On the 25th of March the crane returns with longer days. Well, this is what our Scandinavian ancestors believed, and one of the occasions that marked the change of season before they had a calendar to track time. When the calendar later was introduced many of these natural occurrences would get their own date – and so the 25th of March officially became the day the crane returns, and spring begins. This day has later been called ‘vårfru’ (meaning ‘maiden’) and signified that it was time for farmers to prepare the fields for a new season. If it became ‘Our Lady’s day’ according to Christianity or ‘vårfru’ first I’m not entirely certain, but this day does seem to have been around for a long time to the mark the end of winter.
And waffles? Well, there are theories that in some Swedish accents ‘vårfru’ sounded much like the German ‘waffel’, and thus the connection to waffles. When I think of waffles I remember growing up. We didn’t make waffles often enough (at least from me-as-a-kid’s point of view). I have one memory of when we visited my grandmother. It was a large Sunday dinner, and all the adults were waiting for desert – waffles. I still recall the long table of relatives and acquaintances, the best plates and utensils in front of me. My grandmother served first the children first – and we were practically gobbling down waffle after waffle. I felt as if I could eat waffles forever, but I’m sure we got full eventually.
Nicko told me that his relatives in Bulgaria, whom they visited almost every summer growing up, had never heard of waffles. So, one summer they brought a waffle maker as a gift. And their relatives would make waffles for the tourists visiting the beach by the Black Sea.
My family and I used to travel to north of Sweden every winter for the skiing season, and many summers we’d go north hiking too. Winter mountains are magnificent, but the summer is still my favourite. Sure, there’ll be a lot of mosquitoes, but there’s an explosion of tiny wildflowers, little brooks singing and the soothing perfume of the mountains. In August the cloudberries are ripe. They grow in marshlands, even around here in the middle of Sweden. In the north of Sweden, we call the restaurants serving waffles ‘våffelstuga’ (‘waffle hut’ which doesn’t have quite the same ring in English), and here waffles are traditionally served with cloudberry jam and cream.
So, when I think of waffles, I think of waffles with cloudberry jam and cream.
What are your favourite waffle toppings?
P.S. Most waffles are nice, but beware of the zombie waffle. I hear it eats toes.