On Christmas Eve the foods are based on the Viking traditional foods in Sweden :
Cold First course:
Beet salad with beets, pickles, herring
Rye or hard bread with butter and cheese
Warm second course
Ham with mustard
Julienne potatoes with cream and anchovies
Cookies with cream and berries
Then on Christmas day aside from the leftovers, the foods are based on Christianised Swedish foods:
We have leftovers from Christmas Eve for the first course
Lutefisk or another more mild white fish
Rice porridge with milk, sugar, and cinnamon
Put a peeled almond in the porridge (so it is the same color) and everyone takes it without looking
Then we say poems around the table while eating and the person who gets to almond has to pretend like they don’t have it and everyone guesses who got the almond
Whoever gets the almond gets a little almond gift
The informant is the granddaughter of a Swedish immigrant and these are the traditional foods eaten on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for dinner.
The informant’s family is Swedish-American and therefore mixes some American traditions in with the Swedish but relies heavily on the Swedish ones for the majority of what they do. Eating these foods although difficult to get and not always the favorite of the American guests allows for the family to retain part of their identity that they find important. They make an annual summer trip to Sweden and would like to eventually spend Christmas there as well as there are more Christmas traditions that they cannot do as they are not in the right location. Because of this, they do the ones they can which include the food they eat. Retaining the pre-Christian Viking food as well indicates a sense of pride in their heritage and brings them together. Keeping the traditions also helps add a sense of family and fosters an atmosphere of community. The family is very close as a result and all of them meet for all major holidays. The traditions bring them together and give clear boundaries of who is considered family and who is not, as it is a big deal to be invited to partake in the traditions.
The informant is a family member of mine that has lived in Lebanon for the entirety of her life and has grown up learning the significance of certain rituals and traditions with the world around her.
The informant describes this medicine as a plant that is seen very traditionally “in many Arabic or Lebanese homes”. Although the plant has an original term and transliteration, it does not have a direct translation to the English language and is “similar to the leaves grown on herbal plants”. The plant is used to heal most wounds that include “deep cuts, scrapes and other physical injuries that required care” and is done by cutting up the leaves and making it into a “paste-like texture” and rubbing it into the wound. She states that it must be wrapped on the wound and left with no other ointments or medications as it is said to “clear the wound of any bacteria and also help it heal with the nutrient provided. The elder of the family, “usually my grandmother” my informant states will usually rub the plant into the wound and say a religious prayer to accompany the physical healing for general health and prosperity.
Although it is believed to have physical healing properties similar to aloe vera, it also holds religious significance as the plant was believed to have been the “Arabic blessing from god onto [their] gardens.” This is due to the plant not being seen anywhere besides the Levantine region and is seen as a gift that is only presented to them with its supposed healing powers physically and religiously. It is seen in most elders’ gardens as it was believed to have been the most “beneficial plant for bodily treatment”. The religious prayer was usually from the Islamic book, the Qur’an and would denote speeches from there to “help the kids who get hurt from their everyday activities”. The informant states that “it was important for me to do the same for my children and grandchildren because I still believe in this plant’s medicine and how god will listen to us” conveying its importance on her family and bloodline.
The plant is seen as more than a healing alternative to modern-day medicine as it seems to be still used to present the significance of culture on the healing and growth of children who get hurt and are treated with this plant. Religiously, the implications of the medicine being a gift from god allows the elders of the family to be seen as authority figures performing the acts of god on the children, healing and removing their worries from a situation through the use of plants grown in their garden. This blessing of the medicine in Lebanese culture plays a larger role as my informant still believes that it is the most suitable for most cases of harm, presenting it as a sort of ritual. It signifies the transferring of culture from one generation to another as she still uses it today on her grandchildren whilst teaching them the benefits. The life cycle of a plant may also be used to depict the human life cycle as it is also religiously associated and presents connotations of healing, allowing younger generations to feel connected to this certain folk medicine for the rest of their lives and offering them protection.
The informant is a student in university who has spent the entirety of his life in the United States, starting various different traditions that she has the ability to experience due to family members building upon their values.
On Thanksgiving, the United States’ annual national holiday, the informant, her family and extended members join together to “share [their] love with one another by bringing [their] Christmas earlier in the year.” The ceremony that takes place accompanying the traditional Thanksgiving feast and activities includes the “exchange of an ornament on Thanksgiving because we often won’t be able to be together during Christmas but we get to carry a reminder of them on the tree.” This is typically done “after the meal ends, giving each other the ornaments, symbolic of our love on Christmas eve and day, is mainly for the extended family members who we don’t get to see on the most chaotic days of the year”.
The informant states that this tradition has existed in her family since “[her] brother was 5 so that was 13 years ago” and was a very important ceremony that played a “unique part of Thanksgiving day” as it was “more symbolic than the turkey was to [them]”. She had also expressed that these ornaments were usually personalized according to each family member and their interests, specifically over the course of that year. Examples of this in her family exist through an ornament that she received years ago that was “Nemo themed because it was my favourite movie as a child” and that resonated with the rest of the family as they put it on their tree for that Christmas season. Ornament ceremonies had a certain dynamic and were typically done between specific individuals most of the years with an exchange of “the older generations giving the younger generations personalised ones” and the entire family giving the elders “a collective personalised one” from their descendants. This can be seen through her family giving their grandfather a wooden ornament because of their “family memories and love for nature.” She summarises her experience with the ceremony as a “matter of how we can share our love with unfortunately not being able to be in the same space as each other” on Christmas day.
This unique ceremony being done during Thanksgiving presents a different approach to the traditional holiday by implementing the effects of the religious/community holiday of Christmas together. The mix of holidays in a familial setting embraces and highlights the true impact of these holidays on the informant and her family, placing her family in an important position in their lives. Although it is not a generational tradition that has existed for decades, it emphasises the significance of this tradition to the informant herself and her siblings. The personalisation of the ornaments presents the beginning of a narrative of sorts as she is able to collect the personalised ornaments she has received over the years to show the growth in her persona and values as a human. Besides this allowing the family to celebrate the family essence that they do not have on Christmas with the ornaments received on Thanksgiving, it also supports the ideology of feeling extreme gratitude on Thanksgiving. Spreading the “love and family joy” all year round as they prepare for the year ahead of them, with the ornaments piling up over the years symbolizes the impacts of implementing this ceremony onto Thanksgiving. It allows the informant to have grown up feeling connected to her extended family which is evident in the manner she has expressed the importance of family in her life, missing the ones who are not there for Christmas Eve.
My informant is a Pakistani male that has lived in many different countries across the world, yet his attachment to Pakistan and its culture plays a significant role in his life and how he lives.
Mithai is a “type of box or category of sweets” that exist within Pakistani culture. It is comprised of “different sweet treats and toffees that you give out to houses at the weddings.” He describes these sweets as a form of an invite for party favours that occur at the wedding. The sweets are often seen as a ‘thank you’ or token of appreciation and reminder of the wedding, they are the “staple sweets at Pakistani weddings”
The Mithai is usually made by certain stores in Pakistan that specialize in providing the sweets “on a large scale when they also are able to maintain the best quality” for the guests. Even though my informant is Pakistani and has seen these sweets at weddings and different family events that he has attended, it is “a general desi traditional sweet that also exists in India”. This sweet is provided before the dinner or reception as a sort of snack or small bite in order to keep the guests satiated and entertained for the long day of traditions ahead.
The incorporation of food into big events in Pakistan such as weddings allows the guests to feel like they are being cared for in a certain environment. It ties it back to their culture as the unified feeling of togetherness that is provided in the event is seen through Pakistani food as a whole which is usually made for sharing and family-oriented events. The ability that their culture possesses by bringing their families together with food allows them to maintain their connections with the children and set in place the values that they hold when prioritising family. Furthermore, this is seen in the wedding sweets as the guests are seen as part of the family and are given the opportunity to celebrate the day with the community whilst being fed and incorporated into a family tradition.
Folkdräkt – Swedish Attire that depicts family history
Informant: “Folkdräkt is a dress outfit for women and Busserull shirt and trouser set for men. It represents where an individual’s family comes from, or in many cases, like my siblings and I, the garment is passed from generation to generation. My Folkdräkt is from Mora, Sweden in Dalarna County.Each Folkdräktfrom each family has its own distinct patters and garment styles. They are a result of the family’s history, and their certain ties with perhaps specific flowers that can be depicted in Folkdräkt. It is not rare for Folkdräktwithin the same region to look very similar, for they are often influenced by geographic elements and resources.Folkdräktis often worn at weddings and festivals, or any event that may include Hambo. Typically children are the ones performing for adults, but the reverse can also be true.“
Folkdräkt is a dress attire within Sweden that can be used to trace a family’s lineage, or geographical origins. As a folk costume, it is powerful since it’s a physical tie between the individual and their extended history. Nordic countries are known for having a rich, strong sense of folk, that extends from their weaponization of folk to protect themselves since they are smaller countries. Here we can see that this concept may not only occur on the national level, but can be applied to individual families as well. Families within Sweden use Folkdräkt as a catalyst to be able to distinguish themselves from other families. This comes from a desire to be able to define your legacy from others, within a stream of millions of legacies. It is also interesting that Folkdräkt quite literally translates to folk attire, with “dräkt” meaning suit or attire, and folk being an english cognate.