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Swedish Ways: Trettonhelgen

This is only about a week overdue as the day in question was last Thursday! Trettondagsafton and Trettondagen (last Friday), indeed all of Trettonhelgen (Thursday to Sunday), is what’s called Twelfth Night in English. I think it’s from when the three kings came to visit Jesus in the stables in Bethlehem, but most Swedes would likely just shrug at that and say “yeah, whatever”. We have several holidays based on religion, but as Sweden today is very secular, the days only mean “we don’t have to go to work/school today because it’s a red day in the calendar”.

It’s common for TV to show a musical farce during this weekend. It runs in the summer, at Fredriksdalsteatern, an open air theatre in Helsingborg in the south of Sweden, and is recorded for TV. When I was growing up, the star of these used to be Nils Poppe, but since he retired, comedienne Eva Rydberg has taken over. She’s definitely living up to the expectations he left!

Other than that, it’s really only a few days off from work. For those still in school, the Christmas break is generally not over until the week after this weekend – this week. Think it varies depending on where you are in the country though. Either way, a lot of school kids have the standard question of “what I did during my Christmas break” to look forward to …

Traxy Thornfield

A Swedish introvert in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) where she lives with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel. Will get a novel out one of these days, if she doesn't get too distracted on the way.

2 thoughts on “Swedish Ways: Trettonhelgen

  1. I am really enjoying your Swedish Ways posts. Do you have Golden Name Days, or is that a different Scandanavian country?

    We have the twelfth day of Christmas, which is my girls’ argument for why we can’t take down the Christmas tree until AFTER they’re back in school. Usually I ignore their whining, heave the tree outside, bring out the peanut butter and bird seed and have them decorate the tree all over again for the birds and squirrels, but this year it wasn’t cold enough to do that so I gave in and kept the tree up until this past Sunday.

    We also celebrate Epiphany by listening to/watching Gian-Carlo Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors” which is a one-act, very child-friendly opera (operetta really) about the Three Kings visiting a crippled shepherd boy on their way to Bethlehem. This year was really special because friends of ours staged Amahl at their church ON Epiphany: their 12 year old was Amahl, 9 year old was a shepherd, and dad was one of the three kings.

  2. Thanks! Glad you like them. 🙂

    Don’t know about “golden” name days. We have name days (“namnsdagar”), but not sure what the golden part is. I think in some countries, it’s a big thing, but in Sweden, all we really do (if we remember) is to say “grattis på namnsdagen” (“happy name-day”) to the person in question.

    Taking the tree outside and cover it with food for the birds sounds like a great idea! How wonderful! I just cut off all the branches and put the thicker ones to one side (wands!) and the thin ones made a nice, hot fire. The “trunk” will become that walking staff I promised the Squeeze I’d make him ages ago. 🙂 For the birds, I have a feeding station in the back garden instead, and I love watching it being used.

    Sounds like a lovely thing to do, staging that play – and watching it, of course! It’s a shame with Britain, because it’s not something that gets celebrated (unless, I presume, you’re a regular church-goer, which most people aren’t), or even mentioned. It’s just a normal Thursday/Friday, like any other.

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