We are a few Swedes settled on the island, and some of our traditions are kept alive as Midsummer, Lucia and Christmas. The unifying force, the one who has from year to year made the biggest effort in keeping the Christmas tradition alive, is Birgitta. Every December, she invites all Swedes she can find for her Christmas dinner. Some of us only see each other at that time a year, so it’s always extra fun when it takes place.It almost feels exotic to just hear Swedish. Incredibly fun and relaxing in a cozy way.
My husband thinks it is very interesting even if he does not understand a word. When we sing songs before we drink our snaps he both finds amusing and strange. When I in the beginning of our relationship, invited him to Lucia celebrations he did not know what to expect and since I did not speak Turkish, I could not explain. Thankfully, I had a friend who had a Cypriot boyfriend who could explain parts of the tradition. He received a minor shock when our beautiful Lucia sailed in in her white linen with candles in her hair and sang Santa Lucia. Here we have only candlelight if someone died so he could not quite understand how this could be positive. Sometimes he still sings the Santa Lucia song even though it is now nine years since the incident.
And now; the Christmas smorgasbord! Christmas smorgasbord has got all one can wish for. Herring in all shapes and crispbread! The fantastic home-made bread, mustard, ham, cheese, jam, potatoes, and ribs. No one leaves the table hungry. People have a tendency to eat more than usual because it’s so good. When you feel like you can’t fit one more piece of food in your stomach the dessert Ris à la Malta arrives on the table. And surprisingly you find a little space in the stomach for it too. It is a cheerful and satisfied group of people who later leave the Christmas party.
Birgitta Bergman has been here for many years and she has learnt to speak Turkish and fixed up her fine house. She has got a wonderful view from the house where she lives. There, she also provides lunch for “new Swedes” or visiting Swedes. The idea is that those who want to know what it is like to have lived here for a long time, wondering about things, or even just curious about how we have it here, can come and ask questions. For a small amount of money you get good food and invaluable information about how it is to live in north Cyprus!