Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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book of december: james potter

Happy New Year’s folks!

As promised, the last book of the month of this year. 2012 has been full of good books, and fun reads. To wrap up 2012 I leave you not with one book of December, but rather an author of December. This month I may have had more reading time. (I get of work an hour and a half before Evelina comes home = reading time.) And therefore I have read more books.

I’ll preface this with letting you know I’ve never read fan fiction before. I loved the Harry Potter books, as many around the world have. G. Norman Lippert has written 3 fan fiction books based on the Harry Potter world that follow Harry’s son, James, as he goes through his school years at Hogwarts. He has also written his own original works and one short story about characters he created in the James Potter series, yet doesn’t infringe on any copyrights.

James Potter

In December I read the first two James Potter books, the Hall of Elders’ Crossing and the Curse of the Gate Keeper. Then I read Lippert’s original book, The Girl on the Dock. I am now reading the third James Potter, the Vault of Destinies.

girl on the dock

These books are unlike anything I have read before (as I mentioned I’ve never done this fan fiction thing before), and at times I am impressed at Lippert’s writing, and use of Rowling’s world and characters. But other times I find it somewhat lacking, in a way I can’t quite describe. Often it is clear that it is Lippert writing and not Rowling, which is both a good and bad thing I suppose, depending on how you look at it.

I did thoroughly enjoy reading The Girl on the Dock (available on iTunes), Lippert’s original work (and felt a little better for actually giving him some money, as he doesn’t make any money from the James Potter books). It is obvious at times that Lippert is dancing around using Rowling’s ideas, and it can be somewhat strained because of it. But overall, definitely enjoyable.

If you liked the Harry Potter books, give these a try. He’s apparently working on the fourth now, and as long as he’s nothing like G. R. R. Martin, we’re sure to see that one soon. I won’t promise you’ll love them, but you might enjoy the ride.

Happy New Year to you all! May 2013 be full of good books to read and great people to share them with.

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lucia: tales and traditions

Lucia

Happy Lucia everyone! Or Saint Lucy’s Day, as we say in English. Apparently, my sources tell me, Lucia is celebrated mostly in Sweden and Norway, but is also observed in one way or another in Denmark and Finland…and a few other countries in Europe. My sources also tell me it’s one of the few saint days observed in Scandinavia.

I have now been in Sweden for two Lucias (not counting today). From what I understand of the tradition, a girl is elected (possibly out of her class at school, or by the city, depending on the planned venue of the tradition). My first winter in Sweden Evelina and I were in Eskilstuna for Lucia. We saw the city’s Lucia celebration, where the elected girl leads a “train” (direct translation), or procession, of both boys and girls. The elected girl portrays Lucia and wears a white gown with a red sash. Upon Lucia’s head burns a wreath of candles.  The red is to represent blood, the wreath of candles represent the fire that was to burn Lucia when she was sentenced to death. The procession sings traditional Lucia songs, which, when viewing the procession the first time without an understanding of Swedish, have a chilling air to them. Now that I know Swedish, the chilling air is only magnified by the meaning of the lyrics. All the participants of the procession wear white robes, but it is only Lucia who has a red sash, the others wear black. The girls, aside from Lucia, wear wreaths with no candles, and the boys wear white cone-shaped hats with gold stars on them.

The story behind Lucia is that she is a saint from Sicily whose death was rather tragic. When Lucia saw an angel in a dream she became a devout Christian, she was denounced by Roman authorities, but despite their threats refused to renounce her beliefs. The authorities were going to drag her off to a brothel, but Lucia refused to move, and the authorities could not move her, even with a thousand men and fifty oxen pulling her. Instead they stacked timber around her and prepared to burn her where she stood. Lucia was not perturbed, and continued to preach her Christian beliefs. That was when one of the Roman soldiers stuck a spear through her throat to keep her from speaking. This did not kill her, however, she was only able to die after being given the Christian sacrament.

Lucia is celebrated on December 13th because this was once considered the shortest day of the year. The 8 day difference is possibly accounted for with use of the Julian calendar (in the 14th century) – when winter solstice would have fallen on December 13th. Then when the switch was made to the Gregorian calendar the 13th stuck. Although if you ask me, it’s pretty damn dark for the whole of December, so I’m not sure how anyone can tell the difference.

This year we have a hockey game, so we weren’t able to go into the city and see the Lucia traditions. Otherwise you would have been graced with awesome pics. Now the Microsoft Word image above will have to suffice…and feel free to use your imagination. We did however get awesome lussekatter and gingerbread cookies to eat in celebration of the day.

snacks - lucia

P.S. I do not claim any of this information to be 100% accurate. This is the corroboration of an assortment of different stories that I have heard from Swedes, as well as some wiki information (because what’s a story without some wiki-facts?) So please don’t be offended if this is entirely wrong. It’s just…y’know, word on the street.

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you win some, you lose some, you eat cookies

I hope you have been celebrating advent. This past Sunday was the second. So that means two candles have been lit. If you’re not familiar with the concept, every Sunday before Christmas you light one candle, and all the candles you’ve previously lit. That’s about it. Not too complicated.

Here in Sweden we did it Swedish style. Evelina and I were at our friend Johanna’s place for första advent (the first Sunday). After lighting the first candle we enjoyed lussekatter, pepparkakor and glögg. Lussekatter are saffron buns with raisins, pepparkakor are gingerbread cookies, and glögg is spiced wine (varieties with and without alcohol) you drop peeled almonds and raisins in the wine to make it extra tasty.

Second advent was a little less celebratory on our part, as we played a hockey game in Uppsala. Which we lost. I’m done talking about it. I’m over it. Whatever. We did light the candles again at least.

I recommend spending your advent how Evelina, Johanna and I did our first Sunday. Cozy warm, inside, with friends and treats.

Now, an instructive photograph:

an advent how to

an advent how to

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