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SWEDEN: Traditions and Weddings

posted Oct 23, 2010, 2:12 AM by Diana Rohini LaVigne   [ updated Oct 23, 2010, 2:13 AM ]

By Diana Rohini La Vigne


And soon after Easter, the height of the Swedish wedding season begins.  Whitsun and Midsummer are the most popular times for weddings in Sweden.


And when the flowers are mature, a woman can pick a bouquet of seven or nine different varieties from an equal number of meadows.  If the woman places the bouquet under her pillow, this Swedish tradition promises a woman that she will dream of the one she is destined to marry.  And when the flowers are being selected for the bride's wedding day, she may want to use lavender, thyme, or other piquant herbs.  The strong aromas were used to ward off evil spirits.  The bouquet has significant meaning independently but is part of a larger wedding tradition.  The bride's apparel (crown, veil, dress, bouquet) represent the ancient tradition of viewing the bride as "queen for a day".


 The image of a queen is easy to see.  In several parts of Scandinavia, a bride wears a "Vasa Crown" which is a decorative jeweled cornet that represents a bride's innocence.  The marriage of a bride whose crown has been touched by rain promises to be prosperous and happy!


The groom's attire is also important.  Sewed into the groom's clothing were pomanders of strong-smelling herbs to offset any lingering negative influences.


The engagement begins the makings of a wedding. In a Swedish engagement the couple exchange rings similar to other cultures.  At the wedding ceremony, only the groom offers the bride a second ring leaving the bride with two rings and the groom with only one.


Later the date of the ceremony is set but a few important traditions precede the ceremony in Sweden.  "Reading of the banns" was a tradition that entailed announcing the impending wedding for three consecutive Sundays in church.  Today the tradition is reduced to two announcements.  One announcement at each of the couple's parent’s house.  Some still have the reading done in church on one week.

Sometimes during these weeks, the bride to-be is "kidnapped" by friends, blindfolded, and taken to a party in her honor.  The groom to-be can have a similar fate arranged by his own friends.


The wedding day arrives.  In Sweden, it is not unusual for parenthood to come before marriage.  This gives the couple's children the opportunity to participate in the ceremony if desired.  And of all the marriages in Sweden, one third are civil marriage ceremonies conducted by a senior municipal officer or judge.  Civil marriage ceremonies have been accepted since 1908 in Sweden.  In all types of Swedish weddings, two witnesses are needed and then the ceremony can be completed.


After a full day's wedding celebration, the couple goes to their home.  The newlywed's bed is found in various forms of disarray courtesy of the mother of the bride and/or the friend's of the couple.  Traditionally, these friends will place several extremely uncomfortable objects (example: dried pieces of bread....) between the sheets in order to make it difficult for the couple to enter the bed.  Finally, the couple is able to clean up the mess and rest.


While the newlyweds are resting, another wedding ritual is just getting started.  After the wedding celebrations are over in the early morning hours, some of the male guests go into the forest and cut down a tree.  This tree is called "Bjork" and symbolizes life.  The tree is dragged to the bride's parents yard.


Then the women of the village attempt to cut off the top of the tree.  The women struggle with the men to achieve this task.  After the women succeed cutting off the top of this tree, the men return to the forest to cut down another tree.  The rituals continue and the women continue to cut off the treetops and begin to stack them in a pile in the yard.  It goes on and on.  And in the end, the women have far more success than the men obvious due to the growing stack of treetops that lie in the yard.  This pile represents a prediction that the hand of the bride will always be on top.  This Swedish tradition is called "Malla".


As you can see Sweden is rich with wedding traditions, both new and old.