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.
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.