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Författare Ämne: A Christmas question, my family comes from smaland and varmland  (läst 230 gånger)

2018-12-20, 19:43
läst 230 gånger

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  I am trying to track down our Swedish Christmas traditions. I have written a story and most of it I understand where is comes from.  Swedes typically celebrate Christmas eve, and Santa comes that night, all different than tradition American Christmas’. We also have Dopp i Gytan, which I can find some referenences to  everywhere.
 
The part I cant find mention of anywhere is as I describe in my story;
 
Dopp i Grytan is our traditional Swedish Christmas dinner. It is a sparse course, consisting of pork and or veal boiled into making lots of broth. The traditional rye bread was solely served and in early days, the only other thing I remember in the table was celery sticks filled with cream cheese. As time went on, a salad and black olives were added. Eventually, today there are different types of breads and cheeses available, a little less sparse then original, but surprisingly still close. When dinner was ready, we would all sit around the table in the same seats for every year I can remember. My father would say let’s start, and we would sing a chant
Jul rar jul igen
Jul rar jul igen
dopp i grytan
dopp i grytan

We would all get up, singing, and go into the kitchen, get a plate and a piece of bread, and take a ladle of the dopp i gytan, or meat broth, onto the bread and go back to the table. When everyone was seated, we would stop singing and start eating. The tradition was that if someone got back up for more food, we all would sing the chant again until they got their food and were seated. I don’t remember ever having a prayer of any sort, and when pressed about the history of our Swedish Christmas or dopp i grytan, my father would say it was a tradition of honoring the famine years in Sweden. Even though the meal was sparse, it was always a happy time and the excitement of Santa coming was in the air.
 
 
We have celebrated this all my life and I have no reason to think my father didn’t do the same growing up.

But…
Firstly, I’m pretty sure the words are not correct.  Its suppose to say something along the lines of Christmas is here again, dip in the grease.
Secondly, outside my family, I have yet to find anyone who has even heard of this.
 
I found a couple vague references to it.
 
The dopp I grytan itself, I have figured out, started as a winter solstice pagan festival where young animals were slaughtered and put in a communal boiling pot to appease Odin so the crops would be good as well as a lot of other things. At sun down all would gather around and dip their bread in the broth.  Christianity eventually took root, and it was, to keep the story short, merged into a new holiday in Christianity called Christmas.  I also believe that a fasting was required for that day or days before.  I would say the honoring of the famines, which is what we were told, and the old tradition of rituals for a good harvest pretty much line up (either way means pretty much the same thing)
 
 
Any help or thoughts would be appreciated
Pete
 

2018-12-20, 21:07
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Hi Pete!

First let me ask you if you have read my private messages I have sent to you regarding Gränna in Småland and Emanuelsdotter? I have some information and we might have the same ancestors who where drummers in the army.

When it comes to the song I first thought of one we used to sing: "Nu är det jul igen och nu är det jul igen, och julen varar än till påska". Meaning now it is Jul(Christmas) again now it is jul again, it lasts until Easter. But there are no words about dopp i grytan in that song. I have never heard of any Christmas song with dopp i grytan but that does not mean it doesn't exist such a such a song. Here is a link to youtube and nu är det jul igen.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rf3d1srLhqc

When did your father lived in Sweden? The tradition with a Santa is not so very old here in Sweden and also the food we eat at Christmas has changed some over the years and the traditionell Swedish julbord that we now eat is pretty young, from the 1950's I think. Off course some of it is traditionell food that people have eaten way back in history and I guess that dopp i grytan might be one of the old ones. It was practical to soak up dry bread. When I was young my grandparents used to have dopp i grytan every Christmas but no song when they eat it though. When it comes to our Santa or Tomte as we say it is pretty new. During the 19th Century it was more common with a julbock/Yule goat than a Santa. I recommend that you read about it on wikipedia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule_Goat

I will see if I can find some more about the song.

Regards

Klas

2018-12-20, 21:48
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Thanks Klas,The first part "Nu är det jul igen" sounds alot closer then what i said, but the second part is defiantly Doppa i grytan.  we even say "when is doppa grytan starting".  I have found lots of references to people dipping rye bread in the grease of the christmas ham.
my GGrandfather from smaland came over in 1865 to attend the newly formed augustana seminary and college. my GGmother from varmland cam over in 1868.
the Santa thing i realize is not old anywhere, but the Swedish Christmas eve vs everyone else Christmas day is older, correct?  and my GGrandmother talked of a mischievous elf/fairy/gnome (she called it brownie i think, i will have to find that storie she wrote) that would come and take away bad kids, but also give presents (it was kinda confusing)
i do have books and books on Swedish Christmases, but the English wiki is rally bad when it comes to Sweden, so i have to go to the Swedish wiki and have it translated back to English which isn't always the best.
outside my cousins though, i have never heard of anyone celebrating dopp i grytan in the way we do. i have sent this exact question to extended family to see where it came to be.  my grandfathers kids celebrated it in this way, and i am reaching out to his siblings grand children now.
Thanks for nowPete

2018-12-20, 22:59
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Hi!

If your great grandparents left Sweden as early as mid 1800's they might have brought traditions and songs that we do not have anymore and that are now forgotten by most of us. Christmas developed very much 100 years ago. It is possible that the Christmas traditions were very individual before early 20th Century when the radio helped create a more general Christmas tradition. My grandmother on my mothers side were also from Värmland but she was born early 1900 and I do not remember that she told me about any special Christmas traditions. My mother told me they used to eat the special sausages called Värmlandskorv (värmlands sausages)but that is the only odd dish. Perhaps it was as you mentioned, there had been bad times in Sweden and when they got dopp i grytan during Christmas they remembered the sparse times and was so thankful for their food so they sang songs and made some rituals. I checked it up and dopp i grytan is one o few dishes on our julbord that people have eaten for several hundreds of years.

Tomte is a little gnom that people thought could help the farmers with some things but also punish them with mean jokes if he got angry. It was important to put out the Christmas porrige for tomten which is something many still do today as a tradition even if they live in cities. Every Christmas we use to see an old short movie on Swedish tv called Tomten, in which a person reads a poem by Viktor Rydberg. Rydberg was born in Jönköping in Småland. (Gränna is today a part of Jönköping administration area.) Here is a link if you like to see it. The poem is translated to English on this site  https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Robin_Goodfellow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BVzYcuVg-c

It is a very fine poem and I have the book too. It was first written in 1881 The Swedes still knew about the old tomte during the 19th Century and one of our artists Jenny Nyström used to paint them. Later on we took the old tomte and transformed it into Santa Claus but still our tomte often comes to us from the forests not the North Pool as in USA and England or Africa/Spain as in the Nederlands. I have read somewhere that the artist who created the picture of  Santa Claus for Coca Cola in the early 1900's was from Finland and knew about Jenny Nyströms pictures of tomtar and was inspired by them.

As you say we celebrate most on Christmas Eve or Julafton as we say. I am not sure it was the original way of celebrating the pagan festival for the winter solstice though because our Christmas is a little later in december than the solstice. It seems that the eve/afton is generally important in Sweden. Also we celebrate midsommarafton/midsummer eve. I think that I read that it might be because the Churches rang the bells on the evening before an important Christian holiday (and maybe that the new day started already when the sun set), but that must be the case for several other countries too. I guess no one knows for sure why the eve is so important here.

Klas

 

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