What is Valborg?

Valborg in Trädgårdsföreningen


Hey allihopa! I haven’t had time to write a lots these past days: my sister came to visit and then I had to focus on my thesis… But now I can find a little bit of time to talk to you about a major celebration in Sweden: Valborg!

What is Valborg?

Every year on 30th April, Swedes celebrate spring. They gather around in public places such as parks to drink, dance and enjoy the sun – when it’s sunny. When the night comes, a bonfire is usually lit up and Swedes dance around it.

The biggest and the most famous celebration of Valborg is in Uppsala. There, thousands of people gather to celebrate it, it is so popular that train tickets’ prices explode around this time of the year: everyone wants to participate in the celebrations!

How do you celebrate Valborg in Linköping?

This year, the weather was very nice and as usual, a student event was organized in Trädgårdsföreningen, a very nice park in the city center of Linköping. There was concerts, food trucks and hundreds of students chilling in the grass drinks in hand. I had a very nice time!

However, no bonfire was lit-up… there was a fire ban in the Östergötlands region due to the high temperatures.



Swedish dictionary – Semla/or

Vegan semlor.

Today is fettisdagen (or fat Tuesday) ! On this day it is tradition to eat semlor (semla, in singular) in Sweden. Although today is the official day to eat them, semlor are often sold in bakeries and cafés from the beginning of February – if not end of January. I baked some vegan ones with one of my housemates two weeks ago, they were very good – you can see them on the pictures above.

What are semlor?

Semlor are a traditional Swedish pastry. They are basically composed of:

  • puff pastry
  • whipped cream
  • marcipan
  • sugar on top

It can be very heavy to eat, but I really like it. They really are tradition here, almost as much as kanelbullar! Yesterday, was even organized an event at university to eat some – but I did not go because I had to study…

Swedish dictionary – Systembolaget

Systembolaget sign.

Here is a word you definitely need to know in Sweden: Systembolaget is the state-owned store where you buy alcohol.

Well, it is the store where you buy drinks with more than 3,5% of alcohol. Below this amount, drinks can be bought in a regular supermarket.

A few rules to abide by

To enter Systembolaget, you need to be at least 20 years-old. And don’t try to mess with this rule. If you are less than 20, you can’t even be with someone who is buying for you. They won’t be able to buy alcohol if they are with an under-aged person. Plus, you will be systematically asked for your ID at the check-out, no matter how old you are. So, no cheating.

Prices are high

Drinks are taxed based on their alcohol rate. This leads to high prices, especially for spirits such as rhum or vodka. Beers and ciders are sold by unit. Count between 10kr and 30kr for a single beer or cider.

Restrictive opening hours

You can find Systembolaget stores in almost every cities in Sweden, and they all approximately have the same opening hours:

  • 10-19 from Monday to Friday
  • 10-15 on Saturday
  • closed on Sunday

This makes it a necessity to organize yourself if you want to buy alcohol, before a party for instance. As a French citizen I am used to go to the nearest supermarket at 9pm before heading to a dinner or a party, but here I have to think about it days before! So sometimes you have to call your friends and ask them to get alcohol from you if you don’t have time to go – and then, you can Swish them.

Swedish Dictionary – What is… fika?

Unsplash/Sarah Swinton


This morning our neighbors invited my housemates and I for fika, as well as other people living in our street. So, we went to their house and enjoyed a nice morning gathering.

Fika = cosy coffee break

Fika is the traditional coffee break. It usually takes place in the afternoon like the French “goûter” or the British “tea-time”. But it can be organized at any time! You can have fika with friends, your family or your partner, at home or in a coffee shop.

Swedish coffee shops are really cosy and usually offer a wide range of sweets and candy, such as carrot cake, chocolate cake or the traditional cinnamon buns (kanelbullar). On the side, you can drink coffee or tea.

My favorite fika combo is a Chai Tea with a piece of cheese cake, carrot cake or Daimstårta (a pie with Daim’s candy !).