I am featuring today an interactive chart which shows tax rates on personal income taxes around the world. If you click on a country, it will also tell you whether they have universal health care, and paid maternity leave.
From living in Sweden for a large part of the year in 2012, I will tell you that this chart does not tell it all. In Sweden there are numerous benefits for families with children. Including 480 days paid per child after they are born, which can be taken by either parent or both divided. Sounds good but everyone pays. The universal health care is complained about and many that are employed by companies that provide it, purchase private healthcare insurance, plus have to pay for universal care in their taxes. A 25% value added tax is put in the cost of everything except food. But, food is not cheap. How about $25 for a measurement close to a quart, for strawberries at the beginning of the season when demand is high for their holidays? An article I read from a Swede bank reported that with hidden taxes, including the employers share, the rate is 70%.
I originally published this in 2012, when I was living in Sweden as an expat. It gives an overview of the celebration of Påsk (Easter) in Sweden. There are some similarities and some differences from the US.It was first published on April 19, 2012.
Traditional in Sweden
Although it is past Easter, I want to share this with my readers. I had hoped to have my blog ready by Easter, but it didn’t work out that way.
In the US, Easter celebrates new life, Spring, and most importantly the resurrection of Jesus. Not every US citizen recognizes the resurrection of Jesus as the true meaning of Easter, but it is the prevailing culture.
In Sweden, the majority of Swedes recognize Easter only as a secular holiday. Easter decorations that are common are bare birch branches decorated with colored feathers. Also, brightly decorated paper mache eggs filled with candy are everywhere. They are made in Germany, so they must be throughout Europe. These paper eggs are delightful. As you can see in the picture they are for sale plentifully in the stores. The price translates to $1.92. The candy is not included in these.
Brightly Decorated Eggs
I received one, and this candy was interesting. It looks like a fried egg, but it is a soft marshmallow like gum drop type candy.
The tradition of coloring eggs is celebrated in Sweden, but usually not decorated as elaborately as in other European countries.
Looking forward to the Easter bunny is not a tradition in Sweden. The tradition that is common, but thought of as strange to those who are not Swedes, is the Easter Witch tradition for the children. It sounds a lot like Halloween in the US. The children dress as witches, or (hags), and go door to door with a note, or picture to give, with the hopes of getting a sweet or coin, to put in their kettle. The girls and boys dress in oversize clothes, and the girls wear a bandanna on their head, while the boys may wear a black hat. Their cheeks are painted rosey.
This tradition is from the folklore that the witches fly to a mountain in Germany called the Blue Mountain, to meet the devil. This is on Thursday or Friday before Easter. Then when they fly back, on Easter eve, the tradition is to light bonfires, or shoot fireworks to scare the witches off.
The traditional Easter meal is herring, salmon, meatballs, eggs, potatoes, asparagus, other vegetables, and usually lamb. Pies and pastries are often included, and it is set up as a smorgasbord.
Family time is very important at the holiday. The Swedish worker is given time off, starting with Maud Thursday afternoon through the Monday after Easter.
Attendance is down at most Lutheran churches, which had been the state church. However, attendance is up at FREE churches, which include Baptist, Pentecostal, and Salvation Army. In these churches the importance of Easter, and the resurrected Christ is taught.
Which parts of the Swedish Påsk, (Easter) celebration do you like? Are you surprised by any of them? Please comment below. If you are not subscribed to Globe Trottin Granny, why not subscribe? You will find the Subscribe area at the right top column.
Globe Trottin Granny loves to travel. Some seasons of life includes a lot of travel. In 2012 when I was in Sweden with my husband, who was there for a work assignment, every day was travel. Whether I was in Sweden exploring cultural differences, or traveling in another country. From the base of Sweden, traveling to other parts of Europe is much like traveling to other states in the US. I was blessed with traveling to Denmark, Italy, Greece, Greek Isles, Sicily, Crete, Turkey, Spain and France. Now back in the states, I still do some travel, but not with the frequency as before.
Introducing to you new passions close to my heart. I love to create art with fabric. Art quilting, and other varieties of creating with fabric, color and fiber.
Another passion that developed long before I became Globe Trottin Granny is missions, and charitable giving. As far back as the 70′s when I took my first mission trip to Indian tribe towns in Oklahoma, I have been drawn to a desire to help in missions. Later, I traveled with groups to Vero Beach, Fl, Roanoke, Va., and the Kenai peninsula in Alaska. In all those cases, helping with hurricane recovery, or helping elderly people build wheel chair ramps, or decks as improvements or repairs to their home. Trips to Honduras, and El Salvador showed me other needs.
Thus, I have set up a site to sell things I have created. I have been able to combine my creative desire, with my desire to give to missions and other charitable causes. All profits from the sale of my creations will go to these charitable causes. It will not go to me traveling for mission trips, that is separate, but will go to causes that I have identified that may be mission related, or other needs.
You will find my creations at CouchBeeCreations – ArtFire Seller Shop” title=”Couch Bee Creations” target=”_blank”>Couch Bee Creations on Artfire. Also please see the coupon sale which is valid between April 10, 2014 to April 19, 2014. Use the coupon code in the ad to get 20% off on your purchase of select items at checkout. The items eligible on the site are labeled with coupon.
Lynette Skoglund Kleve is a new author/contributor to Globe Trottin Granny. She resides in Sweden, and can bring some insight into the culture of Sweden. Lynette is a friend of mine, who writes her posts on Facebook in a way that you can feel the emotions, and smell the scents. Be sure to check out the About Additional Writers page and read a little about her.
It was December 7th, and the 2nd Annual Christmas Fair at Gamla Linköping (Old Linköping, Sweden) was in full swing. My husband, Bo and I decided we’d get some exercise by walking over and seeing what was on offer. As we trudged through the snow covered sidewalks to the entrance, the first thing that caught our eye was the beautiful spruce tree standing in the middle of the old square with vendors all around.
It was a feast for the senses as there was beauty as well as tantalizing smells perfuming the air such as; fresh pine wreaths, glögg (mulled wine), candy, smoked fish, salami and my favorite, brända mandlar (candied cinnamon almonds) just to name a few. We got there early and while there were people there, it wasn’t crowded which made it easy to maneuver through the cobblestone streets. No matter where we were, carolers were heard singing festive songs in Swedish and in English and sometimes I got caught up in the festive spirit and sang along also, though not as beautifully I’m sure.
One of the shops there, “Ankungen” (The Duckling), had their sign all festively decorated with pine boughs and little white lights. It’s a children’s book store but has more to offer than just books. There are toys of various kinds and lovely postcards, and there is even a small room with ceramics, and other delights for those who are over 7 years of age. It is a fun place to visit.
There were Smithy’s demonstrating how to pound iron into a Ljusstake (Candlestick holder). We enjoyed watching them craft the iron into a thing of beauty, especially my husband. There were several Smithy’s situated around the old town so if you missed the one in the square you were sure to find another just around the corner.
Here is one photo showing fresh pine wreaths for sale as well as some ceramics. It was the first snow of the season so to be out in 24° F weather was a bit on the nippy side.
One nice feature of the market is that if you do get too chilly, you can always warm yourself at the various fires they have burning outdoors.
Perhaps the most memorable time at the market was when we went into one of the old houses to see how people lived back in the old days and to my happy surprise there sat Tomte (Santa) warming himself by a roaring fire! This particular house wasn’t very big at all. Two small rooms and the kitchen was all it consisted of. Spinning one’s own wool was very common back then. They slept on a bed that doubled as a sofa and the bathroom facilities were quite handy in the form of a chamber pot on the floor. Back to the kitchen there was a volunteer in old style dress spinning her wool yarn in front of the old wood burning stove. I suppose the old stove and fireplace were situated in the middle of the house so that all the rooms were sure to keep warm from either fireplace or wood burning stove. I remarked what a hard life it must have been but the volunteer told us that it was actually quite a comfortable way to live back then.
We moved on to another of the museums. This next house is called Solliden and was donated by the son of the couple who lived in the house. He donated it and all it’s belongings as they were in the house when the parents died. It’s a popular attraction and I’ve been in it many times. This day the house was decorated with a lovely little Julgran (Christmas fir tree). A very popular decoration is to drape little Swedish flags on the tree as well as other ornaments. The tree also has real candles on the tree, but that isn’t so common today as electric ones are used. The volunteer at Solliden was baking Pepparkakor (Gingersnaps) and as you can see, she used cookie cutters. Popular shapes here are reindeer, stars, ginger men and women, angles and of course the pig. They were very tasty!
We’ve now gone thru the square and down some side streets, taken in some of the museums and are heading to Baron Von Lingen’s gård (Baron Von Lingen’s Garden). The house was built in 1720 and used to be situated at the top of Storgatan in Linköping but now resides in it’s present place at Gamla Linköping. As we entered the house, a maid was at the door ready to welcome and inform about what one might see. In the dining room, which is central in the house, there waited an elegantly dressed woman in the style of dress one might have seen in the late 1700′s and she stood at the dining table, which was adorned with all kinds of food that would have been eaten at the house during this time of year. There is fish, paté and liver paté, köttgelé (aspic), and beautifully carved butter and soup just to name a few. There would have also been a real pigs head on the table, not for eating but for decoration. My favorite room by far has to be where the help dined. It is full of wood, copper and all sorts of kitchen tools from the old days. Yes, that’s hay on the floor to help keep those sitting there warm. On this visit they had a puppet show upstairs for the children and adults alike. As I stood there listening to the Swedish and looking at the funny pink hand puppet I realized they were acting out the story of The Three Little pigs. I found myself smiling and had quite a good time listening to the very good story tellers. Another fun thing was a cheese making demonstration which was given in the basement. A man showed how to make a round of cheese similar to a white cheddar. Food for thought?
Outside once again and in the garden stands a pole with some grain sitting on it for the birds. I’m sure they appreciated it on this cold day. In front of the pole was another smithy who was making a ljusstake out of iron. Bo gave it a go as well.
Back in the square once again, I just had to get a picture of the sky….it’s so lovely when it’s blue. Our final moments of our day’s adventure at Gamla Linköping is this shot of some of the vendors tables and some of old buildings and then the horse drawn buggy that was giving rides around the old town. We had a very nice time stepping back in time in the open air museum of Gamla Linköping.
Did you enjoy Lynette’s post giving us a view of God Jul in old time Linköping? Be sure to leave a comment to let her know. It is so much fun to be connected to the readers, and the readers to the author.