Bridge to Sweden
Newsletter no 37
Norrtälje, our home town
... Merry Christmas... The Swedish word JUL is of course the same word as the English Yule. Pronounced almost the same way.
Let's start the Jul season right away with
a celebration of light, so important at a time
when the sun
rises late and sets early. In Sweden on December 13
each year Lucia and her attendants wake us up in the
song and candles
There has been no Bridge to Sweden newsletter for a very long time, and some of you have noticed it and wondered why. I have not given up on it, but time - there seems to never be enough of it. So my research work for many of you and trips during the summer, all that has had priority, naturally. Not to talk about a trip to Canada and the United States to spend time with my children and grandchildren!
Are you thinking of visiting Sweden next year?
I know, right now you are very busy preparing for the holidays, and traveling plans have to wait. But then - after Jul and Nyår (New Year) you might want to start.
1. Do you know what places you want to visit? The villages where your ancestors lived, and the towns where your relatives now live? If not, it's time to find out, so you can make detailed plans. If you need help, just send me an email, the sooner the better!
2. What airport should you fly into? Most flights will take you to Stockholm, and I suggest that you start your trip there. Rest up in our beautiful capital for a day or two, walk around town, sit at an outside café or take a boat trip around the city or in the archipelago. From Stockholm you can then take the train, or rent a car, to explore further. If you decide to travel with us, we'll pick you up at your hotel in Stockholm, then travel by train to "your" area.
This video is rather long, (and unfortunately includes a short advertising) but interesting as it teaches you much about Stockholm, its archipelago, and especially its people. No everything in Sweden is not rosy, but much is...
3. Where do you stay in Sweden? There are, of course, different types of accomodations. You could stay in simple but comfortable vandrarhem (youth hostels - yes, you can stay there even if you are 90 years old!), bed and breakfast type hotels, stadshotell (city hotels - to avoid on weekends, since they also serve as night clubs for the locals - unless you would like to join in, of course), small local family type hotels (my own preference and what I chose for our guests, when possible), and modern bigger hotels. Your choice! If your grandmother came from a small town, you will probably not find any accomodations there, so you will have to look for a bigger town or city.
4. What will the weather be like? Very hard to predict, especially these days. Our guests and friends Judy and Allen know well how cold it can be, even in June, so take a warm sweater, a jacket and good shoes. And don't forget your rain jacket! Leave your fancy clothes at home (OK, no law against them), since casual clothes work fine even when you visit your relatives.
Oh, you have not
started your research yet!
grandpa change his name when emigrating?
changes while in Sweden
Late in the 1800’s each family started to use the same name, so mom, dad and all of the children used Eriksson or Bengtsson as their last name. Kristina Andersdotter, whom you met above, then became Kristina Karlsson. In the records you might find that Kristina first used Andersdotter, then later on changed to Andersson. Just to confuse you!
Certain groups of people used the same family name for many generations, especially the rather small minority who were not farmers and workers. There you might find names such as Riddarstråle and Lejonhuvud, dating back many centuries.
Anders and Johan and Erik were very common first names, so there were lots of Andersson, Johansson and Eriksson children in Sweden. In order to avoid confusion people started to invent new names, often using the names of trees, flowers etc (see below)but also from the places where they lived.
These name changes, of course, might cause big problems for those of you who want to find your Swedish relatives. I once searched for my great-grandfather (mormorsfar) and assumed that his name would be the same as my grandmother’s, Landquist. Not so! On grandma’s birth certificate her father was Johan Magnusson (Magnus was his father's first name), later changed to Landquist.Names from nature
Swedes’ love of nature is reflected in names such as Ask (ash tree), Björk (birch tree), Berg (mountain) and composite names such as Sjöstrand (lake shore), Blomkvist (flower twig) and Ekström (oak stream).
Nature words, used in names:
Lind linden tree
Lund grove of trees
Löv (löf) leaf
Kvist (quist or qvist) twig
Dal (dahl) valley
Fält (feldt) field
Äng (eng) meadow
Holme small island
Sund sound, channel
Nord, norr north
Other nature words
Soldiers were often given new names as they entered the military, to avoid confusion because of many with common patronymic names. So the military gave new names to most soldiers such as Skjöld (shield), Tapper (courageous), Hjelm (helmet), and also Dolk (dagger), Flink (quick), Hurtig (lively), Munter (happy), Sträng (stern). Even the soldier's children often used these new names. Note that these names tend to be very short.
If you believe your name might be a soldier's name, and you have questions, just send me an email and I'll try to help.
Changes of Swedish
The k sound was earlier spelled q, for example in Qvarnböle or Qvidinge. The spelling of these place names was later changed to Kvarnböle and Kvidinge.
The ä sound used to be spelled e in for example Westergötland, now spelled Västergötland.
There were other changes in spelling too, but these are the most common ones that might cause you problems.
Perhaps you now have a better idea about the name your grandfather might have used in Sweden, before emigration. Now check this page to learn what other information you need in order to get started with your research. . Remember that previous newsletters might have information that you can use, so I suggest that you try them out.
If you find this newsletter helpful, and you believe that one or several of your relatives and friends might also enjoy it, please send it on to them. And, of course, if you no longer want to subscribe to it, just let me know and I'll remove your name from my list of subscribers.
God Jul and Gott Nytt År 2016!