Friday, June 21, 2013

Living abroad and traditions



Today it is Midsummer in Sweden. This is probably one of Sweden's biggest tradition, to celebrate Midsummer Evening. This day kicks off summer, vacation and is a symbol for being together, raising the Swedish flag up high with pride, making your way to a cute little red Swedish Cottage with white corners, picking flowers to decorate a Midsummer tree. Listening to Swedish folk music and dance around the Midsummer tree to "Små Grodorna" in delight no matter what age... You lay your table with nice decorations, you play games and the children stay up as long as they want to. You drink and eat and get jolly and happy (and sometimes you get so jolly and happy that you fall off your chair...)... This is the day every Swede is waiting for after the long dark winter.

But when you have left your home country to live abroad and you try so hard to stay tuned with all the traditions, holidays and native culture events it is not so easy.  One child is born and it is very intense, you do it all with 200% commitment. Child number two comes along and a number of moves across the Atlantic, and you kind of cut out some of it out that you might not think is that important as life itself is so intense and busy... Child three enters this world and after another couple of moves between countries with adjusting, learning new languages and figuring things out, you suddenly find yourself struggle to keep up with it. Because you are alone pulling this "tradition train".

Your husband is from another part of the world and you are on neutral land. Your home language is not even Swedish anymore. Your children speak three languages depending on who they speak two, which makes you proud of course, but damn... It is hard work behind that one too.

11 years passes by and you find yourself checking Facebook one day in June just to discover Midsummer was yesterday. You forgot! You can't believe you forgot about this. And you feel sad, guilty and stupid... You are becoming dis-Swedefied. 12 years passes by and this year you are more okay with the thought that No, we don't really celebrate Midsummer anymore.

I tried. I have dragged my kids around with the Swedish Church events in rain and in Mediterranean basting sun but my kids are not Swedish. They are not even American. And they are not Swiss. They are International. A little bit of it all. And we are building our own traditions. We wing it from one year to another. Maybe we will celebrate Midsummer next year, but this year we will go light. I picked a Midsummer bouquet. I do have some pickled herring for lunch tomorrow and I might just introduce the "picking-7-flowers-to-put-under-your-pillow-and-dream-about-your-true-love" to my oldest girl who turns 12 this year. I am planning on baking a rhubarb cake and make my own vanilla Semi Fredo... That will be my way of celebrating Midsummer living abroad. Glad Midsommar everyone. Let the light shine bright all day and all night.

Kärlek
Annette

PS I big thank you to you all showing such great compassion on my latest post. Things are okay, time will tell how big the damage is but I look forward. It will all be fine. This is nothing compared to what other people go through but I do appreciate every single message. Lots of love to you all.


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15 comments :

  1. In Finland we have also midsummer celebration this weekend. A lot like in Sweden. And the weather is more than good :) Is much more nice to sit out than in rainy weather.

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  2. En vacker midsommarbukett har du i alla fall plockat och en liten sillbit imorgon blir nog bra.
    Kram

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  3. I think it is so easy to lose traditions in our busy, busy lives. It is sad, but we are so much busier than are parents were raising us, and I bet they lost some of the traditions they were brought up with too. I think your sweet daughter may be dreaming of her favorite band member with those flowers under her pillow.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  4. I understand what you're saying and how you'd like to keep some of your heritage and traditions alive. At the same time, you have such a cool opportunity to expose your children to a wide variety of traditions around the world

    I have a suggestion... Many years ago my parents, myself and my siblings each wrote in notebooks writing our remembrances and traditions down and then shared them with each other. We all still have our copies, 20 years later. I think you should write down all your Swedish traditions, and then the traditions of each of the countries you lived in and put them all in a notebook that your children can have copies of when they get older. It would really be a treasure.

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  5. Sounds like a lovely tradition!!!
    xo Kris

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  6. Lovely flowers, great photos. It must be strange living in a different country from home and the familiar. But I guess every family makes its own traditions. I still live in the area I was born, traditions are changing with the busy lives we all seem to be leading.
    S xx

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  7. I know very well your reality and it's not different from ours!!!!
    An Italian family that have been living in Egypt and Indonesia (what will be next????), with two boys that are attending a British School since they were little!!! Yes, my boys are not strictly Italians as my husband is! I've been doing this kind of life, too, when I was a kid! Canada and Lybia were my home countries!!!!! Crazy life!!!!
    I think you are doing well and your best!!!! xxxxx Ale

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  8. Totally understandable! And totally commiserated--I have a cousin married to Thai but living in Japan--we try to acknowledge all days!

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  9. Oh, Annette. Our world is just getting too small, our village bigger and bigger.
    I love how my sis try and incorporate South African traditions into her Irish life, and how her Cork-man embraces South Africa. But you know,, I was amazed by how the traditions differed Between my family and my husband's, both Afrikaans families from South Africa! Without the complications of different countries and languages. In the end it comes down to your immediate group, what memories you are building now.
    Love your wildflowers.

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  10. Hi, I'm a first time visitor, just wanted to say hello :) The posy you picked is stunning, so beautiful! The Swedish midsummer holiday sounds wonderful; I always think we should celebrate it but I never get round to it. Maybe next year! By the way, I read your last post on the hail storm - my heart goes out to you for the chaos in your garden. All I can say is that nature has a wonderful way of rejuvenating - it might not be as bad as you had feared!

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  11. It must be weird for you, not being home on your beloved holiday. I still hope you enjoyed it though.
    Esther.

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  12. I feel a bit sad after reading your latest post... On the one hand travelling and living abroad is such a great chance for everyone but losing its roots might be the downside.. Thanks for your honest insight.

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  13. Dear Annette,
    Thanks for your words, I recognise them all, trying to raise our 2 'international' kids as a Dutch mother in Italy.
    One day I'll write a book or article about women living between 2 countries, loosing bits of identity during their life...
    Betty

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  14. The Swedish Midsummer traditions sound wonderful and happy, and it must have been so hard for you with all the moves and raising three children - as you say, you now have your own family traditions made together which are the most special and important things of all, as it is those that your "international" children will remember fondly, just as you remember the Swedish ones.
    Gill xx

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  15. Hey, it’s okay. Missing out on a yearly tradition isn’t really that big of a deal. That’s the best thing about yearly traditions - if you miss out on one, you can make up for it next year. You’re doing the best you can working with 3 international children. I can’t even see myself learning 3 different languages on my own, even as a hobby, without any difficulty. It’s okay keeping it simple. As long as you have your family, you’ll never want anything else for the Midsummer tradition.

    Rachal Dworkin @BestLawAssociates.com

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Thank you so much for visiting my world. I love reading your comments and I do my utterly best to respond to questions and sweet messages. Thank you again for popping by.

Kärlek
Annette

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