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Swedish New Year's Eve


New Year's Eve in Sweden is not the carnival-like occasion it is in many countries.  Swedes are apt to celebrate the New Year by inviting a few friends home, and many greet the coming year in front of their television sets.
Since the turn of the century Stockholmers have gathered at Skansen at midnight to hear a reading of Tennyson's "Ring out the old, ring in the new".  When radio arrived on the scene in the 1920s, this reading was broadcast throughout the country, a tradition now carried on by television.  Perhaps this is part of the reason why Swedes tend to stay at home on New Year's Eve.  restaurants are, of course, fully booked, and some people let off fireworks, but very often New Year's Eve in Sweden is spent quietly at home.
If you know the right tricks, you can predict the fortunes of the coming year.  You might, for example, melt lead and cast the molten metal into a bowl of cold water.  The shape of resulting lead clump bears a clue about the coming year.  This custom is widespread in Germany and most probably come to Sweden from the country.  It was also customary in olden days to go out into the frozen fields or roads in the dark of the long midwinter night and stand and listen.  If you thought you heard, say, the sound of a scythe cutting grass, it meant a good harvest for the coming year, but if you heard, say, the clang of sword against sword, there might be rattling of arms and war afoot.
Source: "Traditional Festivities in Sweden"; Author: Ingemar Liman; Published by: The Swedish Institute, ISBN 91-520-0113-X
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