Valborg – Walpurgis Night: Choral singing by firelight.
Coral singing is a favorite pastime in Sweden, and one occasion when almost every choral singer in the country makes his voice heard is the evening of April 30—“Valborgsmässoafton” [Walpurgis Night). Bonfires are lit, on beaches, on hilltops, in parks and on private properties and when the crackling of the fire is at its height, a number of people, often men, step forward, many of them wearing peaked caps with white tops (resembling the high school graduates caps). The group proceeds to sing a number of songs, usually the same every year and all over the country and maintain that the evening marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. There's an American organization of Swedish singers, read more here; www.nordstjernan.com/news/organizations/915/
or visit the organization's website www.auss.org
Spring is in the air.
"Sweet lovers love the spring", Shakespeare wrote. So true. And that’s why we can say for sure that spring is in the air. According to sources, Swedish actress/model/playmate Victoria Silvstedt has a new paramour. Who he is and what he means to her we still don’t know - but it does look serious, doesn’t it?
Whisky from Gotland.
How does ecological whisky from Gotland sound to you? It sounds good to the people at Gotland Whisky, who hope to produce 100,000 bottles of the liquid a year. They will ask for an emission shortly and will also order Scottish distillators. “We look forward to getting things started,” says Anders Stumle, managing director of Gotland Whisky. And if things go as planned, Gotland Whisky will start producing in 2010. The point is to make Scottish-style whisky for the Swedish market. But investors are needed in order to get the ball rolling. “It’s always tough at first,” Stumle says. Today Gotland Whisky has a distillery in Roma on Gotland. There is already another Swedish producer of whisky, Mackmyra, based in Gävle. For more info, see www.gotlandwhisky.se
Haga for Victoria and Daniel.
The hunt for a proper home is finally over for crown princess Victoria and her Daniel. According to the royal court, the Swedish government is giving up Haga Castle, giving it back for royal disposal. Haga Slott was created by CC Gjörwell and erected in the beginning of the 19th century on behalf of Gustav IV Adolf. Many a royalty has since made Haga their dwelling. The king spent his first years here, as did his sisters, who got the nickname “Hagasessorna” (the Haga Princesses). Exactly when Victoria and Daniel will move in, is still not clear. For a tour of the 'house,' see www.hagaslott.se
“Europe” caught in an earthquake.
The Swedish band Europe was caught in an earthquake while on tour in Chile. Mic Michaeli, the band’s keyboard player, fell out of bed and hit his head, another bandmember had pieces from the ceiling falling down on him. “I’ve always felt that Europe is the hardest rocker in the world,” said Joey Tempest, the band’s lead singer, “but I’ve got to admit Mother Earth rocks even harder.” It was at 4 in the morning in Santiago de Chile when the earthquake woke up the bandmembers. “I had slept a few hours, when my bed started shaking and my only thought was ‘Earthquake… Get out as fast as you can’. I’ve never been as scared in my entire life,” said Tempest. The earthquake measured 5.2 on the Richter scale, no people were seriously harmed.
Wallander best in England.
They have their tea and their clotted cream and now they also have their Wallander - and they love him! The British version of the Swedish crime series (by author Henning Mankell) received England’s finest TV prize the other evening. It’s Kenneth Branagh, perhaps best known for his Shakespeare-interpretations, among them “Hamlet”, who plays Wallander, and it was also he who accepted the award. “BBC took an enormous chance when they choose to invest in a melancholic Scandinavian’s problematic life,” he said, adding: “But I have spent half my life making a living doing just that, so for me it wasn’t so strange.” Inspector Wallander is Sweden’s most successful literary export, an international brand, yet it’s hard to see why at first glance. He is astonishingly miserable, fairly ugly and so monumentally unhealthy, he should have his own dedicated obesity czar. British Times says Mankell writes him so Swedish it makes your “heart sing”. The books about Wallander in Ystad are huge global hits that have been translated into 40 languages. And Branagh himself calls Wallander “an enormously fascinating and complex character”.
Stellan Skarsgård is dad yet again, for the seventh time to be exact. A few days ago, his wife Megan Everett Skarsgård gave birth to a baby boy who as for now remains nameless. With ex-wife My, Stellan has 6 children, five who are boys. He married Everett in January of this year.
Izabella Scorupco on motherhood and more.
The Swedish movie star Izabella Scorupco is back in Sweden getting ready for her new film “Änglavakt”, in which she stars along Michael Nyqvist. She talks about life in Hollywood, the lies, and the plastic surgeries. “It’s very difficult to be a mother and an actress today,” Scorupco says. Her two children Julia and Jakob are at home in L.A. with her husband Jeff. Scorupco is a stay at home mom who says it difficult these days to find the time to go to auditions and castings. Unlike most moms in Hollywood, she has no nanny for her kids… until now, that is. Because Scorupco simply couldn’t turn down the part in “Änglavakt”, she now has hired a babysitter. About age and surgeries, she says: “All women in Hollywood lie about their age, but I feel bad about it. I don’t want to lie about my age, even though a few years ago I was told I ought to.” Scorupco says she was shocked at how in Sweden women are asked whether they’ve had anything “done” or not. “In L.A. everybody has, it’s just something you don’t talk about.” Whether she has had surgery herself, she won’t say. “I feel awkward talking about it,” she concludes. For a brief portrait and a stunning photograph of the Swedish LA based actress, see www.nordicreach.com/its_about/people/17/
Meet a different comic book character – a nameless woman with a loadful of difficult feelings. If you read Swedish magazines like Elle, Bang or Aftonbladet, you’ve already encountered her through the comic called “Jag är din flickvän nu” (I am your girlfriend now). Nina Hemmingsson is the author behind this plucky yet depressive female creature, and now the new book “Så jävla normal” has hit bookstores in Sweden. The nameless protagonist is the same but her words are fewer this time. She is often naked and almost always sad or angry. Hemmingsson is focusing on the conflict of being a woman and being in love with a man, while at the same time hating all men and their power. “Today everybody knows what feminism is,” says Hemmingsson. “It wasn’t like that when I grew up. I didn’t understand why I was so angry, until I took a class in Feminist Studies.” Her anger seems to have found its niche in the world of comic books. “I wanted to do something brave with this book,” she says. For a bit more info on the character, see www.bokrecension.se/9189632583
(in Swedish only).
Jonas saves Jesus.
“Description: Short man in his thirties with dark complexion. Of simple background and marked by hardship. Old before his time, most certainly toothless. Called prophet by his followers, by others seen as a tiresome troublemaker.” The author and stand-up comedian Jonas Gardell is settling accounts with Jesus, or at least with the church’s view of Jesus, by taking a closer look at what the historical Jesus might have really been like. Gardell says that everybody who writes about Jesus has an agenda, his own is to save Jesus from the suffocating embrace of the church. It was not a powerful, judging Christ who died for our sins – just a simple man from Nazareth. What’s left when Gardell has rid Jesus of all the polish is a man with a message so radical that churches for 2000 years have washed it out of their preachings: Live like the growing lilies, love your enemies and remember that even sinners have their place in the kingdom of God.