Strange but yummy Swedish tradition - Semla.
Today, is the Semlas own day!
Traditionally it´s the last day before lent, where you were supposed to stuff yourself to prepare for the 40 days of fast before Easter.
Nowadays we don´t fast that much, but we eat the Semlas anyway!
The best Semlas in the world are made by my friend Kristina.(Below under a fig tree). Home grinded and cooked almond filling, perfectly whipped cream and buns just big enough to make the perfect fika!
So, now… Time for coffee and a Semla!
If you are in Sweden in the beginning of the year… try one out!
It is truly a Swedish fika!
Unfortunately we can´t sell Kristinas yummy Semlas in the webshop, but we have lots of other nice things. Have a look below!
And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Cold, dark and tiresome.
A new year. fresh like the first page of a book just waiting to be written.
New memories to make, new experiences not yet known of, so many days to fill.
Let´s do our very best to make this a year of:
… AND dance, bubbles, sunshine, rain, walks, swims, nature, responsibility, singing, heaven, flowers and more love!
ARE YOU IN?
We are heading for our first fair for the year, TOP DRAWER in London. We are so excited to meet the British customers and start introducing ourselves to the British market.
Today we welcome spring. We listen to choirs singing the traditional spring-welcoming-songs. We watch the students taking their hats on and having big festivities the cities with tecnical universities. We are lighting fires and holding hands with loved ones, freezing in way to light summer clothes.
Supposedly we are celebrating Valborg as a memory of a Saint from the 700:s named Valborg. Even the Vikings were lighting fires and having a party this day to welcome spring. In the middle ages people were lighting fires before they let their cattle out for summer, to scare away wolves and demons. Nowadays, there are not too many wolves to scare away, but singing in the spring and meeting people around a big fire is still a nice tradition. So, happy Valborg everyone!
The celebration of Lucia on December 13, is probably one of the most Swedish of traditions. There are special songs for this day and every school and kindergarden has their own Lucia celebration.
Originally Lucia was a Saint from Syracuse, and how she became a Swedish tradition is a long story.
December 13th was told to be the darkest night of the year, and in the old believes people were afraid of all kinds of evil that might be sneaking around the house on a night like that. So they would stay up all night if possible, eat and drink, light candles and try to withhold the darkness. Then came Christianity and the old traditions had to be modified to suit the new believes. So we imported a Saint from Italy, who got to bear the tradition on her shoulders. Lucia has a crown of candles in her hair, and her maidens carries one candle each. Lucia often comes with a tray of coffee, gingerbread cookies and saffron buns. And most of all, she comes with the light and the knowledge that Christmas eve is eleven nights away.
Nowadays, Lucia comes with an entourage of maidens, Staffans (boys with cone hats with golden stars), ginger bread men (!), and a couple of Santas. Just writing this in English makes me realize how difficult this tradition is to describe in words. I guess you just have to come to Sweden for december 13 to experience the whole thing. It is a beautiful and a bit magic tradition and nothing beats a Lucia entourage at the kindergarden with a bunch of Lucias with plastic crowns all singing a bit out of tune.
"Ska vi fika?" ="Do you want to have a fika?", is something more than "do you want a cup of coffee?"
Fika is almost like a holy ceremony for the Swedish people, and Fikapause is mandatory on all workplaces. 15 minutes, normally at 9 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon.
Fika is more than coffee, it´s about sitting down together SHARING the coffee break, gossiping a little maybe and chit- chatting. Preferably with something sweet to go with the coffee like a cinnamon roll.
Today it felt like spring finally arrived, and we had this years first outdoor fika in the sun. WITHOUT a big jacket! Such a lovely feeling!
So what is it that makes the Swedish fika so special? The tradition goes way back, from the time people would visit each other in the countryside. It became almost a competition on who had the best "fika bread" which generally had to include a cinnamon roll, some kind of spunge cake and at least seven shortbreads. Why seven? I really don´t know. I remember visiting my Grand mothers friends when I was a kid, and they had complete control on who had what cookie. You had to eat your seven kinds, otherwise it was considered rude. In that far away country side they also served a glass of snaps (real strong alcohol) to go with the fika. Maybe for digestion, I don´t know. I was offered, but refused.
Nowadays there are of course like everywhere else a lot of different variations of coffee to choose from for your fika, but still the most common is regular coffee with either milk or sugar. Two generations ago, the coffee was boiled not brewed, and my grandparents and their friends would drink their coffee on the saucer. They poured some of the coffee from the cup onto the saucer and balanced it on one hands fingers and sipped loudly. Supposedly to get the right temperature of the coffee. My grand dad would also drink "on the bit" which meant he had a hard lump of sugar on the end of the saucer and sipped the coffee through the sugar. I haven´t seen anyone doing this for a very long time, so I guess that tradition is dead. But the fika tradition definitely is not.
Swedish people are sometimes considered cold and not so social, mostly staying at home. Maybe that is true, but we are very very good at fika!
The bakeries start selling the Semlas right after new-years and all the way until Easter. Most people have their favourite bakery and so have I. In a way. The very best ultimate Semla is made by my friend Kristina. She makes them the perfect size, (small) and the perfect taste, with a delicious not too sweet filling. This weekend we were lucky enough to have her and her family as guests. And YES, she brought some Semlas!
Traditionally there is one specific day for eating Semla, called Fettsidagen. "Fat tuesday". That is the last day before the pre- Easter fast. There are records in old books as far back as the 16th century of people eating Semla. In the beginning the bread was baked without any spice, but eventually people started to sweeten it with honey and later with sugar.
Semla is made of a wheat bun, where the top is cut off and a hole is carved out inside. It is filled with a sweet almond cream, then a thick layer of wipped cream and at last the top powdered with icing sugar. Mmmmm....
Some eat their Semla dipped in hot milk in a soup plate, so that the wheat bun slowly goes mushy. It´s called hetvägg "hot wall". There are different traditions, but I prefer mine as it is. With a perfect cup of coffee of course.
Kristina brings her own vintage almond grinder, to have complete control of the filling... Impressive.
The crushed almonds are mixed with bread crums and boiled in cream for the perfect creaminess.
Another friend of mine hade one Semla a day as a craving when she was pregnant. It is a very tasty thing, but one a day would be too much for me.
It was however not enough for the Swedish king Adolf Fredrik who died in 1771 after eating too much Semla, on the very day before the fast. A bit stupid I must say.
So, if you visit Sweden in the beginning of the year, don´t miss out on ordering a Semla at the nearest bakery:
Kim is originally Danish with a Norwegian mother and Veronica is all Swedish. We live on the west coast of Sweden and run the design brand Born in Sweden with a true love to the all Scandinavian lifestyle.
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