Saturday, March 4, 2017

Postcards for the Weekend - Sweden

This week the PFTW theme is “from your home country”.

I was born in Sweden, my family roots in this country go back generations, and I’ve lived here all my life. So that’s the easy part.

Choosing what postcards to show… Not quite as easy, perhaps. But since I have scanned all cards I sent out on Postcrossing adventures over the past few years, I’ll have a look among those.

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I’ll start with this, as it shows much that both tourists and natives often find typical of Sweden. At least in summer! Lots of nature – and easy access to it. There are rather generous rules allowing people to hike across or temporarily camp on another's land, boating on someone else's waters, and picking wildflowers, mushrooms and berries. However, you are of course not allowed to litter or cause damage; and there are special restrictions for endangered species and nature reserve areas etc.

If anyone is wondering about the elk/moose hugging the country, it’s because the European elk is known as the King of the Forest here.

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Sweden is otherwise a constitutional hereditary monarchy with a parliamentary system; which means that we have a human King as well, but only as ceremonial head of state, while the real power lies with the democratically elected parliament.

The present royal family descends from Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who was imported from France as crown prince back in the early 1800s when there was no legitimate heir from the previous royal family in Sweden. Our present king is Carl XVI Gustaf, born 1946, and on the throne since 1973. In 1976 he married Silvia Sommerlath, whose father was German and her mother Brazilian, and who grew up in both those countries. Next in line to the Swedish throne is their eldest daughter, Crown Princess Victoria. In 2010 Victoria married her former personal trainer Daniel Westling (there was some fuss about that…) who was then also given the title prince. By now they have two children together: Estelle (5) and Oscar (1).

Victoria’s two younger siblings also both married partners without royal background; and on the whole it’s all been rather a boost for the popularity of the royal family, with one big royal wedding after another, and no less than five little princesses and princes born in the last few years. In the postcard above you see, from left to right: Prince Daniel, Crown Princess Victoria,  King Carl XIV Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Prince Carl Philip (then not yet married), Princess Madeleine and her British-American husband Chris O’Neill (who declined the title of prince). (My guess is that the photo is from 2013, which is when Madeleine and Chris got married.) For certain traditional celebrations (like national day or midsummer) the queen and princesses often wear folk costumes.

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Our National Day and Swedish Flag Day is 6th June. However, the most traditionally Swedish celebration of all is probably Midsummer. On a typical Midsummer dinner table you will find fresh potatoes (the early ones are ready to be harvested just about then), pickled herring (must confess I’m not a fan of it myself), meatballs (for those who don’t like herring), bread and butter… And for dessert: Fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Possibly on top of a cake decorated with little Swedish flags:

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And of course - in our dreams/memories and postcards at least! - always perfect weather, lush green nature and picturesque old red wooden houses

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(Illustration postcard by Erkers Marie Persson)

… and/or looking out over the sea or a lake …

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(Illustration postcard by Björn Berg)

Truth be told, though, it’s just as likely to be raining!

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(Illustration postcard by Lena Andersson)

Weekend Linky Party:

19 comments:

  1. I love the little flags! I have always thought that Sweden has the most beautiful flag!! The first postcard has everything! Even a tiny snail. Are the food pictures postcards as well? I love the first postcard, and the girl fishing in the rain. Also the people in traditional costumes eating, in front of the red buildings. Everything looks like a Mid-Summer Night's Dream! Wish I could visit.

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    1. Yes Ginny, all of these are postcards. The food ones as well.

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  2. I regret losing the chance to partake in midsummer celebration with my friends in Lund; I was supposed to travel to Sweden last year. I'm planning another trip soon for next month, not quite summer yet though! But I can't wait to be in Sweden again with the nice fresh spring atmosphere and relax with a cinnamon bun and tea in hand while watching locals and foreigners alike rush through their own ways at the Gothenburg station.

    Thanks so much for Sweden cards -- all are beautiful! I didn't know about the elk being the king of the forest. For Swedish meatballs, I have a friend who often does invite me to IKEA (15 minutes walk from my house), just to eat Swedish meatballs. I don't really see it in restaurants when I visited 2 years ago ... I can't wait to come again and discover which type of restaurants offer this ;-)

    By the way, I wrote you a private email to the address I found in your About tab with my address. Thanks again!

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    1. Maria, I certainly hope spring will have made better progress in April. Just now it's snowing again...
      About meatballs, you're more likely to find them at a place serving everyday kind of family-lunches rather than in a posh evening restaurant ;)

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  3. Hi Monica, I just learned quite a lot about Sweden here in your post. Interesting indeed! I’m a retired teacher so I still love to give scores and for this post you’re getting an A+. All the cards fit the theme nicely. I find the Royalty to be quite interesting and I especially like the card with their group picture. I hear your comments about cards showing the great weather in Sweden, and then, with a smile … it’s just as likely to be raining! I’ll bet you know the same is true for Seattle, and probably a lot of the USA. They say, here in Seattle, we have the “bluest skies you’ve ever seen” in a song, but Seattleites wonder when the artist was here to write the lyrics. :-)

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    1. John's Island - Glad you liked the post. Swedish summer is always hard to predict... It can be hot and sunny one year, and rainy the next. It can also vary a lot between the north and the south.

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  4. The last card is one I think I have received (probably from you). My next favourite is the Erkers Marie Persson one - I love those style of cards.

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    1. So that's where that card went! ;)
      (I found my scanned copy in a computer file sorted by artist.)

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  5. when I saw the first postcard I thought this is my favorite of all the cards you have shown us, but as I browsed I decided today I can't pick a favorite because I love all of them. the first and the last are tied for first place but then again.... we don't have a king we have a 'clown' in charge. I remember the post you did on Victorias wedding. at least there will always be an heir to the thrown with all the new prince and princess

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    1. Sandra, the to be or not to be of the monarchy is debated every now and then; but on the whole I don't think it's been at the top of anyone's agenda lately. Hereditary monarchy as idea may feel a bit outdated, but for a small country like ours I think it probably contributes to a certain stability.

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  6. Sweden is a country very popular for German holiday makers, as you probably know. Close to where I live, along the route O.K. and I often use for our Sunday morning runs, someone has built a "Swedish" house that looks like something straight out of Bullerbü.
    The only time I have ever stepped on Swedish soil was when, as a family, we travelled to Bornholm to spend the summer holidays with my Dad's oldest sister who has been living there for donkey's years.
    Back then, East Germany was still a different country, and we had to take a huge ship from Travemünde to Sweden, drive the car around the southernmost tip of the country and board a smaller ferry from Ystad to Roenne (sorry, can't do the proper ö).
    I think I'd really like to visit your beautiful country, Monica, and enjoy a Midsummer meal!

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    1. Maybe some day you will, Meike! I've never been to Bornholm myself but my parents went there once on holiday, I think.

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  7. Interesting post and I enjoyed the postcards. Midsummer would be a wonderful time to visit Sweden, but no pickled herring please.

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    1. None for me either, if I have the choice, Janet! :)

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  8. Fascinating post. How are the economics in Sweden? I was under the impression that things are more equally proportioned than here. Is that the case?

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    1. Sandra C - More equal than where? Not that economics is really my field anyway...

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  9. I actually LIKE pickled herring...I lived in Norway as a child, but sadly never made it to Sweden.

    I appreciated learning about the monarchy and the food in Sweden. I don't think I can pick a favourite card however... they are all wonderful! Thank you for posting them.

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    1. Norway and Sweden have quite a lot in common, Helen. :)

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  10. Oh, I love your selection. I was in Sweden some years ago. Just three weeks, travelling by train; I enjoyed the trip a lot. I hope I would repeat it some day!

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