Monday, April 09, 2007

It's peculiar how some things get reversed here. Like for instance, as noted in the comments of the previous post, that Swedish children dress up as witches and go begging for candy at Eastertime instead of on Hallowe'en (A. the TV producer loves to tell the story of when she was 12 and she was out dressed up as a påskkärring - Easter hag - and she saw on the other side of a copse one of her friends in regular clothes talking to a group of boys and A. suddenly realized she was way too old to be doing this, and she hid behind a rock with her little sister, whom she had forced to go with her). Also, Swedes have an early morning mass on Christmas day, rather like a sunrise service - it does actually take place before the sun rises at 9:30 or so - instead of a midnight mass, which they have on Easter instead.

So there we were, at midnight mass on Saturday night, in which they gave us candles that we lit at the end of the service when it was midnight and Easter had come. Afterwards we stood outside with our candles in the freezing cold drinking cider in little paper cups underneath huge flaming torches in front of the church, the choir singing something I didn't recognize.

In true Swedish fashion, we'd discreetly spiked our cider with little bottles of vodka that someone had handed out at the dinner we'd been to before we went to church, passing one on to our friend the priest, who had been one of the two priests leading the service.

"Usch, that's strong!" she said. "I hope no one can smell it on me."

Then she went and changed into her fancy black dress with the clerical collar, and her fancy black stack-heeled Mary Janes.

I asked her why she didn't wear the shoes during the service. Do vestments and stylish stack-heeled Mary Janes not match? Do stack-heeled Mary Janes send the wrong message? Does God not like stack-heeled Mary Janes, do they make Jesus weep?

"Too dangerous," she said. Those vestments encourage tripping apparently, and high heels only increase the risk. No one wants to end up unintentionally on their knees on those stone floors or worse, while dispensing communion wine accidentally smash the chalice into some poor woman's mouth and chip a tooth.

The Swedish word for the day is bön. It means prayer, and shouldn't be confused with böna, which is a bean.

- by Francis S.

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