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Sliding into Swedishness: Beyond the point of no return?

Midsummer celebrations have been mildly disconcerting. There’s irrefutable evidence that I’m Swedifying and I fear it’s potentially beyond the point of no return. I now like salty candy, have actively competed in throwing varpa stones and am a bit disappointed that midsummer was completely rain-free in the outer Stockholm archipelago.

I’m most concerned that the unimaginable happened. I ate and, (here’s the scary part,) liked salty Swedish candy. Blåfisk isn’t the hardcore salt liquorice (not salted at all but flavored by salmiac or ammonium chloride) since it’s milder and not so salty tasting, but it’s salty enough.blue fish
In nearly 17 years in Sweden the closest I’ve come to liking salty candy is throwing back candy-flavored snaps (Both Blåfisk and Turkishpeppar make rather tasty snaps popularized and trendy in the 90s.) Until now.

Second revelation.
Our new tradition to celebrate midsummer brings us to our friends’ new summer house on Norrö.The island residents (I think nearly all are only here summer season) organize a fabulous midsummer celebration. Beyond the expected ring dance with little frogs and sleeping bears there is the varpa competition. Last year the Swede joined in and nearly knocked out the local favorite (last year’s varpa blog entry.) This year our gang convinced me to join. Not even knowing the basic rules, in the spirit of trying things new, I threw my varpa in the ring.

Out of nowhere it appeared that I was both good at it and the crowd’s safe bet for the winner. When I was just a newbie amusing myself and our friends the competition was fun. When people started whispering that I would be the likely winner I got nervous.

Thankfully I had no idea that I was breaking one of the many punishable rules (17 page pdf -In Swedish- of official varping rules, regulations and punishments here. ) of regulation varpa. I was doped. Driving and varping have the same legal alcohol limit. No need for the blood test since I choked in the semi-final round. My ouster went on to win the competition so I felt slightly better about losing. But only slightly. I’m still replaying my throws in my head. I think I’m hooked. varpa stoneNow where can I find my very own varpa stone to practice for next year? Revenge shall me mine. And yes, I intend to dope myself again.

Finally. We got no rain. Not even a rain cloud. How can I be satisfied with my Swedish midsummer celebrations without a single drop? The table was set in all its permanence out on the veranda. Not a once did we shift the table to under the rooftop and we could audaciously leave water-sensitive items out on the table as we threw our varpa stones. The direct taunt to the rain gods produced nothing. I somehow felt pleasantly disappointed that we had a most glorious midsummer in glorious sunshine.

Ah, Swedish midsummer. It’s no wonder you’re Sweden’s most beloved holiday.midsommar

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2 responses to “Sliding into Swedishness: Beyond the point of no return?”

  1. Monica says:

    Very nice story now if only you could explain more about the game you were playing?

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  2. BB says:

    Varpa seems to be closely related to boules. There are two stakes about 20m (60ft) apart –like horseshoes and you throw a flat stone weighing 2-4lbs –you pick one like a bowling ball and try to get it closest to the stick)

    We played a very simple version where the first competitor to win 5 throws (get closest to the stick) won. I looked up the official rules of serious varpa here in Sweden and the rules were 17 pages long. The game seems to have originated on the island of Gotland ages ago.

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