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Julgask at Värmlands 2006 December 20

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Food & Drink, Social Life, Swedish Holidays.
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I made it to my third and final gasque of the term with a julgask (Christmas gasque) at my nation, Värmlands, on 2 December. I had unfortunately forgotten my song book and was upset at myself for that, because it’s tradition to write in each others’ song books (and as I discovered at this gasque, it’s also tradition to bite each others’ songbooks!). That’s okay, though, I had a program for my table neighbors to sign.


This was my place-setting! It’s a pepparkaka (a gingerbread cookie, except Swedish gingerbread is thinner).

This gasque was a little different from some of the other gasques in that it was a julbord. A julbord (literal translation: Christmas table) is like a smörgåsbord (literal translation: sandwich table), except that it’s designed especially for Christmas. Amongst many other goods, we had plenty of lax (salmon), inlagd sill (pickled herring; not to be confused with surströmming, which is fermented Baltic herring!), julskinka (Christmas ham), knäckebröd (a hard, typically square bread), and leverpastej (liver pâté).

Left: me and Sebbie! We were tablemates!; Right: Kalle and Andreas

It was definitely the longest gasque I’ve ever attended. I like attending the gasques in which Swedish is the primary language spoken (that is, any gasque but the ones for international students) because people are more willing to comply with tradition, and that’s what they’re all about: tradition. My advice to anyone who wants to have the full experience of a gasque is to go to other gasques besides the international gasque. That’s not to say that the international gasque isn’t very fun; the reason to go to the international gasque is to become acquainted with other international students, and to learn some of the gasque operations in English so that the other gasques are easier to understand.

Anyhow, this gasque was scheduled to begin around 18dk (18 dubbelkvarter = 18:00 = 6pm), and we spent the first fourty-five minutes socializing. The pre-dinner drink was glögg instead of champagne. Glögg is a spiced wine served warm, and it’s best with some skinned almonds and raisins.

Like I seem to mention anytime I talk about a gasque, there’s a lot of tradition, and it often comes in the form of entertainment. As usual, there was plenty of entertainment during the julgask. There was a Luciatåg (Lucia train celebrating St. Lucia) and a performance of the poem Tomte. There were also a few speeches. However, the best entertainment of the entire night was this ongoing feud with Gotlands nation. Now, I’m not entirely sure if we’re usually rivals with Gotlands, but we started out the Gotlands rivalry with a song about Gotlands. It had something to do with tidelag (um… beastiality – don’t kill the messenger!) and Gotlands being the antichrist. It came with a disclaimer that nobody really holds this opinion of Gotlands and that tidelag really isn’t their thing, of course.

Members from Gotlands later came to the gasque with their flag, and sang a song for us opposing our song, and we then sung the Gotlands is the antichrist song again. They followed that with stealing some of our chairs and decorations while we ate.

That wasn’t it for the Gotlands bashing, though. We sung this song about the hockey player Håkan Loob. Håkan Loob is a hockey player from Gotland who found great success with the Swedish national team and playing in Värmland, becoming more Värmland’s player than theirs. Here’s the song:

Det är Loob, Det är Loob
Det är våran Håkan Loob
När han rör vid pucken gör han mål
Det är våran Håkan Loob

Stranger yet, this song was being sung when I came out of the restroom after a bathroom break, and everyone was running around the building, hand-in-hand, up the staircase, through the library, into the pub, and back into the main hall!

This gasque had to have been my favorite gasque thus far.

See the rest of the julgask pictures on Flickr!

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