Stockholm Stadsmuseum

In Stockholm at the Stadsmuseum in January 2007, we were greeted with an entire floor of the museum devoted entirely to folklore and old swedish customs (we'd actually gone there to see an exhibition about wallpaper). The folklore section had a vague sense of being an almost forgotten part of the building: in that traditional museum way, everything seemed to be covered in a thin layer of dust, and the figures used in the displays had a clunky quality about them. All qualities that assure me there will be something appealing somewhere. Unfortunately the captions were all in Swedish, so I everything I write is a half remembered interpretation of what I was told by a friend who was with us.

© Lizzie Ridout

The above image shows a bottle of dew, collected on Midsummer's day. This dew, if used in baking assured a good loaf and also a healthy constitution. The other option was to roll around in your neighbour's dew-laden field on Midsummer's morning to guarantee good luck through the rest of the year. In Finland anyone who finds the seed of a fern in bloom on Midsummer's night will be able to travel unseen and invisible.

© Lizzie Ridout

Above are photos taken of funeral sweets. The sweets were packaged in net and decorated with silk flowers and cut out paper images. Some of them even look like they incorporate woven hair. This custom of making sweets (which never get eaten and are instead saved as a memento) was also carried out at babies’ christenings. Nourishment for the beginning and the end of a life.