Sweden has a pretty impressive list of inventions that have impacted the world. I visited the home of the safety match, a story which makes Jönköping very proud.
The ”only matchstick museum in the world” (of course) tells the story of the local Lundström brothers, Johan and Carl, who started the first matchstick factory in 1845.
The philanthropic siblings built new housing for their workers whose jaws dropped off from the poisonous white phosphorus. A nice new home is all well and good but they would have probably preferred to keep their faces intact.
But that all changed in 1853 when Norrköping chemist Gustav Erik Pasch came up with the sensible idea to use a non-poisonous phosphorus instead.
The Lundströms patented his work, essentially robbing Pasch’s glory and Norrköping of the chance of hosting the “only matchstick museum in the world.”
Norrköping shouldn’t worry too much. There was only so much enthusiam I could muster for the safety match, unlike a German family who were videoing and documenting every exhibit in a rather conspicous manner.
I would have brought it to the attention of the receptionist had Jönköping not nicked the invention from another town. But if the ”world’s second matchstick museum” opens in Baden-Baden next year we now know why.
Jönköping is also known for being at the heart of Sweden’s bible belt and is sometimes called Sweden’s Jerusalem with its veritable number of Pentecostal Churches but no Wailing Wall in sight.
It was Sunday. I was in Jönköping. And when in Rome, or even Jönköping on a Sunday…I went to church.
Now while the Swedish Church laments low congregation numbers and the many who choose to opt out of membership, the pews were full of worshipers that spanned the generations.
As to be expected there was some token waving of hands in the air and impromptu ”praise the lord’s” but I was a little bit disappointed in the nature of the sermon.
I suppose I was hoping for an uplifting scripture about a spiritual journey to see me through to the end. But instead it was a passage from John 12 about preparing for death, which I chose to interpret as gearing up for the final hours, or at least days, of my trip.
Still, I received a very warm welcome and, after a few quick introductions, I know that a there are people in Jönköping praying for my safe return home and the healing of my hairline fracture. Amen to that.