The following conversation is transcribed from a conversation between me (HS) and my co-worker/informant (SC).
SC: *Brings in waffles for everyone at work*
HS: No way! Thank you! These look absolutely amazing.
SC: No problem man. It was waffle day yesterday, but I wasn’t here. We have to celebrate today.
HS: There’s a waffle day?
SC: Yeah. It’s something that my family does that we got from Sweden. It’s called Våffeldagen. It’s actually a funny backstory. So we used to celebrate Vårfrudagen, which is another Swedish holiday, but because the names for the holiday and waffles are so similar, we just eat waffles instead.
My informant is a co-worker from my job. He is a Relationship Banker, and so we work a lot less closely than my other co-workers on the teller line. Regardless, he is a great guy and we enjoy a little office rivalry- he went to UCLA. Yuck. His parents immigrated to the United States from Sweden, but because he still has a lot of family living there, he visits a lot and in the process has brought back a lot of Swedish traditions to his family here in the United States.
It was about 10:00 am at work, and all of us were getting our pre-opening work done when my informant came in with some waffles that his family had made.
I never thought that some waffles would be the catalyst for a piqued interest in linguistics, but here we are. The fact that Swedes celebrate Vårfrudagen, or “Our Lady’s Day,” by eating waffles because waffles in Swedish sounds like Vårfrudagen, is, for some reason, just so interesting to me. It made me realize the real effect that language has on our everyday lives. Prior to hearing about this cultural development, I would have argued that the spelling of a word is rather arbitrary and probably has very little impact on culture. Våffeldagen, or Waffle Day, is proof that language has a profound impact on cultural and societal development.