The Swedish year is marked by many recurring events. There are the obvious ones, like Christmas and Easter, which are celebrated in Australia too. There are a whole lot of other Christian festivals that secular Australians hardly recognise but which are well known and remembered here – like Pentecost and Ascension Day and All Saints Day. Then there are the seasonal celebrations which are specially Scandinavian, like Midsummer (around June 21), and Valborg (April 30, when we celebrate the end of winter and the coming of Spring). Then there are the more political celebrations, like the first of May when people march in the streets and listen to political speakers promoting the wonders of socialism, and Sweden’s national day, which is the first Sunday in June. Then there are days which celebrate food – some old, like fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday – the day before Ash Wednesday), when we eat semlor (cream buns), and some new, like kanelbulledagen (Cinnamon Roll Day) when we celebrate the ubiquitous kanelbulle.
But there are even other traditions in Sweden which I have come to appreciate, and one is the annual book sale (bokrea). It comes every year at the end of February. Traditionally all the bookshops have a massive sale with huge markdowns and it is a great chance to pick up bargains. Hardcover novels sell for around $AU10. I have always been amazed by how many Swedish homes have extensive collections of hardcover books, and now I understand why. I have hardly ever bought hard cover books in Australia, they are too expensive. Books seem to me to be a very important part of life here. People read a lot.
Today is the last day of the annual book sale. The tables have been well picked over by now. I picked up some bargains a few weeks ago. Now I just have to read them.