The Easter tradition of decorating birch twigs with coloured feathers and other small Easter decorations in Sweden date back to the 19th century. But the actual birch twigs Easter tradition originates from a 16th century custom in Sweden where people used to whip each other with birch twigs, either on Shrove/Fat Tuesday or Good Friday morning. They whipped each other as a symbolic gesture to remind themselves of the suffering that Jesus Christ went through.
Over time the symbolic whipping with birch twigs evolved into a game where also children could whip their parents. The simple rules of this game were that the one who woke up first in the morning surprised the rest of the family with a playful whipping. Today, probably because the two types of birch twig traditions were so similar, we do not distinguish between them anymore. In fact, I would say that that the birch twigs tradition that has survived is the Easter one - where we decorate birch twigs with coloured feathers and other small Easter decorations for Easter.
Though I have not decorated at all for Easter this year, I have seen some very nice Easter decorations when I have been out and about. So below are some photos of Easter decorations I have encountered here in Karlskrona/Lyckeby in Sweden. :-)
Easter shopping. Already decorated birch twigs for sale on the Great Square in Karlskrona City. :-)
Easter birch twigs.
More colourful Easter decorated birch twigs.
Now this I had not seen before! Two trees decorated with giant eggs in the middle of Karlskrona City.
A fun initiative indeed.
Looked quite nice actually.
Like I said, giant eggs. Lol!
And this is a cute Easter decorated tree Lisen and I saw recently here in Lyckeby.
So even though I have not put up any Easter decoration myself this year, I certainly have had the opportunity to enjoy plenty of those anyway. Which is quite nice. And it will be even nicer to have a long weekend off now here at home with my doggy Lisen after my first, busy with long days, week at my new job in Karlshamn. We both wish you all a Happy Easter Weekend! :-)
One of the most popular posts on this blog, where I continually get a lot of traffic to from search engines, is Food And Gas Prices In Sweden Today. And because I published that post about one year ago (on August 11, 2011) I thought it was time for a post with an update of the current food and gas prices in Sweden. So today I went to the local supermarket CityGross again here in Karlskrona in Sweden, the same supermarket I checked food prices in last year, to see if any food prices had changed since then - which they had. In fact, when I compared the same food items I checked last year with how much they cost today, most of them had become more expensive. However, some had also become cheaper.
The Swedish supermarket CityGross here in Karlskrona in Sweden, where I checked food prices today.
And the JET gas station here in Lyckeby in Sweden, where I checked today's gas prices.
Now the JET gas station is also the same gas station where I got my gas price information in last year's post. And, like most of the Swedish food prices, the gas price had also increased since last year. Though I do think gas has become more expensive all over the world, but I am not sure about food prices?
Anyway, below are the lists of the complete Update On Current Food And Gas Prices In Sweden today. The food prices are from well known Swedish and international brands, just like last year. And today's gas prices are gathered from the same sources as last year as well. The prices in the lists are listed in Swedish Kronas, SEK, and US Dollars, USD. Also, because of the slight change in the USD currency since last year the price increases and decreases look a bit different between SEK and USD.
Explanations: kg = kilograms, g = grams, (Swe) = Swedish origin, (-/+) = change since last year
Now the food items I have chosen here are some basic household items, which can of course be found cheaper - as well as more expensive, both in other supermarkets and in CityGross. It all depends on what type of quality of food you prefer to buy. But these prices are a kind of average, not the most expensive - but not the cheapest brands or meat either. The currency comparison is also just to give an idea of the prices in USD. So in case you are coming to Sweden for a visit and/or plan to buy groceries here, I hope this post gives an idea of how much food and gas cost in Sweden today. And hopefully it is not as expensive as Swedish prices are rumored to be. ;-)
Swedish strawberries are only sold between June and August every year in Sweden. So every year when I see that Swedish strawberries are available to buy again, it, to me, means that the Swedish summer finally has arrived! Yay!
And here they are, my first Swedish strawberry purchase of the year! :p
Now in Sweden we have a tradition called Midsummer Eve when we, among other things, always eat Swedish strawberry cake as part of the Midsummer Eve celebration meal. Therefore it is vital that Swedish strawberries are available to buy for Midsummer Eve, which falls on June 22nd this year. Because if they are not, well - Midsummer Eve is ruined!
It is true. There have been years when the strawberry season has been bad or delayed due to weather conditions, and during those years the price for Swedish strawberries has gone through the roof before Midsummer Eve. That is how important they are here in Sweden. Though this year it seems like the Swedish strawberry season has had a good start. Although I do think the price for one liter of Swedish strawberries is a bit high right now, here in Karlskrona anyway. One liter of Swedish strawberries cost between 40-45 Swedish Kronas, which is about 5.50 - 6.50 US Dollars (currency today 1 USD = 7.1 SEK). A price I am sure will drop to about half that, or less, after Midsummer Eve though.
However, despite the high price and even though the proper and traditional thing would be to wait with the Swedish strawberry premiere until our traditional Midsummer Eve celebration - I am simply not that patient. Lol! Therefore I had my Swedish strawberry premiere this weekend.
When I had these newly picked, sweet, juicy and amazingly delicious Swedish strawberries with ice cream and whipped cream. So yuuuuummylicious!!! :p
Now I will just have to try to restrain myself until Midsummer Eve for my next big Swedish strawberry feast, though I doubt I can wait that long... Hehe. ;p
Something I can certainly vouch for. In fact, I read in the news recently that in Sweden we eat about 11.5 liters of ice cream per person per year. Only Finns eat more ice cream than us in Europe. On the other hand, we only eat half as much ice cream as the Americans. Either way, I must admit that I can indeed relate to these statistics, because I do love ice cream! Especially during warm lovely summer days, like today. Which is why I, instead of lunch today, went into town here in Karlskrona and got in line to buy ice cream from our most popular ice cream shop here in Karlskrona in Sweden, Glassiären.
Here I am in line to buy ice cream at Glassiären today.
Now the ice cream shop Glassiären is only open during the summer season and is popular mainly because of the HUGE ice cream's they serve. One scoop there is actually about four scoops. Which is why you don't order "one scoop" but "one flavor" of ice cream.
The ice cream menu at Glassiären.
The ice cream flavors at Galssiären.
And my ice cream!!! Flavors I chose: salt licorice, caramel/marshmallow and pistachio, topped with soft ice cream. However, I did not eat that monster ice cream myself though. I shared it with my lovely mum. :p
I also thought I share a few other facts about Sweden and ice cream:
Sweden's first ice cream factory was founded in 1934 by the Milk Central in Stockholm. However, the big breakthrough for ice cream on a stick in Sweden came during the hot summer of 1955.
- The total Swedish ice cream sales were estimated to reach 97.9 million liters in 2010, according to Swedish Board of Agriculture.
- And below are stats over how much ice cream some other European countries eat every year. The stats are in terms of liters per capita per year (2009):
Now, it is a good thing for me that I have only started to work on my estimated ice cream quota per year. Because that means that I have many more delicious cold treats to look forward to devour this summer. Yuuuummm!!! I can't wait to continue to represent these statistics. :p
In this post I will write a bit about how the health care system in Sweden works. I will also give examples of how much it can cost to visit a doctor at a local health care clinic or hospital emergency room, buy medicine and other health care related costs.
Our local health care clinic, pharmacy and dental care clinic here in Lyckeby in Sweden.
Now the health care services in Sweden are mostly funded by county and local community taxes. So the fee we pay, for example, for a doctor's appointment is just a small part of what it actually costs. Each county in Sweden decides what fees to charge for the health care services it offers. But overall, most fees are quite similar in the different counties. The fees are also the same at the county's own health care clinics as they are at private clinics of which the county has an agreement with.
Furthermore, most counties offer free health care to children and adolescents up to their 19th birthday. But again, each county decides which age limit should apply for free health care in it. For example, in Örebro county the age limit for free health care is 25 years old, whereas in Stockholm county the age limit is 18. Örebro county also offers free contraceptives for everyone up to 25 years old.
Some other health care services that are always free, no matter where you live in Sweden or how old you are, are school health services and vaccinations offered at schools. Prenatal care and visits to maternity and child health care clinics are also free. As are health care and medication needed for treatment for a so-called public health hazard according to the Communicable Disease Act.
Examples Of Patient Fees For Adults In Sweden 2012
There are of course patient fees for most health care related visits and treatments in Sweden when you are an adult though. So below are some examples of how much it can cost for an adult to visit a doctor at a local health care clinic or emergency room at a hospital. The fees below apply for each county's own clinics and private clinics of which the county has an agreement with. Entirely private health care clinics may have different fees.
Prices are listed in Swedish Kronas, SEK, and US Dollars, USD.
Currency today: 1 USD = 7.1 SEK
- A doctor's appointment at a health care clinic costs about 150 - 250 SEK or21 - 35 USD.
- A visit to a hospital emergency room costs about 200 - 380 SEK or28 - 53 USD.
- Admission to a hospital costs a maximum of 80 SEK or11 USD per treatment day.
- Some counties charge a fee for transportation by ambulance or helicopter, whereas it is free in others.
- Mammography for early detection of breast cancer and smear examination of the cervix, a so called gynecological health control, can cost up to 200 SEK or 28 USD. But if you live in Stockholm for example, mammography is free if you have been called from the county for a check up.
- Some health care clinics reimburse the visit fee if you have had to wait a more than a certain amount of time from when you had your appointment. In Stockholm for example, the limit is 30 minutes.
High-Cost Protection And Free Pass
Although some health care is free, medicine prescribed during these visits are not. However, there is a limit for how much you will have to pay for prescribed medicine, health care, medical travels and technological tools per each twelve month period in Sweden. This is called the high-cost protection. Also here each county decides its ceiling costs, but they are roughly the same in all counties.
- For example, the high-cost protection for health care, medical care and some dental care is roughly 1100 SEK or154 USD per twelve month period. Which means that if your first doctor's appointment was on May 1st, 2012, and you reach 1100 SEK in medical care costs by September 1st, 2012, you will not have to pay for any more medical visits until after May 1st, 2013. You get a so called free pass for the rest of that twelve month period. This principal also apply to the other high-cost protection areas.
- The high-cost protection for medicine prescribed by doctors, nurses or other authorized health care personnel is roughly 2 200 SEK or308 USD per twelve month period. (Non prescription medicine is not included in high-cost protection.)
- The high-cost protection for medical travels is roughly 1400 SEK or196 USD per twelve month period. (Medical travels means trips between your home and a caregiver, such as physician, physiotherapist, dentist or counselor. All medical travel is based on a medical assessment. The health care provider decides if you qualify for medical travel.)
- The high-cost protection for technological tools is roughly 2000 SEK or280 USD.
Even though you cannot add medical care costs and prescription medicine costs under one high-cost protection area, children and adolescents who are under 18 years old and belong to the same family share high-cost protection. This means that the fees for all children in the family are counted under the same high-cost protection area. For example, if a family has three children and two have needed prescribed medicine where the cost adds up to more than 2000 SEK or 280 USD within a twelve month period, all three children will receive free prescribed medicine for the rest of that twelve month period.
Health Care For Foreign Citizens While Visiting Sweden
So I have written a bit about how the health care system works if you are a Swedish citizen, but of course foreign citizens are also entitled to emergency care in Sweden. However, not the same rules apply.
Although, if you come from another EU/EEA country and have a European Health Card, you pay the same fee for emergency and necessary care as citizens registered in the county you are visiting. Without a European Health Card, you pay the entire cost yourself. For instance, a visit to a doctor at a local health care center will cost about 1700 SEK or238 USD and a visit to an emergency room at a hospital will cost about 2100 SEK or294 USD in Sweden.
Also, Sweden has an agreement, a convention, with a number of countries and provinces outside the EU. So depending on which country and region you come from, different rules apply. Read more about which rules apply to you at -->vardguiden.
Now there are of course many more aspects to how the health care system in Sweden works, but my intention with this post was to give a rough idea of its basics. However, I feel that I should also mention that even though our health care system and patient fees are pretty affordable here in Sweden, there are constant discussions and debates regarding how well the Swedish health care system actually care for its patients. But that is an entirely different post. Either way, I do indeed appreciate the health care system we have here in Sweden - even though it might not be a perfect.
Crisp bread originates from Sweden and was first baked around the 500s. Crisp bread quickly became popular because people back then needed a sustainable bread that was easy to store for long, cold winters. And because crisp bread contains less than 10 percent water, its durability is very good.
Now crisp bread is a hard bread traditionally baked with whole grain rye flour, both coarse and fine. It is rolled out into thin, flat cakes and then baked in high heat for a short time. In the olden days, after the bread had been baked, they used to hang them out to dry in the ceiling.
And to be able to hang them, holes were put in the middle of the crisp bread.
Although it is of course possible to bake crisp bread at home, most people do buy them in stores today.
So there are many variations of crisp bread available in Swedish stores.
In many shapes and sizes.
So crisp bread is popular in Sweden. In fact, we eat nearly four kilos of crisp bread per person per year in Sweden. And 85 percent of Swedish households always have crisp bread at home. At typical Swedish holidays like Christmas and Midsummer, crisp bread is one of the typical Swedish foods we eat.
Popular spreads to have on crisp bread are typical swedish products like Kalles Caviar (in the photo) and pickled herring. But to simply eat crisp bread with butter is also very tasty and popular as well.
Now I actually do not eat crisp bread very often, but I do like it and I always have some at home. Because to me, it is really one of those given things to have in my kitchen cupboards, like flour or sugar. Which is why it should always be there, just in case I need some. :-)
In Sweden Summer Time, or Daylight Savings Time, begins today AND we also celebrate Waffle Day today. So it is a double day you could say. And although I love waffles, I am not a big fan of turning the clock forward one hour. Because somehow I always feel like I fall behind with everything during this period of the year. Plus, due to the fact that I am not a morning person - it makes waking up early in the mornings even more difficult than usual for me during Daylight Savings Time.
However, I must say that the celebration of Waffle Day today does make it a little bit easier to change the clocks - a tiny, tiny bit. And I have of course eaten waffles today, even though I did get a bit over excited and ate way too many! So actually I do not feel too good at the moment...
But, these waffles were definitely worth a bit of a Waffle Hangover afterwards. Hehe. :p