Traditional Christmas at the Castle.
What kind of Christmas is celebrated at the Swedish royal family? Svensk Damtidning reports that the Queen’s food traditions are in focus. Silvia wants her Weihnachtsstollen (a traditional German loaf shaped fruitcake drenched in brandy and powdered with confectioner’s sugar), which she likes to have along with black Brazilian coffee. The Queen is always a bit of the center of activity around Christmas, as her birthday falls on the 23rd of December. On Christmas Eve the family feasts on good food, after which the Queen reads out loud from the Christmas gospel. Crown princess Victoria’s favorite is the lutfisk, and princess Madeleine likes to gorge on oysters, lobster and champagne. “To go out and get a Christmas tree, and to decorate it and light candles,” says the Queen is the most important way to create the right Christmas atmosphere. “And a little bit of snow doesn’t hurt.” The King wants to put the merry back into Christmas, since there wasn’t much of that when he grew up. In those days, a royal Christmas was a strict affaire, with little room for improvisation. The children had to stand in straight rows outside the room where the gifts were waiting, and nobody were allowed in until King Gustav V rang his silver bell at 4:30. The gifts were spread out on a table, but they weren’t wrapped. The early 1950’s saw an increase in the spirits, when a jultomte (Santa) was allowed in, and hiding under the red coat and the fake white beard was usually prince Bertil. There hasn’t been a jultomte at the castle for years now, but who knows, with so many weddings coming up (both Crown princess Victoria and princess Madeleine are getting married next year), it might be time to soon return to that tradition?

The Swedish Christmas tree.
When do you put up the Christmas tree? How do you decorate it? The tradition of having a tree for Christmas came to Sweden from Germany some time during the 15th century. At first the Swedes were satisfied with just a few branches as decoration, but in time the entire tree was brought in, just as in Germany. According to reports, the first tree in Sweden was up in 1741, but it wasn’t until the early 1900’s that the tradition spread from the mansions to farms and simpler houses. The trees then were usually small enough to be put in a pot or on top of a table. The first Swedish Christmas trees were decorated with candles, fruit and candy. Apples were put in the tree, to pull down the branches a bit so that the candles would not fall over. Little by little families began making their own Christmas decorations out of paper and straw. From around 1880, Christmas decorations were sold in stores in the bigger Swedish cities, most of them were imported from Germany. The tradition to decorate the home with branches and leaves is a very old one and not expressly for Christmas (twigs are brought in for Easter, leaves are usually used as decoration for summer weddings and so on) – branches, leaves, and twigs were thought to ward off evil spirits. Most Christmas trees sold in Sweden are of the kind Norway spruce or European Silver Fir.

Lund has the best Swedish University.
Lund University is the best Swedish university according to a list of the best universities in the world. Times Higher Education lists the top 200 universities in the world, and Lund University can be found on an honored 67th spot, Uppsala University on 75th, KTH Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan on 174th, Göteborgs University on 185th, and Chalmers Tekniska Högskola on 198th. “It’s a great feeling,” says Eva Åkesson, prorector at Lund University. “Especially since this list is built on a vote by university colleagues from all over the world.” Åkesson adds that Lund’s placement also has to do with a new international venture. “We have the highest number of foreign students applying among all universities in Sweden.” Notable people who have been affiliated with Lund University either as students or academics include: Esaias Tegnér, Tage Erlander, Sten Broman, Hasse Alfredson, and Ingvar Carlsson. The five universities that top Times Higher Education’s list are: 1. Harvard University 2. University of Cambridge 3.Yale University 4. University College London 5. Imperial College London.

More Ingmar Bergman.
Ingmar Bergman’s life will now turn into a made-for TV drama series. SVT (Sveriges Television) reports that it is Henning Mankell (the famous Swedish crime writer and dramatist) who will pen the script. That Mankell is also married to Bergman’s daughter Eva, helps of course. “I look forward to a story with great width both in time and room,” Mankell said. “I have about 90 pages written already. What fascinates me is the price Bergman paid for his uncompromising creativity, which put so much else in his life in the shade. I spent a lot of time with him during his last ten years. I believe I spent more time with him than anyone else did. This series will show how Bergman, in spite of his nine children, was an extremely lonely man.” Earlier this year, SVT showed an unflattering documentary about the great director, called “Hushållerskan” (The Housekeeper), with a script by Bergman’s housekeeper Anita Haglöf. “My film looks nothing like that,” Mankell says. The series will be in four 1-hour parts and it will premiere in 2012, director and actors are not yet known or chosen. “It’s one of the biggest bids in the history of Swedish television,” says Eva Hamilton at SVT.