Christmas, Christmas, sweet Christmas?
Is there a more convivial time than Christmas? It probably depends on who you ask. In fact, it is likely to be associated with trauma in Karsträsk. Here are three Christmas events in Skellefteå that challenge the prevailing image of the holiday.
1. Weeping lucians?
We start at Skellefteå Hospital where a Norwegian patient underwent an operation in the 1940s. He woke up in his bed after the operation to the appearance of figures dressed in white with candles in their hands. Totally unaware of the concept of St. Lucia, he drew the only reasonable conclusion that the figures were angels. The temporary and, as it turned out, incorrect realization that he had died caused him to pull the covers over his head in horror.
Image above: Staff celebrating St. Lucia at Skellefteå Hospital, 1927. Photo: Skellefteå Museum.
2. The Christmas bird
You know the Christmas goat. The Christmas bird that walked around the farms in Karsträsk on Christmas Eve evening, making a lot of noise, scaring and biting children, is less talked about. But the tradition around it lived on at least from the early 1930s to the 1960s. A witness describes: "During my childhood, the Christmas bird always arrived a little after Santa Claus and it started with the bird making a lot of noise and banging its wooden stick on the bridge steps. Then it was led around the kitchen where everyone had gathered. I remember it with the most horror. My mother also told me that when she was little she tried to crawl up on the iron stove to get away but the Christmas bird still came and pecked at her."
THE PICTURE: The Christmas bird in the picture is made from a dog-skin coat with a wooden stick with a "bird head" made from an otter hat threaded through one arm. Photo: Eje Persson/Skellefteå museum
3. the ugly tree
"It's hard to find an uglier tree." Criticism was not kind when the Lövångerbygdens utveckling association presented the community's official Christmas tree for 2016. Battered and bare in places, it was a miserable sight - even the association's chairwoman Evy Andersson admitted it without hesitation. But, she added, it serves its purpose. She told Norran: "It does a final service by holding up a string of lights. It looks awful during the day, but nice in the evening when the beautiful string of lights makes it impossible to see the tree." This optimistic reasoning helped turn public opinion around. Rarely has a tree received more sympathy and suddenly Lövånger was in the media spotlight. "The Norway spruce - a boost for Lövånger" reported newspapers as far away as Skåne. Soon a mini version of the tree was also sold by the local company Furniture Farm, which normally builds TV benches and coffee tables.
IMAGE: The Christmas tree in lövånger was a success. Photo: Patrick Degerman