The relief of Swedish advent

Image  A practical Swedish electric advent calender to light up the darkness 

So it’s the first of Advent this weekend and this year it comes as a major relief for those of us in Stockholm.

You see at Advent, Swedes decorate their houses, apartments and windows with lights. From ceilings, illuminated stars are hung. On window ledges, electric advent candles are placed. On tables, four candles are positioned and one is lit every Sunday up until Christmas. Small candles, often red, are dotted about the home.

Some years, there is already snow at the first of Advent, but this year in Stockholm, there isn’t. So it is very, very, very dark. The collective advent decoration is a definite reprieve from this darkness as light is spread into these murky places.

The word ‘advent’ comes from the Latin ‘adventus’ which means ‘waiting’ and is traditionally the start of the period where we wait for the nativity, or Christmas. Some religions also see it as waiting for the second coming of Christ. But in this secular society that is Sweden, the waiting is probably for the snow to come, the cold to hit, the water to freeze to ice and for winter to clasp its fingers firmly around us.

2 thoughts on “The relief of Swedish advent

  1. Hello Neil,
    Many Swedes belive that ‘advent’ means ‘waiting’ (‘väntan’ in Swedish), but actually it means ‘coming’ (‘ankomst’). Just for the record. I even found this mistake in my son’s school book.
    I just discovered that your blog is out there. Your post about impolite behaviour in Stockholm was great, and I look forward to reading more.

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