New Year celebrations in Sweden are a blend of the old and the new, with ancient pagan traditions hand in hand with more recent introductions from German traders or the Protestant church.
Since 1895 the New Year Swedes have crossed over into a new year to the sound of bells from the open air museum Skansen in Stockholm. Nowadays the event is broadcasted live on TV and a solemn poem (actually by Alfred Lord Tennyson – “Ring Out, Wild Bells” or “Nyårsklockan” in Swedish) is read to the nation.
The tradition of noisemaking and fireworks probably goes back to ancient times, when noise and fire were used to ward off evil spirits and invite good luck for the new year – the gunfire and shouting of old has given way to fireworks and cheering today. Swedes, like many other nations, make and break New Year’s resolutions (Nyårslöfte), though the Babylonians are thought to have been the originators of this tradition.
The transition point from old to new year was thought to be a magical time, a time for trying to predict the future. Swedes would put lead into water and interpret the shapes produced by the moulds, or toss shoes. A shoe landing with the toe pointing towards the door signified someone would leave, or perhaps even die, during the coming year.
New Year’s Day itself was a symbol for the year to come. It was considered unlucky to carry things out of the house (which signified casting happiness out of your home) and good weather was a positive omen for the coming year.
Whatever your plans for New Year, Nature Travels would like to wish a happy, successful and planet-friendly 2007, and the very best of luck with your New Year’s resolutions!
The Nature Travels Team