No ‘Our Father,’ no pastor
In Sweden the “skolavslutning” (the end of school before summer) is of utmost importance. The children are dressed in their Sunday best, the smell of lilacs is in the air, there’s music and singing and a long summer to look forward to. The psalms are particularly important. Lately, however, even the skolavslutning has been secularized, and when only two psalms marked what was religious anymore, pastor Carl-Sixten Block decided it was time to say “no thanks” to skolavslutningen at Knäredsskolan. The ceremony used to include The Lord's Prayer, a prayer for the school, a blessing and four psalms. But not so this year. A week ago, pastor Block received a message that he was not allowed to mention the name of God in his speech, and that all other religious elements were to be excluded. The only psalms headmaster Yvonne Arestrand was interested in hearing were “Den blomstertid nu kommer” and “I denna ljuva sommartid.” Because that’s tradition. “As a pastor I no longer fill a function,” says Block. “It would’ve been odd to lead a ‘skolavslutning’ in the church without being allowed to say the name of God.” He adds that for the sake of the children, he will still attend the ceremony, but he won’t have anything else to do with it. Explains chief education officer, Per Jangen: “The headmaster is only following Skolverkets (National Agency of Education) directions, which state that religious elements are prohibited during regular school hours, and the skolavslutning is viewed as regular school hours. This is something all headmasters should look over, as the rules have existed for many years.”

Taking candy from kids
No school candy or sweet soft drinks selling: Kids okay strict "zero sugar" demands by dentists. About a third of Sweden's schools sell sugary soft drinks, candy or other sweets to their students. Surprisingly, more than half of the 1,700 15-year-olds who were interviewed in two different new surveys from the Swedish Dental Association say "no" to sales of sweet junk food on school campuses. Alarming numbers of youngsters eat too much sugar, but most seem to recognize the health implications of high consumption. Nearly half say they gobble candy every day or several times a week, and a third admit swigging soft drinks several times a week. "We now urge schools to instigate 'zero tolerance' policies for sweets in order to assist students toward a healthy lifestyle," stated the association. While three out of every ten Swedish secondary schools sell candy, only one in ten sells sweetened soft drinks (soda pop). The figures show clear improvements since the first Dental Association survey in 2004 when six of ten schools sold soft drinks and candy, and some areas admitted that eight of ten pushed sugar drinks and unhealthy snacks. "We expected that all schools would now have gotten the message and stopped sales in order to help students to a healthy lifestyle," said Gunilla Klingberg, chairman of the Swedish Dental Association. To avoid having ill and overweight adults with decayed teeth, the government plans to require nutritious school meals with a new education law. "All children and young people in school are entitled to the same conditions to thrive," concludes Klingberg.

2.7 million mothers in Sweden
The most common name for the mother of a youngster in Sweden is Eva (74,000 today). The second most frequent name (some 66,000) is Anna. In Sweden, there are more than 2.7 million women who are mothers, and this adds up to 72 percent of the women over 18 years of age. Last year, some 50,000 women became mothers in the country for the first time, and the average age at the time they gave birth was a bit over 29 years. Today in Sweden, a slight majority of new mothers (less than 1.4 million) do not reside with their children. The remainder 1.3 million women live together with their newborns. At present, some 30,000 women have adopted children. There are also about 4,000 females who are married to the child's natural father and are stepmothers. Per capita, the greatest number of mothers live in Gotland, where women have an average of 2.3 children. The Swedish capitol, Stockholm, has mothers with an average of 2 children, which is the lowest statistic of this sort in the nation.

Zorn painting sold at record price
A masterpiece by Anders Zorn was sold for 26 million SEK ($3,220,001.94) at an auction—the highest price ever paid for a Swedish painting, and the highest price ever paid for a work of art at a Swedish auction. The title of the water color is “Sommarnöje” (Summer Delight), painted in 1886. “It’s an amazing painting,” said Anna Hamilton, spokesperson at the Stockholms Auktionsverk (Stockholm’s Auction House). Anders Zorn (1860-1920) is one of Sweden’s finest artists. He was internationally known during his lifetime not only as a painter, but also as a sculptor and printmaker. His paintings can be found in a number of museums around the world, not the least in the U.S. The buyer is anonymous, but the painting will remain in Sweden. Prior to the selling of the Zorn painting, the record was held by August Strindberg’s “Underlandet” (“Wonderland), which was sold for 22 million SEK ($2,724,283.76) in the late 1980s. Recently in London, Swedish painter Carl Larsson’s painting, “Esbjörn,” was sold at Sotheby’s for 2 million SEK ($247,629.26). Stockholms Auktionsverk was founded in 1674 and is the world’s oldest auction house.