Glad Påsk!

The Protestant/Catholic and the Orthodox Easter didn’t coincide this year, so contrary to Bulgarian tradition I dyed eggs a week earlier than my family. It turned out pretty well: if you boil them in separate batches in small pots, barely any eggs crack (we had 1 out of 30). The dyes bought from Riga turned out perfect and the candle waxing method I introduced from the roots of Bulgarian tradition was a spectacular success. The art of masterful egg knocking was demonstrated and a lot of eggs were eaten.

This, of course, is a reflection on the international student circles in Uppsala. Egg dying does not seem to be a part of the Swedish spirit of Påsk (therefore we needed to stock up on the dyes in Riga). However, I have seen coloured feathers on branches at the front of people’s houses and I have heard of children going from door to door asking for candy in exchange for their drawings. Påskmust (which tastes exactly as Julmust, the traditional Christmas drink, which resembles coke with a hint of coffee and something indistinguishable) fills up the supermarkets and stands honourably on my desk.

However, something felt mighty wrong about this Easter: the weather. Although it is weeks since I discarded my hot water bottle in the bottom of some drawer (I still remember one day in January (or was it a couple of times?) when I took it underneath my coat to warm me up on the long walk to BMC so that I wouldn’t freeze), I must admit I was struck by the cold waves raiding when you least expect it. I was fooled twice by a couple of sunny 11°-warm days, thinking that spring is coming only to be struck by hail and snow and more than a week of cold gloom.

A Bulgarian tradition is to make martenitsa-s (bracelets made of red and white thread) and give them away to friends and family on the 1st of March. They are to protect your healh for the last of the winter days, so you must keep them until you see the sign of srping in the form of a blooming tree. Then you should tie it on a branch of this tree. Usually in Bulgaria you wear them until around the 20th of March: it’s easy to find blooming trees around then. In Edinburgh it took slightly longer, I think, but the martenitsa that arrived in my mailbox in Uppsala in the beginning of March is definitely the one I have worn the longest. Spring is more elusive here.

All of this is not to say that Sweden is frigid, but rather that one can never know what is to come in Sweden. A veteran Swede told me that some years ago it even snowed on Valborg. Still, the 8°C outside and an annoying fly in my room say that spring can’t be too far. Until than, the martenitsa will stay on my wrist.

Categories: Uppsala

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