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Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

Get back to work: Christmas is over.

–What do you call “mellandagarna” in English?

I’ve been asked this over the years so many times.

The term “mellandagarna” indicates the limbo days between 26 December and 1 January.  Officially these days, if weekdays, are regular calendar days, but because they fall between two public holidays (Christmas and new year’s) and are part of Christmas vacation for school children, they belong to a unofficial classification of time off.

If you’ve been wondering where everyone in Sweden is;  if they’re not home ignoring you, they’re on the slopes ignoring you (if it’s work related don’t take it personally, if it’s socially related, you might want to reconsider what you mean to them –cell coverage reaches the slopes.)

I’m in a bind between needing to do some work and wanting to ride the wave of a two-week vacation. So as I sit here on the eve of a “regular workday” I can’t help but think that mellandagarna should be work-free days and the procrastinator in me has won out –at least for tonight and likely tomorrow (the husband is home from work until 7 January which makes mellandagarna a series of weekend days in our house.)

So. What’s the answer to the original question?  I usually tell the people who ask that mellandagarna means “regular work day.”  They often just don’t get it and shrug. Then they wish me, “god fortsättning” which is a way to wish you a continued enjoyable Christmas holiday. They then ask:

–How do you say, “god fortsättning” in English?

And I tell them:

–You don’t. Christmas is over.

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33 responses to “Get back to work: Christmas is over.”

  1. Mahmood says:

    You don’t mellandagarnize is Boston?

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  2. chris says:

    After the feast of Christmas on the 25th, the Church – at least the Catholic one- has traditionally a Christmas “octave” or eight days of celebrations which are considered a liturgical “high time” as well as the feast itself. It could be an explanation or an echo to the “god fortsättning” .

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  3. Dr Watson says:

    Boston Blatte: “So. What’s the answer to the original question? I usually tell the people who ask that mellandagarna means “regular work day.” They often just don’t get it and shrug. Then they wish me, “god fortsättning” which is a way to wish you a continued enjoyable Christmas holiday.”

    Eh…… Hmmmmm…

    Well, Boston Blatte, perhaps it is so that you don’t really get it?

    I don’t quite get this think with people that want to blog publically about their experiences and as soon as they run into something they clearly doesn’t understand slag it off as wrong in one way or the other.

    Are you trying to say that you know better than the Swedes what “mellanddagarna” is and the meaning and cultural back ground to “god fortsättning”?

    Well, there is no reason for you as a non-Swede couldn’t teach many Swedes one or two things about the culture/language/history. An excellent example of how this could be done is the “Snuggling with the enemy”-blog. Intelligent. Well resarched. Open minded. Curious. Sensitive to the fact the blogger might not always have superior understanding of the complex cultural context. Read and learn.

    Now, for your benefit and the other non-Swedes that might be led to belive that you know what you are talking about:

    1) Mellandagarna: literally means “the days between Christmas and New Years holidays”. No more. No less.

    2) Good fortsättning: Literally means “good continuation”, with the implicit understanding “..of the Christmas holiday”. No, Boston Blatte, the Christmas season is not over as soon as we have past Christmas day/eve and Boxing day. You see, in Sweden Christnmas celebration, or rather the celebration at this time of the year predates Christ with many 100 years, so our “Christmas” celebration is originated in a mixed of Christian/religious and pagan tradition. The end of the Christmas season in Sweden is 13th January, often refered to as tjugondedag Knut (“twenthieth day Knut”) is it is 20 days after Chritmas. It is not entierly know why, but some people belive that this is related to the “Midwinter sacrifice” the Vikings did. But, this is perhaps beyond the point. It is part of Swedish cultural (not religous) heritage, it it might not make sense/is understood/known to you.

    But perhaps you are not in a position to lecture/teach Swedes about their traditions and culture given you lack of knowledge/understanding of it?

    By all means, it is always interesting/entertining/curious to hear how non-Swedes expriences and views over here, but in order to be somewhat relevant perhaps you want to do some basic reserach so that your musings have some relevance.

    Appart from that, it is nice that you take an interest.

    And with that – God fortsättning!

    And for anyone with a curious mind, here are some good reading about the Swedish Christmas tradition:





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  4. Jeanette says:

    For me as Swedish “God fortsättning” means; I wish you a nice new year, cause theese words an be said until January 13th (13 dag Knut). Then we let the children plunder the christmas tree (or have a fest for them) and then throw it out, aka Christmas is then over.

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  5. Boston Blatte says:

    @Mahmood. Boston is often a bit behind the global trends; first NYC then Boston. I did get a few Facebook friends wanting to start a mellandagarna movement (though a friend of a friend thought it was an article of clothing suitable for new year’s eve LOL)…so perhaps we’ve kicked off the trend of mellandagarnization –sing that to the tune of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Californication.

    @chris. Thanks. You’ve got something there that it’s a very likely explanation for or at least a contribution to the development of the tradition.

    @Jeanette. Tjugonde Knut is a great time marker to “dance out” Christmas. Too many Americans (and my family have been guilty of this) keep up xmas decorations for far too long. Personally, I’m pretty much ready to torch the tree already.

    @My dear Dr. Watson. Thanks for the links, though if your intention is to teach Swedes more about Swedish holidays/culture/[Swedish]language/history I’d recommend sites in Swedish. Then again, Swedes reading this blog who might catch a giggle from it probably aren’t looking for a lesson. Guess it could work.

    Now back to our regular Christmas programming.

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  6. Dr Watson says:

    Are you for real, Boston Blatte?

    Do you really believe that it is the Swedes that need to learn more about the traditions around a Swedish Christmas? And if they do, are you of the impression that most Swedes won’t be able understand the English on those (and other) websites? Don’t you think there is one two curious and open-minded expats in Sweden that could actually be a little bit more interested in learning something real about our traditions, as opposed to your speculative rambling about it, and are perfectly capable in reading an English website? Well, if they are on The Local they should have that capability begin a Swede, or an expat.

    Obviously, you are the first one who needs a lesson on this, as your blog entry so clearly shows that you 1) don’t really know what you are talking about and 2) spreading misinformation to people that probably, unlike you apparently, are more interested in real knowledge than private speculation and rambling on how things are and the reasons for them. You know, people with curious and open minds who regard facts and knowledge as something enriching in their lives – and in this context perhaps, in settling in and understanding their new (temporary) home environment. And In my experience lots of the expat community in Sweden are of this calibre, again, unlike you as it seems.

    But your response to Chris says it all: Who are you to judge/determine what is a likely or not explanation of a tradition that is 100s (if not 1000) of years old ? As if you are an authority on this topic? Especially as your blog entry has showed that you clearly don’t have a clue. Perhaps a little humbleness would be fitting? If people try to inform you or teach you something (of which you clearly don’t understand/know) perhaps you are not in a position to tell them if they are right/reasonable or not. What an arrogant and idiotic attitude, especially from someone who’s blog has really no substance at all on the very topic it is supposed to be focusing on.

    Giggle? Was your entry supposed to be fun? Eh…

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  7. linda christian says:

    Dr Watson…. I think I love you !

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  8. Jacob says:

    After reading Dr Watsons posts I went back and re-read Boston Blattes original blog entry. I don’t think he read the same entry as I did. Maybe he read every third word or something and then filled the blanks with what he imagined to be there?

    I find this blog to be one of the more interesting ones here on the local. One of the few I read with some regularity. Actually, the only one I read with some regularity.


    My mother asked my brother in law a similar question of sorts. She asked him what the day before good Friday is called in English. My brother in law is Irish. And something of a joker.

    His reply was “Thursday”.

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  9. Brian Bell says:

    Actually I believe that Boston Blatte was giving a bit of a jab to the American “tradition” of working the 24th and the 26th of December and thereafter, allowing the tradition of Christmas to roll under the wheels of capitalism. As for SIMPLY answering her question, typically it is known as Christmas week. Most Americans will implicitly know this…Have a Happy New Year !!!

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  10. Christopher Anerley says:

    The depths of writing have plummeted since the inception of blogging. This one is a prime example of the self indulgent twaddle churned out by a long line of uninteresting people. Not funny, not informative and not wanted.

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  11. Boston Blatte says:

    @ Jacob. I think I’d like your BIL, wise man he is. I appreciate your comment. Heartwarming to know there’s at least a handful out there who “get it”.

    @Brian. No jabs meant, but as I have never worked the “days between” (a likely waitressing/bartending shift notwithstanding) I do feel sorry for the folks back at work already on the 26th.

    @ Christopher. I always wonder why people who revile things so much take such active interest in them. I find golf an uninteresting activity and funnily enough, I don’t golf.

    @ My dear Dr. Watson. Thank you for heading my hate-fan club. It validates the blog. I appreciate your lead-by-example decision to humbly represent yourself as the lesser insightful sidekick. Very apt.

    My reply comment addressed your statement that Swedes could learn things via the blogs. If that was your point/message then your links ideally would be in Swedish not because Swedes reading the Local can’t understand English, but that the intended audience of a Swedish reference would be Swedes. Though I can’t figure out why Swedes or English speakers would turn to blog entries as factual resources when searching the Internet would supply so many more recognized fact sheets or articles. An article on The Local addresses much of this http://www.thelocal.se/2731/20051221/.

    And in case you haven’t picked it up yet, this is a blog not a NE entry.

    To answer your question, “Was your entry supposed to be fun?”
    Nope. Funny.

    Grått Nytt Hår

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  12. Ted says:

    Since some are excited at the prospect of teaching Boston Blatte about their culture, I’ll share one of my own insights about internet culture: flame-baiters are best simply ignored.

    Oh, and god fortsättning!

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  13. Dr Watson says:

    But Botston Blatte, you don’t really get it. Do you?

    That your blog isn’t NE I think is pretty damn obvious to all. But do you mean not being NE mean that you think it is ok/interesting/meaningful/relevant/enetrtaining to share your ignorance about the very things you set out to lecture your blog readers about?

    Or is it just me that think that the title of this very blog entry “Get back to work: Christmas is over” has a bit of lecturing tone to it? And by logical extension your ramble about “God fortsättning” gets the same treatment by you implying that “Christmas is over” so stop wishing people “God fortsättning”.

    Isn’t this the thole point and essence of your blog entry? To lecture/muse people about “Christmas is over” so it’s time to move on?

    Well, Boston Blatte, as the very assumption, or your ignorance perhaps, about when the Swedish Christmas is over was and is completely wrong, your whole blog entry becomes not only misleading for people that doesn’t know Swedish Christmas customs and traditions (or their backgrounds).

    And I hope, and are pretty sure, that you are not intentionally trying to mislead your fans, or other readers, right? Isn’t it almost disrespectful to your fan base, and other readers, that if you have the urge to muse about a certain observation/experience of yours, that you get some basic facts right first?

    And labling people that are pointing out your factual errors, which unfortunately in this case made your whole blog entry meaningless (and worse, misleading) “haters” and retort with your bitchy comments speaks volumes about your lack of appreciation and respect for not only your readers but for fact and real knowledge.

    And please, adding that link to a The Local article about Christmas to showcase your indepth knowledge about the topic is not impressive. The qulity of The Local’s editorial material is incredibly poor with loads of biases and speculative statements. In general not very informed. So go back to NE instead of The Local if you need look up things. Well, assuming that you are, after all, interestd in getting your facts right.

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  14. streja says:

    Dr Watson, ta ur den där pinnen du har i röven, tack.

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  15. Karen says:

    Dr. Watson,

    Speaking as an American expat in Sweden I’d like to point out how disappointing the regularity of posts like yours to what was basically a light-hearted subject like this one. We are daily lectured about our own culture and all it’s purported failings by everyone and his brother, often on the basis of only a few bad television shows or discredited documentaries. Rarely has the person ever even experienced in person the culture in question.

    It isn’t always a person’s first choice to spend time away from home, and for the most part I think the majority of us try and contribute to and participate in the’home’ countries we are posted in. Please allow us a little occasional humor – and keep in mind that in the expression of humor we are usually far more difficult on ourselves.

    Please try and put yourself in our position. We aren’t perfect – and we don’t instinctively understand everything about Sweden. Pretend you are an expat in a foreign country and how it would feel. We aren’t perfect – but Sweden doesn’t demonstrate the most accepting cultures either.

    So as not to misuse any expressions, I will just wish everyone a Happy New Year.


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  16. Dr Watson says:


    I’m sorry to hear about your daily lectures based on bad TV/documentaries. Not sure what I’ve got to do with that. Or anyone that points out blatantly incorrect/stupid comments by people like BB. Fact is her whole entry is based on a notion that “Christmas is over” which she then use to make some “lighthearted” comments, on the locals’ customs and behaviors that apparently are supposed to be funny. But, again, that whole notion is wrong: Christmas isn’t over for anyone with insight in local traditions/custom. Is that really so wrong to point that out on a forum like this which are followed by droves of expats, who probably are a little bit more interested than what BB understand in “getting it”, in seeing through the stereotypes and presumptions that makes it soooo difficult for many to integrate and assimilate? Does it warrant bitchy comments back from the blogger?

    Yes, let my “try” to put myself in your position. Yes, let’s try:

    I am a Swede/Stockholmer but have now spent all togher more than 12 years overseas: 3 continents, 6 countries. So I think I know what you are going through. Also, I am partnered with an American and have plenty of inlaws and friends there so I think I can relate a little bit to you.

    And I know this, as an expat there are many challenges with integrating, appreciating the local/s’ culture, enjoying the experience gets infinately more difficult/impossible if you resort to ignorance, stereotypes, misinformation, biases, presumptions and assumptions. Unfortunately this entry, as many other of BB’s entries, are jam packed with them and as such she/you are better off getting records/facts straight/corrected. You will benefit from it, in the case you are interested in seeing beyond the stereotypes and challenging the ignorance. Not the occasional humor that you are asking for. But I agree with you, that is important!


    Jag tar mycket hellre ut pinnen ur din lilla röv! Men den kanske sitter fast för hårt!?

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  17. RI expat says:

    Dr Watson dude – you read it in the first place
    Fy på dig

    Stay cool BB

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  18. Mo Hussein says:

    Everything Watson says is elementary and he is correct in trying to out this patently clear simple woman for writing such unintelligent and badly written stuff.

    I suppose that many Americans who read it are at this level though. Pity they are over here doing what they do best…. telling everyone how much they know without realising the irony in coming from a country that has long been the main catalyst for the decay of standards in the world.

    Best medicine for BB and her dumbness is to ignore her. I will from now on and won’t even check back to see any unamusingly smug response.

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  19. Boston Blatte says:

    @Ted. I appreciate Dr. Watson’s input. Conflict is an excellent source of entertainment and stimulates debate. I’m flattered by his interest in my blog.

    @Karen. Over more than 2 decades of living and traveling abroad it’s very obvious that being an American automatically puts in in one of two categories for most folks; loved or hated (though certainly different degrees of those two) and the ones that don’t like you for being American see you as a political representation rather that being an individual.

    I was zieg heiled by a skinhead in Gamla Stan and when he understood that I wasn’t the sort of “jävla svartskalle” he anticipated and was American he then followed it up with “Ah you’re American. Shit country”. I literally shrugged apathetically thinking, “If you want to offend or insult me you have to do better than that” since that type of statement is so trite, unimaginative and empty. In other words, I hope you can learn to let that kind of stuff roll off you. It’s so not worth it.

    @RI. Thanks, I’m lovin’ this.

    @ My dear Dr. Watson. It’s a pity you interpret my intentions incorrectly. I have lived in Sweden for over 16 years, speak fluent Swedish and participate quite actively in the Swedish society and my Swedish community so I’ll reiterate straight out that I’m not criticizing Swedish culture or traditions but playing on the differences and a non-Swede’s viewpoint. The question “What do you call this in English?” presumes that “this” i.e. the concept, exists in English. When there is no concept, there is no “this is what we call it” answer available. So to make light of it, sarcasm can be used to illustrate that point. Sarcasm can be and often is a form of humor. It’s obviously not your cup of humor.

    I take you more for a knock-knock joke kinda guy. So on that note, I’ll close with.

    Hey Dr. Watson…knock-knock.

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  20. Dr Watson says:

    Ah, an American lecturing the world on sarcasm. That is indeed sarcastic!

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  21. Boston Blatte says:

    @ Dr. Watson. I think you mean “ironic”. Swedes always have a little trouble discerning the difference in English usage between sarcastic and ironic. Perhaps that’s where the trouble lies.

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  22. handlebars dave says:

    it is unlikely BB whether you understand either.

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  23. Boston Blatte says:

    Always possible Dave.

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  24. handlebars dave says:

    not when these blogs show evidence of your poor intelligence.

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  25. Dr Watson says:

    BB you do seem to have a particular urge to lecture people in your responses. People that clearly understand and know what they are talking about infinitely more than what you do.

    No I wrote sarcastic and meant sarcastic.

    Do you know the difference between ironic and sarcastic? Well, it appear obvious to me given your blog entries and message response/retorts that you most likely don’t. And just as obvious is that lack of knowledge or understanding, or both, is not going to stop you from trying to lecture anyone.

    Time to do a reality check!

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  26. Dr Watson says:

    Oh, by the way, I thought you said you were fluent in Swedish. Well, if you are you would know that the Swedish words for “sarcastic” and “ironic” are almost identical so your attempted allegation that “Swedes always have a little trouble discerning the difference in English usage between sarcastic and ironic” is just as stupid and uniformed as your original claim that “Christmas is over!” So there would be little problem for a Swede to understanding the “English usage” of those two words irregardless of how good or bad their English is. If a Swede doesn’t understand the difference he/she just doesn’t understand the meaning of the words. Just like you!

    But most people are clever enough to not trying to lecture other, or make “lighthearted” fun, out of someone/thing which their basic comprehension is limited/non-existent.

    Just another indication of your ignorance, lack of knowledge, poor understanding and disrespectful attitude. Are you this disrespectful to your Swedish husband also? Or is it just in the cover of anonymity on here? Poor guy.

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  27. Boston Blatte says:

    @ Dave. Thanks for reading so many of my blog entries.
    @ Dr. Watson. Check. Thanks to you too for reading so many of my blog entries.

    I look forward to seeing your active participation in future entries. Välkomna.
    p.s. just saw your additional post. Keep reading and you’ll be filled in on more tidbits of BB’s life
    DS 😉

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  28. herringbreath says:

    Some insight re: Eastern New Englanders (esp from Massachusetts and Rhode Island). They are not only ignorant, but proud to be so, and will fight from the grave to have the last word. This blog would be priceless if we could watch it live in an arena, eller hur ? GOD FÖRSÄTTNING ALLESAMMANS ! även du BeBe. puss och kram : D

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  29. herringbreath says:

    oj oj oj . . .i meant GOD FORTSÄTTNING ALLESAMMANS. I extend my hands for a corrective beating. whatever. Ha det så bra i 2010

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  30. Sarah says:

    BB, I think you have inherited the troll troop that The English Girl has been trying to get rid of.
    And for a change I agree with Streja, Dr Watson needs to remove his internal stick. I will admit I didn’t bother to read all his posts, the few I did read just made me slap my forehead in a “Good grief!” type of way. Amusing, but in a very sad way. Oh well, not everyone can appreciate one person’s experiences.
    On a more positive note, I have often wondered myself what to call the mellandagarna, and have often just resorted to either using the Swedish term or going with the literal “middle days”. Meh, as long as people understand.
    Enjoy the last eve of your holiday!
    No Man’s Land Blogger

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  31. streja says:

    Sarkastisk och ironisk samma sak?

    Inte riktigt….

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  32. Dr Watson says:


    Om du läser en gång till kanske du förstår, får jag misstänker/utgår från att det var den här mening du ville attackera/kommentera:

    “… you would know that the Swedish words for “sarcastic” and “ironic” are almost identical….”

    En korrekt svensk översättning av denna mening är INTE att “Sarkastisk och ironisk samma sak”.

    Om du vill att jag hjälper dig att översätta från engelska säg till.

    Eller, om jag missuppfattat dig får du helt enkelt förklara lite bättre vad din senaste kommentar var tänkt att mena.

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  33. Dr Watson says:


    Engelska: “ironic” & “sarcastic”

    Svenska: “ironisk” & “sarkastisk”

    Ser du mönstret? Lite småklurigt, men ändå…

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