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Ice Breakers

Sophomore spends winter break in Sweden

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Ice Breakers

Julia dresses in warm clothing in the snow.

Julia dresses in warm clothing in the snow.

Ulla Lundin

Julia dresses in warm clothing in the snow.

Ulla Lundin

Ulla Lundin

Julia dresses in warm clothing in the snow.

By Priya Gregerson, Vandegrift High School

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Not everyone has to dream of a white Christmas.

During winter break, sophomore Julia Jones visited her Grandparents in Uppsala, Sweden. Julia and her family usually visit Sweden in the summer months, but this year the family decided to visit in the winter for the first time in seven years.

“The weather is obviously much colder [than in the summer] with lots of snow for skiing, skating and sledding,” Julia said. “My favorite part was getting to hang out with my cousins and play in the snow.”

Julia skates with her cousin Teo Lundin -Sofie Jones

Julia’s mother, Sofie Jones, was born and raised in Sweden so when her mother had Julia, she made sure to talk to her in Swedish. Julia used to speak Swedish in the house a lot but over the years it has lessened. However, when Julia and her family are in public, they speak Swedish for privacy. Julia is fluent in the language but is still working on improving on reading and writing.

“Since we go to Sweden every summer, the vocabulary we use is pretty much the same every time so we’re used to it,” Julia said. “But when we went in the winter time, I found that there were so many words I didn’t know, such as the word for ski shoe.”

Julia and her family drove to a village resort called Högbo for her grandfather’s birthday. A few days into the trip, the family walked into the woods to a little pond that had frozen over where they ice skated and grilled hot dogs.

“I was definitely pretty scared to fall while we were skating on the open ice with no railing,” Julia said. “The most fun part about the trip though was probably getting to slide down snow covered slopes on board-like sleds.”

Sofie Jones
Julia grills hot dogs by the pond.

Julia’s mother forwarded her a Facebook link with a video entitled “Vikings, Santa and Christmas” a few weeks prior to the trip. The video explored Scandinavian Christmas traditions stemming from mythology.

“Mythology is imbedded in our culture, like it or not,” Sofie Jones said. “It’s always interesting to know how a culture has been influenced by its history and how certain things have become tradition and why. Some make sense, and some are just funny, [which] probably true for most cultures.”

Julia was excited to learn about Swedish Christmas traditions. Before watching the video, she did not know much about them.

“I felt like I got to know my culture better through how those traditions came to be,” Jones said. “For example, one of the big symbols of ‘Jul’ [Christmas in Swedish] is a ram which is a symbol of Thor, one of the old Norse gods. The word ‘Jul’ comes from the name my ancestors gave the Winter Solstice.”

This story was originally published on Vandegrift Voice on January 18, 2019.

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