Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Swedish Fairies. Seriously.

Fairies creep me out. A lot. Something about them being so small and sneaky just makes my skin crawl. And they kind of remind me of cats in their sneakiness. Cats and I don’t really get along.

Swedish folklore is full of fairies. If you ever wander through the Swedish forest at dusk in the late fall you’ll understand real quick where the troll and fairy folklore comes from. The thick vegetation, the undergrowth, it all lends itself to an active imagination.

But you don’t need to have an active imagination to understand that fairies walk amongst us. Not in some sort of derogatory gay bashing either. For the past 15 years, Sweden has actually had a fairy contest. Water fairies to be exact. They even have a special Water Fairy of the Year website in Swedish.

I’m going to come right out and say it. This was news to me. And I have thelocal.se to thank for that. As always, The Local is breaking news that the English speaking community in Sweden needs to know.

For example, this year was the first in which a saxophone playing fairy was recognized. About 400 people watched the competition. Which just goes to show that the recession is hitting hard in Sweden. Because 400 people watching five naked men play instruments while trying to capture the spirit of a water fairy can only mean one thing. There are way too many unemployed people in Sweden.

I urge everyone to click on “Naked horn player named Sweden's Water Fairy of the Year” to read The Local’s coverage. And check out the video below from TV4. It’s in Swedish but has some things that everyone needs to experience. Like male nudity being shown on a news program. Which doesn’t happen every day in the US.

Welcome to Sweden. And water fairies.

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  1. Fairies are in Celtic folklore, they don't appear in Scandinavian. I know that translating the Swedish names to English may be rough, but there are several names that are less misleading than fairies. For example, Dwarves and Kracken are both from Scandinavia, but they're hardly fairies.

  2. A facebook quiz told me I'm a water fairy. ;)

    I'd take the forests over there with all the mythical creatures over the forests over here with all the real live things that want to eat me. Just sayin'.

  3. whoa! naked men!

  4. @anonymous - fairies have appeared in Swedish foklore for hundreds of years. while they are more prominent in Celtic (and French for that matter) folklore they do appear in Swedish and have done so for quite some time.

    Näck, I believe is the best translation and while not a direct translation to fairy it becomes something along the lines of a spirit. which is essentially what we're looking at.

    @E - Sweden does have a decided lack of thing that will eat you. But the ones they do have that will eat you are kind of creepy. Like wolves. Or wolverines.

    @anonymous - naked men playing the saxophone.

  5. Hi there! Didn't see an email so decided to use this form to communicate. I really enjoy your blog and am also half-Swedish: born in Stockholm, raised in the US. Anyway, just saying hello and wondering if you had any advice on finding a job in Stockholm. Will be living there for a while starting mid-August and would like some kind of income (perhaps this is fruitless). Thanks!!!


  6. Hmmm, I see that my earlier comment didn't come through. Wonder where it went...

    Oh well, I try to remember what extremely important I had to say.

    Okey, so I thought that we finns have quite weird games & competitions & happenings in the summer time, but this one wins them all. We (and by we I don't obviously mean me) compete in throwing mobile phones and boots, carrying wives, playing soccer in a swamp etc, but a näcktävling. Leaves me speachless. Almost.

    Laughed out loud to the video, but then again I have to give some respect for the originality and the courage. And also, as a finn it is of course always nice to see our correct neighbours act bizarre. That doesn't happen too often so this was a luxury.

    Thanks Hairy!


  7. Well, Swedish "faries" are called Älvor and are far more related to elves.

  8. i have no problem with folkrolls and fairies as i always think of them as very beautiful small nice creatures but these ugly as sin naked guys just don't look like fairy images you get by a quick image search in yahoo. i just wonder why on the earth someone wanna watch these crawling new species?! don't worry i got you the answers too!
    i say there are two explanations for this phenomenon!
    1.when people duck conversation with others and try to be alone all the times, then they need wierd entertainments as well another one might be as a result of that recession hit, that you 've mentioned !
    any way it just makes me feel sick in my stomach as they say "eashhh"!!

  9. Living in NYC, this is just another day in the East Village - of course the babbling brook and forest setting here make this much more appealing...

  10. @Jenny – shoot me an e-mail at aswedishamericaninsweden at gmail dot com.

    Its definitely possible to get a job. Not easy, but possible. Start looking now is my best advice. Check sites like thelocal.se and workey.se.

    But send me an e-mail and I can write a bit more.

    @anonymous – its lost in space. But I think you summarized what was going on nicely. Ridiculous. Kind of ballsy (see what I did there). Original. It has it all really.

    @anonymous – see now I think we’re just kind of splitting hairs.

    @Lake – it is pretty ridiculous. I am still at a loss to explain exactly how this happened. And not only how, but also that this has been going on for several years. And people watch it.

    @J Catlow – I’m not sure if that makes me want to visit NYC or not. Because I found this to be hilarious, slightly disturbing, but hilarious.

  11. And they say people from Kentucky are strange.

  12. That is one of the funniest things I've ever heard. Oh my, rough economy indeed. XD

  13. @kathy - its true. But I feel fairly confident that if a group of five men got naked, pretended to be fairies, and played instruments in a babbling brook in Kentucky, about 400 people would show up to watch. Of course, by watch I mean protest and possibly riot.

    @anonymous - seriously. just a glorious display of weirdness.

  14. after living in Sweden a couple years, this seems like one of those stories for the sake of being edgy. Slow news day perhaps?

  15. Most Swedes have four weeks of summer vacation in July, so people can have a day off in the middle of the week and still be employed!

    After taking four weeks off for the summer, most people still have (at least) two weeks left for the rest of the year. Life could be worse.... ;-)

    /A Swede in California

  16. Kentuckians wouldn't riot. They'd wonder where the bubbas found the moonshine.

  17. Last year, an American won the competition :)

  18. http://www.näck.nu/historik.htm

  19. @rednk – unfortunately, this was the 15th year of the competition…

    @anonymous – it’s true, but I’d like to think that the Swedes wouldn’t waste a day on watching naked men playing instruments in the woods.

    @kathyb – from the looks of that video, they’d be right to look for that moonshine, because those fairies must be doing some serious homebrewing.

    @anonymous – I know… I saw that… I’m not sure whether I should be proud or embarrassed. I think I choose embarrassed.

    @anonymous – I know. Again. But why? Why?

  20. At least these guys have a sense of humour... unlike the porcupine-baiting rednecks in Idaho.

    Jämtland! Jämtland! Jämtland!

  21. oh come on now. clearly the racing of porcupines is so much funnier than naked men pretending to be fairies.