12 Reasons I Will Miss Linköping, Sweden

I will soon be moving back to the US. There are things I am going to miss about Sweden, and the town I have been living in,…Linköping. I am sure there will be other things I will notice after I leave. Here are 12 things I know I will miss, not in any particular order.

1. The small town atmosphere in a fairly large town. The city limits has a population of about 100,000. Because there are few high rise buildings, it maintains a small town feel.

2. Most everyone in Sweden speaks English, since the education system is serious about students learning English. All I need to do is speak in English, and they will switch from Swedish to English. Often the Swede I am talking to will say they are enjoying speaking in English because they don’t always get to practice it.

3. I will miss shopping downtown. It is a walking downtown with many, different shops. Anything from clothing, fabric, craft supplies, household décor and necessities, tools, and groceries. In the US there are very few downtowns that still have this feature.

Walking Street in Linköping


4. Walking is something I will miss. I can get anywhere I want in about a half hour. It is refreshing and good exercise.

5. I have enjoyed riding a bike about town. Linköping is a bicycling city. It is easy to ride a bike around town because most of it is fairly level. Walking and biking is the main way residents navigate to work, shopping, and leisure activities. In the US most areas do not have the bike lanes along the sidewalk, which makes biking more dangerous. Plus towns and the places you need to go are spread out more. So hopping in the car is the norm.

Bikes parked in Linköping


6. Gamla Linköping (Old Linköping), is like stepping back into time with the 19th century town. I can buy handcrafted wood, handmade paper, old style toys, candles, handmade crafts, or candy. The café has table settings of the period, and good coffee, tea, pastries, and breakfast sandwiches. Then I might see townspeople dressed in period costume or a demonstration of old time methods, or just enjoy the museum displays.

Gamla Linköping

7. The abundance of park, and forest areas to walk in town, or bordering town, that lets you remember the creator and the peace of nature.

8. I will miss the simple houses of Sweden. There are very few mansion type houses. If you see one, it was probably a castle at one time.

9. Ryttargårdskyrkan , the church I attend will be missed. I listen to the service with head phones. A translator gives the English translation. The fika time has allowed me to meet a lot of very nice Swedes.

Listening to sermon with translation headphones


10. I will even miss our apartment. The ease of cleaning the entire apartment in 15 minutes is enough to be missed.

11. Räksmõrgås (shrimp open face breakfast sandwich), meatballs with lingonberry sauce, potatoes fixed in so many ways, and the pizza…I love the European style pizza.

Raksmorgas

12. Last but not least, I will miss the people. If you ask for anything, like to explain something, or directions, every one of them has been gracious to help. I have met people from England, Ireland, Egypt, Serbia, Israel, France, and of course Sweden. The people from all these countries were from the church, and some are in the English Bible reading group I am a part of.

I will miss my American friend who is married to a Swede, and has lived here for 11 years. We have “hung out” together every week that we were both in town. We met because she made a comment on a blog that I also read, and said she lived in Linköping, and was an American living in Sweden. That was only a couple weeks after I arrived, and I contacted her, we have been good friends since. I just met another American living in Sweden. Already we have started a good friendship.

We have all shared, and laughed, and compared cultures, and teased one another, no matter where our culture of origin has been. Those are things that good friends do.

Also, oddly enough I have a feeling of missing out on the friendships that have not quite developed yet but probably would.

Well it’s time to say goodbye Linköping, but not without a few tears. Tack! Hej då!

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Walpurgis Holiday in Sweden

Traditions are strong in Sweden. Walpurgis is the only official Swedish holiday not connected directly with a church holiday. When the church is referred to in Sweden, they are referring to the Lutheran church. Until just over a decade ago, the Lutheran church was the state church. No other churches were recognized officially. Many Swedes still think they have to be a member, at least by name of the Lutheran church.
Walpurgis, or the Swedish word, “Valborg”, is on May 1st. In many parts of the world it is May Day. The celebration starts with Walpurgis night, or “Vaborgsmassoafton”. The Walpurgis celebration is practiced mostly in Northern Europe, and is especially strong in Sweden.
One of the main attractions of Walpurgis is burning a huge bonfire, set at dusk on April 30th. The custom began in the 18th century, and was originally with the purpose of keeping away evil spirits. But now it is usually seen as a celebration of springtime. Burning off the dead of winter, and cleansing of the fresh and new spring.

Bonfire Walpurgis at Ryttargårdskyrkan

The Scouts are active in Sweden, and we have a troop connected with Ryttargårdskyrkan (Baptist), the church I attend. They have the role of starting the bonfire. There were about 50 of them.

Scouts with torches for Bonfire


There are other traditional events on April 30th, and May 1st, associated with Walpurgis. Bands and orchestras will play Spring songs, choirs will sing, public officials will speak. We were told that the men’s choir sings once a year at the church we attend, that one time is on Walpurgis night. “Fika” (coffee, pastries, and fellowship) is also a part of the Walpurgis night celebration. A prayer tent was also available for anyone in the church, or community, to pray. This could be done privately or with a counselor.

Men's choir at Ryttargårdskyrkan

Photo taken by Daren R. Couch

Children's choir at Ryttargårdskyrkan

Photo taken by Daren R. Couch

Prayer Tent

Of course, many continue the celebration of Walpurgis night by patronizing the bars, and shooting firecrackers.

There is a traditional hat worn by university students. It is black in the winter, and white in Spring and Summer. There is a changing of the hat ceremony on Walpurgis, or the day before.

The spring celebration continues throughout the next day. In some places there are parades. Musical groups are very busy on Walpurgis. Many families have picnics in celebration.
Here are more pictures of the celebration at the church.

Challenge Game for Children

Scouts Selling Hotdogs, and Hamburgers

Photo taken by Daren R. Couch

Grilling the hamburgers

There are two other special things remembered on this two day celebration. On April 30th, flags are flown in honor of King Carl XVI Gustaf’s birthday. Also May 1st is Swedish Labour Day. The Swedish worker starts the holiday about noon on April 30th, and is also off work on the 1st of May.

I enjoyed Walpurgis night, celebrating at my church. I was able to spend time with friends, and meet new ones. Traditions are different, but there is so much similarity in all of it. Also,the weather cooperated beautifully. On April 30th, it was the first day since I have been here, that the temperature got in the 60’s F. On May 1st, it was even warmer. I welcome you, Spring in Sweden!
Globe Trottin Granny

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