March 25: Lady Day, in Sweden Waffle Day, which traditionally celebrates Archangel Gabriel's announcement of the birth of Jesus.
A våffla (waffle) is a batter-based cake cooked in a waffle iron, patterned to give it its distinctive and characteristic shape.
In Sweden the våffla has its very own day, Våffeldagen, even though it’s only due to a simple mistake. Jungfru Marie bebådelsedag (Lady Day in English) is celebrated on March 25, nine months before Christmas to celebrate when the angel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). Jungfru Marie bebådelsedag used to be a holy day in Sweden and it used to be called “vårfrudagen” (Our Lady Day) and “vårfru” quickly became “våffla” in popular speech, giving way to the wonderful tradition of spending an entire day eating våfflor with jam and whipped cream!
Våfflor have been eaten since the Middle Ages, when they were made over an open fire. The first waffles were square but with the same pattern we have today. The heart-shaped Swedish waffle was born at the end of the 1800’s. In the beginning of the 1900’s eating waffles with whipped cream and jam was something you did on Sundays following a long walk. In those days there were special “våffelstugor” around. If you want to make traditional Swedish waffles, which are much thinner and crispier than Belgian waffles and regular American waffles, you will need a våffeljärn.
Swedish waffles (Svenska våfflor)
1 cup 2 oz flour
7 oz cold water
1 cup 2 oz heavy cream
4 Tablespoons melted butter
Pinch of salt
Mix the flour, the salt and the water to an even batter. Whip the cream and fold into the batter. Stir in the melted butter, and pour the mix on the griddle.
Serve with jam of your choice and whipped cream.
Våffeljärn, waffle irons can be found at several Scandinavian specialty stores or at for instance JC Penney, Williams & Sonoma, Target and a variety of other stores. (Ask for a Belgian Waffle Iron - and yes, the Swedish waffle is only distantly related to the Belgian but, US retailers call the appropriate irons 'Belgian' nevertheless)
No, Archangel Gabriel did not give Mary waffles. The reason Swedes eat waffles on Lady Day is a simple mistake. "Vårfru" (Our Lady) became "våffla" (pronounced vofflau - short open a-sound in the end) in popular speech. And Lady Day is now known in Sweden as Våffeldagen instead of Vårfrudagen.