Author Archives: Josefine

1. Julmust: A Crucial Part of a Swedish Christmas

Background information:

Julmust is very easy to find in grocery stores all around Sweden from November to January, as it is in high demand and often replaces the original Coca-Cola. At any other point of time during the year, however, it is very difficult to find as it is not Christmas season during the months outside the range of November to January. Therefore, as this drink is not always available, it makes the drink much more appealing to people because many enjoy the taste, feel that they can better celebrate Christmas with it, and feel that they will miss out if they do not drink it when it is available during the Christmas season, as they will need to wait until the next year to drink it if they choose not to drink it that Christmas.

 

Main Piece:

In Swedish Christmas traditions, food is an extremely important part of the celebration. Usually the array of Christmas foods or “julbord”, literally translated to “Christmas table”, does not vary much from family to family. The “julbord” usually always contains the Christmas ham among many other Christmas foods typically found around the world. A specific Christmas food that is significantly different from others around the world, however, is the Swedish “Julmust”. Anyone who has celebrated Christmas in Sweden knows about the importance of Julmust at the Christmas table, as a Christmas meal is not complete without Julmust. Julmust is a staple for many Swedish families, including mine, around Christmas time as it is basically a more festive version of Coca-Cola. It is seen as festive because it tastes very similar to regular Coca-Cola but also has a blend of spices mixed into the drink that give the flavor more of a holiday feeling. For this reason, many, including my family, feel that Julmust is essential to celebrating Christmas because they have the perfect Christmas drink to complement the Christmas foods at the julbord. Because I was raised with Julmust being an integral part of my Christmas celebrations, I cannot imagine Christmas without it. Julmust not only tastes good, but also is a drink that everyone in my family enjoys and therefore brings us together around the holiday season.

When we moved from Sweden to California when I was almost six years old, however, it was very difficult to find Julmust in grocery stores because American grocery stores do not know what Julmust is and therefore do not carry the drink. As a result, through searching online forums, visiting special Scandinavian grocery stores that were hours away, and going to IKEA, we were able to locate Julmust at IKEA and the Scandinavian markets and were thus able to celebrate Christmas in the United States with this drink every year thereafter.

 

Personal thoughts:

I am a huge fan of Julmust and cannot imagine my Christmas experience without it. Even though I have lived in the United States since I was almost six years old, I will never forget my Swedish roots and will continue to practice even the most trivial Swedish traditions such as drinking Julmust when celebrating Christmas.

Hia Hia Witch (Swedish)

Background information:

My grandmother was born in the suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden, and has three sisters who are roughly the same age as her. Together, they have always been best friends and have supported each other through everything. My grandmother and her sisters all have grandchildren, and us grandchildren go out to our collectively shared summerhouse in the Swedish archipelago every summer. This summerhouse was built by my grandmother’s parents and has been in the family for a while, giving it immense sentimental value. The shared summerhouse is located roughly two hours outside of Stockholm, Sweden by a boat ride and is very peaceful as it is located on an island called Södra Träskö that is completely without cars or internet connection.

 

Main piece:

Ever since I was young, my grandmother and her sisters talked about the famous witch that lived in the middle of the island where our shared summerhouse is located: her name was Hia Hia. Every summer when we visited the summerhouse, my grandmother and her sisters would take all of the grandchildren to the middle of the island where Hia Hia supposedly lived and we would search for her. My grandmother and her sisters would hide and someone would shout “Hia Hia”, pronounced “Heeyah Heeyah” which would spook all of the younger children as they did not notice that one of the grandmothers had disappeared and though that the witch, Hia Hia, was making the noises. Delving deeper and exploring more of the middle of the island, it was always apparent that “Hia Hia” had left small goody bags of candy for the grandchildren on an abandoned treehouse that was located in the very middle of the island. As the grandchildren, including I, became older, we realized that Hia Hia was in fact our grandmothers, but carry this tradition onto the children of the newer generations of our family, so that they can experience the fun that we had with Hia Hia at Södra Träskö.

 

Personal thoughts:

This is one of my favorite traditions that my grandmother introduced me to, as it truly shaped my experience visiting the summerhouse on the island in Sweden. My grandmother is a creative woman who does everything she can to make people happy and truly knows how to live into childrens’ fantasies, which I am very grateful for.

How to get kids to finish their meal (Taiwanese)

Background information:

My friend introduced me to a piece of folklore about how one can effectively get children to finish their meals. He is of Taiwanese descent, as he was born in San Francisco, California and both of his parents were born in Taipei, Taiwan. His family moved to California since before he was born and have assimilated into the American lifestyle but still stay very true to their Taiwanese roots.

 

Main piece:

My friend explained to me a saying that is often used in Taiwan to get children to finish their meals and not leave any food on the plate. The saying goes that if one wants a child to finish their meal and eat everything on the plate, they tell the child that if he or she does not finish their meal, they will marry someone with facial blemishes growing up. He said that his interpretation of this as a child was that he always thought of the remaining food pieces on his plate as signifying the multitude of blemishes that would be on the future spouse’s face when he grew up. Therefore, in order not to risk this, he would always quickly finish his food.

 

Personal thoughts:

I think that this piece of folklore is quite comical because there is no way that there could possibly be any correlation between finishing a plate of food and one’s future partner having acne. I enjoyed that this was a very different saying than what I was used to hearing in the culture that I am immersed in today, as it is refreshing to hear something that I have not heard before. I did find it a bit strange, however, that it would be considered a fear factor to have a partner with acne or facial blemishes because I do not think that this is what one should focus on when considering potential future partners.

Q-tip to clean off mascara

Background information:

I worked at Sephora for around seven months. During my time at this job, I absorbed a great deal of information, learning tips and tricks to flawlessly applying makeup, recommending products to clients, and expanding on my skincare products and fragrance knowledge. What truly stuck out to me during my experience aside from the fantastic coworkers was the vast amount of knowledge that my coworkers had surrounding specific tips to apply makeup in a better way. One of my coworkers, Erica, told me about countless tricks, as she is a phenomenal makeup artist. Erica has shaped an entire culture of makeup application tips in the Sephora store that I worked at and has taught the entire team numerous tips to applying various products.

 

Main Piece:

Once complaining about constantly getting mascara residue on my eyelids after completing an eye look, Erica, my coworker at Sephora, told me an incredibly useful trick to removing the mascara without messing up the eyeshadow under the mascara stains. She told me that sometime when she would apply eyeshadow on herself or other and think that she had completed the look, she would sometimes move forward to apply mascara, which would more often than not ruin the look because of mascara residue. The thing about mascara, she stated, is that it is very easy to transfer onto the eyelids when you move in zig-zag motion upwards through the eyelashes. Therefore, since the eyelashes are so susceptible to transferring mascara onto the eyelids, she tried everything she could to remove the mascara from the eyelids without messing up the artistic masterpiece that she had created with eyeshadow and eyeliner on the eyelids. She said that through years of trial and error of trying different techniques to remove these burdensome and often inevitable mascara stains, she finally arrived at a solution a few years ago, and this was to gently use a q-tip, or cotton swab, to pick up the excess mascara on the eyelids and remove the mascara stains, which ultimately proved to be the most efficient way to remove mascara stains. When she found out this trick, she immediately notified all of my coworkers, who were also struggling with this problem, and this became a revolutionary new trick that was shared with all of the employees at Sephora. Because Sephora is also known for its vast array of teaching opportunities and makeup applications in store, this new trick quickly spread to our client-base and is a very popular method in removing small makeup mishaps.

 

Personal thoughts:

When my coworker, Erica, introduced me to this trick, I was so relieved to know that there was a solution to a problem that I so regularly faced throughout makeup applications on both myself, as well as others. It is extremely frustrating when you spend more than an hour on a specific eye makeup look, blending eyeshadows together to perfection, and seamlessly weave all of the colors together, only to have it ruined by harsh-looking mascara stains. Although this is definitely a very trivial problem and does not have a large impact on my life, my coworker at Sephora helped me overcome an application mishap that has transformed the way in which I can create makeup looks.

Foundation Lips: A Lipstick Trick

Background information:

I worked at Sephora for around seven months. During my time at this job, I absorbed a great deal of information, learning tips and tricks to flawlessly applying makeup, recommending products to clients, and expanding on my skincare products and fragrance knowledge. What truly stuck out to me during my experience aside from the fantastic coworkers was the vast amount of knowledge that my coworkers had surrounding specific tips to apply makeup in a better way. One of my coworkers, Erika, told me about countless tricks, as she is a phenomenal makeup artist. The trick of applying foundation before applying lipstick was one that had a huge impact on me and was widespread and heavily used amongst my coworkers at the store.

Main Piece:

There are many different “hacks” that people use to help or simplify different actions in their lives. At Sephora, I learned about an integral step to easily apply lipstick and make the most out of a certain lipstick shade. Erika, my coworker, introduced me to this makeup hack, and learned this hack from the other coworkers at the Sephora location in which I worked at. To properly make a bright color pop, she said, one needs to first moisturize the lips, then let that dry. Once the lips have dried, she said that it was crucial to use a relatively pale foundation shade relative to one’s skin color, and apply a decently thick coat onto the lips. Upon applying this coat of foundation onto the lips and letting this amply dry, she said that any lipstick could be applied and the color would pop and be more vibrant than if the shade of lipstick had been applied to one’s lips without the layer of foundation underneath. She swears by this trick, as do many of my past coworkers, each of them claiming that it has completely revolutionized the way in which they apply lip shades to not only themselves, but also to their clients.

 

Personal thoughts:

When I first heard of this makeup trick upon my first month working at Sephora, I thought that it sounded bizarre. I wondered why foundation would be applied to the lips as I felt that this would simply dry them out and would not have a big effect on the outcome of the lip color. Upon hesitantly trying this trick before applying a bright scarlet red lipstick, however, I realized why this was such a popular trick at my store: it made the color appear much more intense and did not dry out my lips in the slightest. Therefore, whenever I apply bright lipstick shades to myself or others, I now do this foundation trick and teach others about this fantastic trick!