a community.

and the biggest community celebration is found in uppsala. lucky me! 

yes, the largest and most traditional valborg celebration is found right here where i live. the celebration begins early in the morning with a breakfast of champagne + strawberries, and ends late at night. in between, all day long, there are tons of traditions and thousands of people. it is estimated that about 10,000 extra visitors will make their way to uppsala on the last day of april to take part in this gigantic celebration of spring. that’s insane! basically, it’s gonna be wall to wall people all over the city, especially in parks. on blankets. having bbqs and drinking massive amounts of alcohol. the city has even ordered 62,400 bottles of water – encouraging everyone to drink a bottle of water in-between drinks. serious business, huh?

this year also marks the 40th anniversary of a rafting competition in the river that runs through the middle of the city. the rafts have to be handmade, therefore they are rickety, funny, and quite easily torn apart, i imagine. i’ve never seen the rafting race, so i hope to make it down there this year!

there are free concerts, with choirs singing very traditional spring songs, a speech by the university’s president from the balcony of the library (where thousands of people gather), and a champagne run. later in the evening, outside of the city there are big bonfires and more songs.

so, the whole day is just one, big, crazy celebration. 

i am most definitely looking forward to celebrating my 2nd valborg in uppsala, my 4th in sweden. the last time i was in uppsala, i was deathly ill with some sort of stomach virus, so i missed out on most everything. i stayed curled up in the fetal position with a bucket beside my bed in the guest room at lina’s brother’s apartment. from my little cot, i listened to everyone in the living room, partying and having fun. poor me, right?

valborg-drinks

but, this year, i’m all ready!

we’ve got our champagne and wine chilling, our grill + picnic blanket all ready, and we can’t wait to celebrate the magical, life-giving, beautiful spring + summer in sweden. now, let’s just keep our fingers crossed (and hold our thumbs) for good weather tomorrow!

have a great (and safe) last day of april! and, join in the celebrations wherever you are – celebrate spring or autumn. either way, the seasons are moving forward, and the amazing cycle of life continues. how freaking awesome is it that we get to be a part of that?

i’ll check back in over the weekend + share some photos. after recovering from the celebrations, of course. wink. wink.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

IMG_2899

merry christmas eve: bringing sweden to the states

god jul!! hello, friends! can you believe that it is christmas eve already? how did that happen?!

things are pretty exciting in our home right now. since it’s christmas eve, it’s the big swedish celebration day for christmas, and we are planning on putting on the most swedish julafton (christmas eve) we can! what that means is that we get christmas stockings this morning, search for a donald duck cartoon on the internet to watch (a swedish christmas tv cartoon that the entire country watches at 3pm on christmas eve – don’t ask. hehe. traditions are what they are! and i love donald duck!), make meatballs, potatoes, and ribs for a big dinner this afternoon, listen to christmas music, light candles, have a mid-afternoon fika, and enjoy a slow, cozy day together.

this year, of course, we are celebrating with lina’s parents who are here – soooo cool! and my parents + brother will join us for dinner this afternoon, so they’ll get a little of the swedish christmas vibe, which means so much to me.

it’s a very rainy + dreary day here in the mountains of asheville. no snowy christmas eve, but it’s still cozy. right now it’s early morning, and i’m enjoying a few moments to myself before the festivities begin. by this evening we will make the switch over to celebrating christmas eve in the traditional american way – a trip to the church where i used to work ages ago, for their candlelight service, family movie time with popcorn, and then bed – to wait for santa to come! we are actually going to all sleep at my parents’ home, so we’ll even have a traditional christmas day morning. it’s so much fun to celebrate in two different ways – makes the holiday last even longer. hehe.

basically, it’s just all a bunch of excitement right now. (*giggles + squeals*). wishing you a beautiful christmas eve filled with lots of laughter + a few stolen moments of peace and silence. soak it all in. breathe deep the love. and enjoy the little things. i know i sure will.

my-love-and-me-christmas

 

light + love xoxo

atlantic-beach

back where i come from

you know, i was planning on doing a big wrap-up post at the end of my beach vacation with the family, but i realized that i will not have time to doing blogging once i get home. why, you ask? because we arrive home on sunday night and on tuesday morning we head to sweden for a month (WOO HOO!) – so, monday will be filled with laundry, organizing, and packing! instead of one big post, i’ve decided that i’ll do updates whenever i can – this might be my only post, but it might not be. who knows… you just gotta stay tuned!

our vacation is happening at atlantic beach, north carolina – a place that my family calls “home”. not only because we have always vacationed here together – since i was 10! – but, also because one of our ancestors was the keeper of the cape lookout lighthouse, one of the famous NC lighthouses. he was keeper in the mid-1800s, the first one actually. he raised his family on these NC islands, known as the outer banks. and, ever since, my family has been represented here and connected to this part of the state in one way or another. so, when i say that this place feels like home, i really mean it. there is just something special that we all feel when we are here.

as i know i have said before at some point, being here is one of the constants in my life. it is just a magical, grounded, completely centered feeling that i have when i stare out at the great, big, wide atlantic ocean – a feeling of belonging and peace. and, of course, fun!

so, here’s what we’ve been up to since we arrived on sunday: fun, food, drinks, sand, surf, laughter, & fireworks. the week has started off with a bang – and it just keeps getting better.

atlantic beach northcarolina

IMG_2222

fireworks fireworks-beach atlantic beach fireworks.

peace & love. from me to you. xx