Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Swedish custom for February 2

In parts of Sweden, February 2nd is called "moving day" because it was traditionally the day when contracts for domestic servants were up, and they could move to another situation (there was a similar day six months later in October).

In addition to the obvious weather-magic divination traditions associated with today, there's also a wonderful tradition in which one toasts to the health of the house-wight who dwells in the hearth.

Tonight I drink the health of "Eldsborg," the name traditionally used. Ours lives in a special stone we keep on the fireplace hearthstone.


2 comments:

  1. Humm... Well written as always, but what is the source ? To the best of my knowledge, I cannot remember that anyone have drunk healths to "Eldsberg" in Sweden. Are you sure that this is thee corrrect spelling ?? There is the concept of "E-l-d-b-o-r-g" (not "berg" which means mountain i both Swedish and German) but this tradition only occurs in Bohuslän province, and it is from the 18th century at the very earliest (according to the Swedish National Encyclopedia, see this link for details: http://www.ne.se/uppslagsverk/encyklopedi/l%C3%A5ng/eldborgs-sk%C3%A5l And what are the parts which have "moving day" relocated to february instead of Michaelsmass or Mickelsmäss ? Not Bohuslän and the south, I wager, since frequent thaws and weak sea ice would have impeded travels... Mid autumn would be much better... Anyhow, long may you prosper, and good Disablot - Erik Matsson, Sweden

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    1. The source is "Peasant Life in Sweden, Illustrated" by Llwellyn Lloyd. You're correct; my old eyes got the spelling wrong. It's "Eldsborg" (corrected in the OP). He places it not just in Bohuslan but in neighboring Nafvestad as well. I am curious as to how anyone can definitively state that such a practice is "from the 18th century at the very earliest), as that implies that no such custom, in any form, existed before then, and was invented from whole-cloth sometime in the 1700's. That seems a bit extreme to me.

      As for Moving Day, as noted in the OP, there are two moving days, as the contracts for servants were six months long (same source, btw), with one in February and the other in October, as you say.

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