Happy belated Valborg!

It was also Valborg last week! My second Valborg in exile after last year’s.
Somehow I fall for traditions and the Swedish holidays are deeply ingrained in my heart by now. To ignore Valborg is therefore not really an option and so I paid the Swedish Church in Frankfurt a short visit to hear those four spring songs that are guaranteed, get that obligatory grilled sausage, wear the student cap and shout four hoorays for the Swedish king. My theory is that the Swedes keep their traditions alive so well [because they really do even if they’d deny it] since they like the collective feeling and predictability. In today individualised society of uncertainness, who can blame them?

Valborg is the day that enhances my almost always lingering longing for Uppsala times and friends. When one of them texted me a photo of the celebrations on site, “You should be back next year!”, I got carried away replying, “Yes!”

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Frankfurt’s Swedish Church doesn’t blow the visitor away with their garden but the church is beautiful even if, for me, nothing can compete with Hamburg’s Swedish Church.

 

 

Valborg outside Uppsala

Valborg 2014

Valborg 2014

It is that time of the year. It is the time when the lilacs, syrenen, bud. All over town – over that particular fairy tale town – there is a sweet smell of spring. It is the time of the year when you can get out the sandals but you need real shoes when the sun goes down. It is the month when the sun wakes you and your bike tires finally make the sound of tire against gravel again because the snow has, finally!, melted. It is the time of the year when Facebook tells me, “Nicola is attending Valborg på Värmlands nation” and “Christian is going to Kvalborg Kathuska”. And it is the first year I am not there, there where one should be, on the last day of April.

Champagne has an important role on Valborg.

Champagne has an important role on Valborg (Snerikes nation, 2014). Obviously, when I speak of the spirituality of spring, I don’t mean the drinking and wild parties. Even though they are an important element, too…

The last day of April never had any significance to me. In Germany, the first of May is the day you celebrate. When I started studying in Uppsala, I was taught what greeting spring really meant. After a long winter, I experienced a rush of happiness when we got to lie in the grass again. The longing, the joy, it was almost spiritual.

“With the sun finally warm again, against her skin, she grows stronger every day. She tells me how exhilirated she feels to hear the first drops of melted snow falling from the roof. And how joyous to see the first tender blades of grass! She says she has never felt more alive.”

This year, I consciously decided to not travel to Uppsala for Valborg. It is part of my fondest memories but it is also the day that can make you feel, oh, so old. But of course there will not – never? –be a last day of April for me passing unnoticed anymore. Today is the day the light, the warmth, the life is welcomed back, and in Hamburg it rains. When I look at the calendar, April 30, 3 p.m., there is that thought of “I should be on Carolinabacken right now, waving that hard-earned hat”. Nothing can compare to Uppsala. But – now the sun just came out, and I will grab that sångbok and lots of warm layers, we will go the beach and light a big fire. We’ll sing all those Valborg songs with the choir and there will be that Valborg speech. All those traditions will be brought here, just a little different, just somewhere else. And even if my heart yearns for that town and its people that I hold so dear, tonight will be a night to make new memories.

At the Uppsala castle 2013, hearing the Valborg speech and songs

At the Uppsala castle 2013, hearing the Valborg speech and songs

Gamla Uppsala Hills, close to the big fire

Gamla Uppsala Hills 2013, close to the big fire

Heimaturlaub

Bildschirmfoto 2014-04-24 um 17.17.12

Heimaturlaub:  [ˈhaɪ̯maːtuːɐ̯laʊ̯p], a period of time that soldiers are allowed to leave the battle field and return home. 

There have been many trips that I have anticipated in my life so far. But I actually think I have never been this psyched to go somewhere. In some 15 hours I will be sitting with my dearest Marita. And then I will enjoy a six-day-long series of meeting inspiring, beloved people. At this time, Sweden hosts the greatest number of people I long for. (Ingrid and I are working on an incentive program to make these move to Hamburg.) It will be a temporary break from my German struggle trying to understand transportation systems, administrative rules (well, I do actually have to do my taxes while in Sweden, but still), and finding a good fika place.

It does not get much better than that, does it?

I can say that this prospect has been the main motivation to live through endless days of completely idiotic work days, of dealing with the bad parts of German culture, of carrying on all together. Today, despite the eight and a half hours of typing numbers into an excel sheet, I have been walking up and down the corridor at work with a bright smile on my face, imaging myself in the cafés of Stockholm, on Carolinabacken in Uppsala. Going “home” and seeing you is the main source of my resilience.