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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- “Holidays in Sweden” Series at SwedishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Swedish holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 15, Fat Tuesday. In Swedish, it’s called fettisdagen.
Fat Tuesday, also known Semel Day, or semeldagen in Sweden, is a moveable feast day that is celebrated no earlier than February 3 and no later than March 9 each year.
In this lesson, you’ll learn what Fat Tuesday is, and how it’s celebrated in Sweden.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Do you know what Swedes believed it meant if the snow melted and water ended up dripping from the roofs on Fat Tuesday?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Fat Tuesday is the last Tuesday before a long fasting period, or fasteperiod, in the Christian calendar. The day occurs 47 days before Easter and is therefore variable. The name Fat Tuesday is formed from the words fet which means "fat", and tisdag which means "Tuesday", where fat refers to getting fat from all the good food that was eaten on that day. The word has been used since 1594 in Sweden.
In the old days in Sweden, before the fasting started, people would eat meat or pork, depending on how much they could get. People also whipped each other with fasting-twigs, or fastlagsris, in accordance with a custom from the 1600s. This meant that the father of the house whipped the family members with the twigs, either on Fat Tuesday or Good Friday morning. It was supposed to be a symbolic reminder of Jesus' suffering.
Nowadays we don’t fast before Easter, and instead we only celebrate Fat Tuesday by eating buns! In the past, there was a particular bun called a hetvägg, which was a baked bun filled with almond paste. It came to Sweden in the 1700s, while the more common bun, or semlan, first appeared in the early 1900s. This bun is baked with white flour and filled with whipped cream and marzipan. That’s where the name Semel Day comes from.
It’s sometimes argued that King Adolf Fredrik died from eating too many buns during Fat Tuesday in 1771. In reality, he died of a stroke after a huge meal. Many felt that Fat Tuesday should be banned because it murdered a royal!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know what Swedes believed it meant if the snow melted and water ended up dripping from the roofs on Fat Tuesday?
They believed it meant that the cows would milk well during the summer, and the grains would grow to be the same size as the water droplets, or vattendroppar.
How did you find this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you have any similar baked goods in your country?
Leave us a comment letting us know at SwedishPod101.com. And we'll see you in the next lesson!