Archive for the ‘Facts’ category

Midsummer

September 25, 2006

midsommar_dans.jpgPerhaps the most characteristically Swedish tradition of them all is the Midsummer celebration. The Midsummer holiday is celebrated on the weekend closest to 24 June, with Midsummer Eve on Friday followed by Midsummer Day on Saturday. Midsummer marks the longest day of the year, and the skies never really grow dark. We celebrate the light and the greening of the natural world.
Most Stockholmers leave to the archipelago or the countryside during Midsummer weekend, but those who stay behind in the city have many options, too. Skansen, the world´s oldest open-air museum, holds a grand and festive Midsummer celebration, with dancing and games to the tones of Swedish folk music. Many participants wear traditional folk costumes and wreaths of flowers in their hair. Midsummer is celebrated in similar fashion at locations throughout Stockholm. A maypole decorated with flowers and leaves is raised in a meadow. The maypole is put together in the shape of cross with wreaths hanging from its crosspiece. Once the maypole has been raised, the party can begin, with dancing, singing and games around the maypole followed by traditional dishes including herring (marinated with vinegar, sugar, onions and spices) and new potatoes. Beer and snaps wash down the food. One folk tradition that still lives on is that unmarried girls pick seven types of flowers during the night and put them under their pillow when they go to bed. According to tradition, they will dream of their husband to be.

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The Monarchy

September 23, 2006

kungafamiljen.jpgSweden is a monarchy and the king is the Head of State but he has no longer any authority in the governing of the state. The king’s task is of representative and ceremonial character. But this has not always been the case. In the 1809 Constitution, which was valid until 1974, the king had the formal power to govern the country. It was the king who appointed and dismissed the ministers and he was the highest military commander, among other things. The king’s authority had declined even before the change of constitution in 1974. The last king who actively tried to influence parliament was King Gustaf V during World War II.
The present king, King Carl XVI Gustaf was born in 1946, the son of Prince Gustav Adolf and Princess Sibylla. He became king after his grandfather’s, King Gustav VI Adolf, death in 1973. In 1976 the king married Silvia Sommerlath and they have three children: crown princess Victoria, prince Carl Philip and princess Madeleine.
Until 1980 the crown was inherited by men only (agnatic succession), but in 1980 the order of succession was changed to strictly cognatic succession, which means that both male and female descendants to King Carl XVI Gustaf have the right to the throne. An elder sister or brother takes precedence over a younger sister or brother. Thus crown princess Victoria will become Queen and Head of State after her father.
The royal family does not live in the royal Palace of Stockholm. Instead they have lived in the Palace of Drottningholm outside of Stockholm since 1982. The king is known for his great interest in nature and environmental questions, he is Chairman of Honour in the World Scout Federation and chairman of honor of the Swedish WWF.

Swedish National Day

September 9, 2006

swedish_flag.jpgJune 6th is the Swedish National day, celebrating when Gustav Vasa became king in 1523. Vasa’s seizure of power ensured Swedish liberation from the Danes and thus, Sweden became an independent country. The celebration of the national day is not as big as in other countries, since Sweden never had a war of independence. There is usually some concerts, a smaller parade in Stockholm and the royal family will meet the people by the royal castle in Gamla Stan, Stockholm.

Visit Skåne (Scania)

September 7, 2006

skane-sanddyner.jpgSkåne, the southernmost part of Sweden, is no ordinary Swedish region. Its small area offers big experiences. 400 kilometers of sandy beaches and big, beautiful national parks. Fields of yellow rape and deep green forests. Peaceful country life and grand city vistas.

Top things to see in Skåne:

  • Malmö. Sweden’s third biggest city and just a 30 minute train ride away from the Danish capital, Copenhagen. Malmö is easy to walk around by foot and is very pedestrian friendly. Make sure you see the turning torso, the tallest residential building in Scandinavia.
  • Kivik is famous for its apples and the brewery where the Kivik cider is made. If you visit in the summer, don’t miss the market (Kiviks marknad) and walk around in the cute town.turning_torso.jpg
  • Lund is just a short train ride from Malmö and also has one of the biggest universities in Sweden. Lund is a small, charming town which can easily be seen in one day. It is best to visit during the school year, since most students leave during the summer.
  • Höganäs is famous for its ceramics. There are several stores and workshops that you can visit and see how different objects are made. For addresses to different stores click here.
  • Båstad. The Swedish Open tennis tournament is played here every summer, and that is when all Swedish celebrities and everyone else goes here. If you are not into tennis, Båstad has a nice beach, sailing and hiking, and a great night life during summer.

Flying to Sweden from North America

September 5, 2006

There are a few direct flights from the US to Sweden. However, all of them goes to Stockholm’s main airport, Arlanda. If you wish to go to southern Sweden, the best alternative is to fly to Copenhagen Airport, which is between Copenhagen and Malmo, and just take the train to Sweden from there. If you are flying from Canada, you have to fly via an American airport or another European city, since there are no direct flights. These are the direct flights from the US to Stockholm:

New York Newark with Continental, Malaysia Airlines and SAS.

Chicago with SAS.

Boston with Finnair.

Philadelphia with US Airways.

To Copenhagen you can fly direct from these cities:

Atlanta with Delta.

Chicago with SAS.

New York Newark with Continental and SAS.

Seattle with SAS.

Washington DC with SAS.

Famous Swedes

August 29, 2006

Science
Carl von Linné, (17071778), was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of nomenclature. He is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology. He is known as the “father of modern taxonomy.”
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Ferries to and from Sweden

August 28, 2006

vikingline.JPGSeveral cities in sweden are easy to reach by ferry. While some ferry lines are simply used as a mode of transportation, others are mainly for pleasure. The biggest cruise companies are Viking Line and Silja Line (Stockholm – Finland). These are all the routes you can take to and from Sweden and which ferry company that does the route. You can often get very good deals on tickets, especially if you are willing to sleep under car deck, and last minute deals.

Stockholm – Helsinki (Helsingfors), Finland. Viking Line, Silja Line
Stockholm – Turku/Åbo, Finland. Viking Line, Silja Line
Stockholm – Mariehamn, Åland Islands (between Finland and Sweden). Viking Line, Silja Line
Umeå – Vasa, Finland. RG-Lines
Stockholm – Tallinn, Estonia. Tallink
Stockholm – Riga, Latvia. Tallink
Nynäshamn (Stockholm) – Ventspils, Latvia. Scandlines
Karlshamn – Ventspils, Latvia. Scandlines
Nynäshamn (Stockholm) – Gdansk, Poland

Karlskrona – Gdynia, Poland. Stena Line
Göteborg – Fredrikshavn, Denmark. Stena Line
Helsingborg – Helsingör, Denmark. Scandlines, HH Ferries
Varberg – Grenå, Denmark. Stena Line
Strömstad – Sandefjord, Norway. Color Line
Helsingborg – Oslo, Norway. DFDS Seaways
Göteborg – Kiel, Germany. Stena Line
Trelleborg – Travemunde, Germany. TT-Line
Trelleborg – Rostock, Germany. TT-Line, Scandlines
Trelleborg – Sassnitz, Germany. Scandlines
Göteborg – Newcastle, England. DFDS Seaways

linjekarta-stena-line.gifdfds-rote-map.jpg

Stena Line route map (above) and DFDS Seaways route map (below)