We attended our neice’s christening in Halmstad on Saturday. This was my 2nd such event since moving to Sweden and I’m happy to report that I understood a lot more of the service this time than I did two years ago when our nephew was “dipped.” (The Swedish word for baptism is “dop”, so my use of “dipped” is a legitimate play-on-words an not a swipe at the ritual itself.)
As with most things, they do christenings a little differently here, too. Rather than being part of the regular Sunday morning service when most of the congregation is present and can therefore “welcome the newly baptised into the community of Christ,” christenings are handled in multiples of three at a separate ceremony. The first time I saw this done I was little put off by it and thought the whole thing had a bit of an assembly line feel.
It was exactly the same this time, but I think I’ve figured out why the Swedish Church (Lutheran) handles its baptisms this way. The vast majority of people who attend them are young families (friends and relatives of the new parents) who are never in a church otherwise and consequently their children have no idea how to behave that environment. I counted at least six toddlers in the church and most of them were allowed to chatter and moved about as they pleased throughout the service … our nephew being one of the worst offenders. Suddenly all became clear … why should the rest of the congregation have their Sunday morning service ruined by pre-schoolers running pell-mell all over the sanctuary?
But surviving the chaos of the church service was not the biggest challenge of the day. That turned out
to be missing afternoon fika. I knew how much I enjoyed the ritual of the Swedish afternoon coffee break, but didn’t realize how much I needed the caffeine fix.
The service had started at 2:00 and we were back at the house by 3:00 (the usual fika time), but we drank champagne instead of coffee while the parents opened gifts, and dinner was served shortly thereafter. Not only did I practically fall asleep in my plate, but I felt cranky and irritated throughout the meal. At one point I turned to Dr. Darling and said something along the lines of, “If coffee isn’t served soon, somebody is going to get hurt.”
Unbeknownst to me, pretty much everyone else had “fika’d” BEFORE arriving at the church…which explains why they were all able to be civil to each other. Coffee finally did come with dessert, at around 6 p.m., and under normal circumstance I would have declined it that late in the day for fear of not sleeping well. But this time I gulped down a cup before the cake was even passed to me, and it was quite possibly the BEST coffee I’ve ever had even though I barely tasted it on the way down.