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Happy Easter Happy Spring, Happy Happy Everything!

This is what my mother Ingrid used to say.  I want to be inclusive of every religion on Planet Earth, in this troubled world that we live in.  Let us all find joy in our lives and try to slow down and smell the flowers of spring! 

Springtime in Sweden is a site to behold.  The winter of 2017/2018 has been a particularly cold and snowy winter all over Europe, especially Scandinavia.  I have spoken to numerous relative and friends over in Sweden to here the various weather reports.  I think the Swedes are ready for spring and all the numerous flower species that blossom starting in April.  I look forward to seeing some of them now on a trip planned in April.  The first blossoms are what is called vitsippa (white anemone) and blåsippa (blue anemone).  They start to grow in the hundreds of thousands in the forests all over Sweden starting this time of year.  Of course there is also påsklijor (daffodills) growing all over the place at Eastertime just like here in the US.  I highly recommend a trip to Sweden in April to see this wonderful explosion of blooms.  If you go up towards the Arctic Circle there is likely to be remnants of snow from the long and dark winter.  

Easter, Påsk in Swedish, is a fascinating holiday in Sweden.  LIttle girls dress up as easter witches and go door to door with easter mail.  They sometimes get Easter candy for their efforts.  Påskkärringar are part of the folklore since ancient times.  People did everything they could to protect themselves and their livestock from evil forces they believed would harm them.  They lit bonfires and would hit themselves with birch twigs or switches to remind them of Christs suffering on the cross.  People in Sweden decorate their homes with branches adorned with feathers to celebrate the holiday.  Påsk was also when witches would gather at a fictitious mountain called Blåkulla, where it was thought they consorted with the devil.  

Walpurgis or Valborgsmäss on April 30 dates back to the Viking Era.  On this night bonfires were lit to scare off evil spirits and sacrifices made.  The name Valborg originates from a Christian saint who was born in the year 710 somewhere in Northern Europe.  Valborg was canonized on April 30.  Her feast day became associated with the Viking spring and fertility celebrations.  Walpurgis night is the sacred union of the god and godess, which is sometimes symbolized with a Maypole on the first of May.  My own parents Lennart and Ingrid got married on the 30th of April.  Many universites in Sweden have large bonfires to welcome spring and say goodbye to winter at the end of April.  Students who are going to graduate wear white caps and sing songs. 

The first of May or Majdagen is a day I myself chose to get married.  I wanted to honor my mother and father by getting married the day after their wedding day.  Our wedding guests danced around a Maypole as part of the wedding festivities.  In Sweden little May flower or Majbloomor pins are handed out out.  These pins originated almost 100 years ago by Mrs Beda Hallberg, a lady who was active in different charities and was looking for something to give back to those who made donations to a particular charity.  

Thanks to all our wonderful customers who continue to come to our store, tell their stories and buy our goods so that we can stay open!

Enjoy the spring!
Maria and Hans Jönsson, Tessa, Jeanne, and Kerstin (in Sweden)  The GIft Box crew       
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