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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I feel Swedish, But I'm Taking Pills for it!

Mom (Bernice Eklund) in 1948
Swedish flag

My mother was a first generation Swedish-American. Her parents came from  Sweden. This makes me second generation Swedish-American.

I know, you are asking, "Hey Jim, why don't you have blue eyes and blonde hair?"  That is a stereotype of folks who think we all look like that, but in reality, we Swedes take several different forms. We come in all shapes and sizes, and some of us have the Nordic blue eyes, blonde hair, but some are known as dark Swedes. Mom and Mor Mor (grandma) were dark Swedes with chestnut brown hair and hazel eyes. Her Dad, was a dark blonde with blue eyes. 

We are proud, hearty, intelligent, long-lived, peoples who make a difference in the world, if we can. We give out the Pulitzer Price each year to people who do good things. 

Pippi Longstocking is Swedish

nice, sexy Ann-Margret is Swedish!

Being a  Swede is fun. We have strange customs like eating cod fish that has been soaked in lye, which we call Lutefisk. And, we are famous for Swedish meatballs, IKEA, Swedish Fish candy, Nordstrom, Ann-Margret, Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Pippi Longstocking, Bjorn Berg, Ingersol-Rand equipment, Tina Nordstrom  on PBS, singing group ABBA, Mrs. Olson of Folger's Coffee, the Swedish Chef from the Muppets, and a slew of other people and things. 

IKEA stores are from Sweden

Lutefisk!  It's Gute fer Yew!

Smorgasbord at Christmas (God Jul)
Did you know we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve? True. A Swedish family will have dinner, then open up presents on Christmas Eve. We eat a smorgasbord, or a formal dinner with shrimp, lutefisk, Swedish meatballs, lefse, lingonberries, potatoes, potato sausage, and desserts with Spritz or Peppakokor cookies. We drink mulled wine with spices and brandy called "Glog" which will get you higher than the space shuttle and make you feel like you love the world.  Many families then go to late night services at either a Lutheran, Ev. Covenant,  Methodist or Baptist church. (There are some Catholics who are Swedish too, but the majority of us are Lutheran of some form because the official church in Sweden is the Lutheran Church.) Ann-Margret is the only Lutheran to have dated Elvis Presley!

Midsommar Festival

Swedes long for summer!  It is in our genes!  In Sweden, and in the USA, we dance around a decorated cross called a Stang and sing songs during Midsommar, which is June 21 during the solstice.

Jimmy the Swede driving a boat at Green Lake in Minnesota last year.
We Swedes do love water. It is in our blood dating from before the Vikings. I long for lakes in the summer, go boating, fishing and swimming.

Swedes in America settled in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Chicago, California and pockets all over the USA. Minnesota has the largest percentage of people with Swedish blood. This is where the Swedish American Institute is located in Minneapolis.  

Some Swedes celebrate our heritage by carrying on the traditions our Swedish parents gave us, and it falls into the trend of being "multi-ethnic."  If I go to Chicago (or anywhere there is one) I stop at IKEA and pig out on a plate of Swedish meatballs every time. And, you can still find Swedish churches that celebrate their heritage across the country here with high mass and communion. Some celebrate Julotta, a Christmas Day service at 5 am, before the sun rises!  I took in Julotta at First Lutheran in Longmont, Colorado once at 5 am.. We sang "Nar Juldasmorgon Glimmar" which translates into "Christmas Day is Dawning."

Swedish pancakes with lingonberries

Al Johnson's Swedish restaurant in Sister Bay, Wisconsin, (located in Door county) is a great place to eat Swedish pancakes with lingonberries with Swedish meatballs. They have goats on the roof, which is a tourist thing to attract tourists, but the food and gift shop there are wonderful.  Georgetown, Colorado, named after King George of Sweden, is a good place for finding Swedish stuff at the International Shoppe. 

Greta Garbo was Swedish

Yes, some people have asked me on the spot to say something in Swedish: I give them Greta Garbo's "I VANT TO BE ALONE!"

Some people know she is famous for saying that, and get a laugh, because it's not spoken in Swedish, but English. But I do know how to say some things in Svensk. Like, for instance, I say "tak sa mycket" which means "thanks so much." Or, I will say, "var sa gud" which means "you're welcome." in Swedish. My Mom used to say my hair "looks like Scrut!" which means junkyard in Swedish, I hope. For years I thought she meant the "S" word. LOL
Swedish Dala horse

Being Swedish is fun, cultural, fun to share with others, and we get along with so many people! 

Yah, sure yew betcha heh! 

Kom Igen!  (Come Again!)