Sweden Folklore

Sweden Ethnography and Folklore

The population of the wooded and mountain districts of the center and north has, until recently, conquered the soil for agriculture with primitive means, burning the forest and working the land with the hoe. We should therefore not be surprised to find still in use archaic nail plows, harrows made with branches of bushes and rough tools for threshing, although since the century. XVIII agricultural machinery was adopted in the most advanced districts of the south. And still in the mountains the animals of prey and fur, bears, wolves, lynxes, are captured with traps, snares and other means, generally used only by still primitive peoples. Responds to this state of affairs the habit of using shelters and white clothes for a kind of masking in winter hunts on the snow or of using cane whistles for hunting birds. Fishing is also very important, for which pots, labyrinths and nets are used. In spring, numerous herbs, tree buds and even the inner bark are consumed, and only the oat bread is prepared in thin biscuits, while the other cereals are consumed by the farmers rather in the form of polenta. Even in the cities bread with leavened dough is rarely made, and white bread is still considered, as in ancient times, a kind of festive food. The nourishment is substantially complemented by milk and its derivatives, meat and fish. Furthermore, the Swedes are very adept at condensing milk and keeping it like that for months.

The mountain districts are used above all for breeding, which is centered on solid truss constructions, which correspond to the alpine huts. The buildings used for housing, stables, granaries and for the conservation of dairy products, are separate, but arranged so as to form two courtyards, one internal, for housing, and one external for livestock. In Dalecarlia we still find an open hearth in the center of the kitchen and an entrance generally with compartments on the type of old Nordic style atrium houses. Here, as in the huts of the woodcutters, the benches or partitions for beds, similar to cabins of ships, and the decoration of the dividing pillars and other elements with horse heads and such, reveal the persistence of mythical representations typical of antiquity. Nordic. In a later period the rooms were decorated with artistic wooden coatings and conspicuous paintings. Some alpine regions, eg. the Dalecarlia, distinguished themselves as other Alpine towns for a particular art of a home character, which gave rise to entire families of painters. Since the Middle Ages, the custom of decorating the room with woven or painted tapestries on feast days has perpetuated. Here the cultivation of flax still thrives, and even the wool is diligently processed. Finely carved cones, bowls for linen and richly decorated tablets for rolling linen were the usual homages of love; the museums of Sweden contain large copies of them. The very advanced state of agriculture in the southern districts contrasts with these customs. Instead of isolated farms, here we find villages built around round squares, a common type in Denmark. In the district of Stockholm or the old royal city of Upsala, villages have sprung up along the axis of a road, similar to those of Central Europe. Today the farmer lives equipped with agricultural machinery, car, telephone and radio, as in a stately farm and even the peasant house has a petty-bourgeois character. The various farm constructions here tend to form a rectangle and those of Scania form a perfectly quadrangular courtyard. Timber and masonry construction is common in Scania. In the northern part the buildings used as dwellings are generally of beams, a more solid and warmer type of construction.

In the regions of middle and northern Sweden there is commonly an unheated entrance with a chamber at the bottom and heated rooms on either side. In the south there is a large common room, kitchen and living room at the same time, and special buildings are intended for guests, for the work on the farm and for housing. There have also been introduced ceramic or cast iron tile stoves of the type used in Lower Germany, but we are generally satisfied with Peisöfen, in the shape of a fireplace, which is sometimes joined by a bread oven. Also in use are bathrooms and drying rooms and steam rooms. Women still have some household activity in the textile sector. In addition to tapestries, blankets decorated with old motifs are woven; In addition to embroidery, the monastic schools also spread bobbin lace. A shrewd organization made it possible to transform this activity into a kind of industrial art and to develop it; also the skill revealed by the male youth in the working of the bark and the wood, in the wooden sculpture is very well cared for. It has also succeeded, after conscientiously elevating and fixing the type of folk dance, song and folk music, to teach Swedish youth music, dance and old-fashioned games, with their ancient costumes. Much of the country’s customs are maintained there only through this attempt at renewal. By style they belong to the century. XVIII and have undergone many regional variations. In the southern regions it seems that military traditions have influenced the cutting of men’s shirts; more commonly, bourgeois-type garments are used, such as short trousers in light or dark leather, or in cloth, with which red waistcoats and short or long jackets of cloth or white wool are worn, socks and shoes with buckles; The cloth caps and pointed caps and leather aprons (reminiscent of those of artisans) used in some districts belong to old shapes. or in cloth, with which red waistcoats and short or long jackets of cloth or white wool are worn, socks and shoes with buckles; The cloth caps and pointed caps and leather aprons (reminiscent of those of artisans) used in some districts belong to old shapes. or in cloth, with which red waistcoats and short or long jackets of cloth or white wool are worn, socks and shoes with buckles; The cloth caps and pointed caps and leather aprons (reminiscent of those of artisans) used in some districts belong to old shapes.

The feminine garments include pleated skirts with close-fitting bodices of local fabrics in various colors. The aprons are in striped home fabric or decorated with embroidered edges. The white handkerchiefs are decorated with archaic geometric motifs (Dalecarlia, Leksand). Antique-style pointed cloth caps characterize the girl’s festive costume. The peasants keep real treasures made up of wedding jewels: belts, wedding crowns, brooches, etc., in filigree or embossed. In the southern provinces until recently, white coats or aprons made of linen cloth were in use, perpetuating a medieval use.

The great youth festivals, dedicated to dances and games, continue ancient popular traditions: in spring the date of May 1st is particularly celebrated outdoors; the other festivals, as elsewhere, are gradually losing importance. May trees, decorated with garlands and ribbons, are still widespread. The use of green Christmas branches has also been maintained: the German Christmas tree was introduced only at the beginning of the century. XIX in the bourgeois circles of the southern provinces and in the capital. Masked processions in autumn and winter are formed, probably following the German example, only in the southern provinces. With the straw of the last sheaves puppets with human or animal appearance are formed and there is also the ancient custom of secretly throwing in the nocturnal darkness inside the houses the Christmas gifts hidden in bulky packages. The old dances of youth feasts and wedding ceremonies, put back in honor, are largely derived from the society dances of the century. XVIII, from quadrille or polka steps. Alongside them, however, there are popularizing forms, of a mimic character; young people practice gymnastic dances and girotondi and figurative dances respond to medieval dances. Peasant weddings are still regulated by a complicated ceremonial. Young people and girls greet the bridegroom and bride with songs, dances and it is also customary to raise them in the air. A ceremonial director must not be missing at the ceremony and some of them keep entire collections of garters that are removed from the bride before handing them over to the groom.

In Sweden, from about 1800, large collections of popular traditions have been made. In the beginning the interest turned almost exclusively to medieval ballads, many of which were preserved in the popular tradition until the middle of the century. XIX. These ballads, very inaccurately called folkvisor (folk songs), are of the same genre as the Danish folkevisers (see denmark: Literature). The homeland of these ballads is undoubtedly primarily Denmark, but they spread throughout Scandinavia, which was favored by the very small difference between the Scandinavian languages ​​in the Middle Ages and the political union of the Scandinavian countries in the period 1319- 1520. The songs most often sung by the people in the nineteenth century were of a completely different kind than the ballads and spread literally through the skilliogtryck (printed sheets sold by itinerant merciaiuoli).

Among the popular accounts, the fantastic ones are the most interesting, because they belong to a tradition common to all Indo-Europeans and therefore are often very ancient. Many Swedish accounts (eg numbers 300, 303, 313, 314, 425, 428 and others in A. Aarne’s Types of the folktale) postulate a very ancient tradition in the Swedish domain without any literary influence; other types have come to Sweden in more recent times than oral transmission. Tradition has also been influenced literally especially by folkböcker (popular books). Some of these popular books have an international character, p. ex. Helen of Constantinople, the Emperor OctavianGesta Romanorum, etc.; however most of them are translations of well-known authors such as Petrarch, Perrault, d’Aulnoy, Grimm, etc. One part is made up of semi-literary revisions of Swedish accounts; thus, for example, Lunkentus, a Swedish reworking of the Aarne 301 type and reprinted many times from 1785 onwards; reworking that seems to have supplanted the original type in Sweden, which must have had a tradition in Sweden as rich as in Norway and Denmark, where the printed account of Lunkentus it did not have the same diffusion. The tradition of the fantastic accounts, which was rich in the past, is now in decline in Sweden due to the increased reading of printed books by the popular classes, especially in comparison with the joke stories, which still live in large numbers in the people.

The tradition of the sagas is extraordinarily rich. Among the historical sagas, almost always connected to certain localities, the attsaga (long traditional tales concerning given families) deserves the attention of scientists in a high degree. Only in a few places have these sagas been able to be born and live in the tradition, which for the people themselves has a very close local interest, but they have been found in some parishes in Sweden and Norway. They are noteworthy in that the celebrated Icelandic sagas must have originated in exactly the same way before they received their final literary form.

Among the most fantastic sagas, the testimonial or fabulous sagas, a large group concerns supernatural beings and is closely related to popular superstition. Among these beings, the trolls (gnomes or demonic residents of the mountains and of the interior of the Earth) deserve to be mentioned first of all. There has been a mistaken attempt to explain them as dead or nature spirits, or even as memories of ancient peoples. The belief in trolls is certainly connected with hallucinations of various sorts and with etiological explanations of certain phenomena. First, the belief in bortbytingar (children changed by fairies, witches, etc.), which exists throughout Europe, has played a major role in the formation of the belief in trolls. The idea of bortbytingar is partly caused by tormenting dreams: the woman, after the birth of her child, saw terrifying beings in a dream attempt to kidnap her child, and could not distinguish between the dream and reality. The same idea is partly caused by idiotic children, who have been deemed to be children of trolls left in exchange for real children.

Among other supernatural entities, the skogsrå and the neck or bäckahäst (sea horse) must also be mentioned. The skogsrå is a female being with an erotic character, a kind of succubus, who lives in the forests, where he makes men take the wrong path, which he tries to seduce; but sometimes it also helps hunters and charcoal burners; it is a being analogous to the nymphs of antiquity, and also, up to a certain point, to Artemis. The neck is an aquatic being. who presents himself now in the form of a man now in the form of a horse and attempts to kidnap women or drown men. The sagas on the neck they are almost identical to the ancient myths about Pegasus, the Centaurs and Posidon, but they cannot be explained by the influence of classical mythology: they must go back to common Indo-European traditions of the Neolithic age. For Sweden 2005, please check ehealthfacts.org.

Regarding the folk beliefs about diseases, it should be noted that the belief in the evil eye is missing. Even if there are some similar ideas, they have very little importance in the tradition and have no relation whatsoever to Mediterranean ideas in this regard. Instead, illnesses and injuries are often explained as being caused by people who are malicious through witchcraft; another group of diseases is believed to be caused by supernatural beings. Thus, rheumatic pains are often explained by encounters with a ghost, with a dead person; mental illnesses with the action of trollsskogsråneck ; children’s illnesses are often explained by the work of trolls, but much more often it is believed that the mother during pregnancy was afraid of something or saw something harmful (eg, cleft lip is due to seeing a hare, epilepsy to seeing slaughter of an animal, etc.). Just as illnesses are explained by hexes and other supernatural influences, so also attempts are made to cure them by magical means, ordained by the so-called “sages”, who have a rich occult tradition and sometimes even great experience and solid instinctive judgment.

Among the magical traditions we should mention the magic formulas, often of great antiquity; Germanic formula of Merseburg is, eg., generally widespread in Sweden, often with its pagan form in which and mentioned the Germanic god Odin.

History of studies. – The first collection of folk songs, by EG Geijer and AA Afrelius (Svenska folkvisor, 1814-1816) made a great impression in the literary spheres and incited further collections. In 1834-42 AJ Arwidsson published the Svenska fornsånger (Old Swedish Songs), mostly taken from old manuscripts of songs written by Swedish ladies of the century. XVII; and thus gave Svend Grundtvig the idea of ​​publishing his famous Danmarks gamle Folkeviser (The Ancient Folk Songs of Denmark). Around 1840, the largest collector of folkloric material in Sweden, GO Hyltén-Cavallius, began to collect material of all kinds. From 1844 to 1849 he published, in collaboration with the Englishman G. Stephens, Svenska folksagor och äfventyr (Swedish Folk and Adventure Accounts, Stockholm) which mainly contains fantastic accounts; however, most of his collections have remained unpublished. His account collector work was continued by G. Djurklou, PA Säve, A. Bondeson, Eva Wigström and others; furthermore, the societies for the study of Swedish dialects at the universities of Upsala and Lund have collected not only dialect words, but also traditions of all sorts.

Finally, a good selection of Swedish folk books was published by PO Bäckström (Svenska folkböcker, Stockholm 1845-1848).

Since 1912, folklore has been an autonomous discipline in Swedish universities.

Sweden Folklore