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Ingrid Brinck - 1957-58

Ingrid Describes The System Of Modern Swedish Schools
by Ingrid Brinck
In Sweden compulsory schooling begins at the age of seven when the children have their first test, which shows if they are able to start school. If the test results are satisfactory, children are accepted as “forstaklassare” in an elementary school.
Here they may stay for eight years and then be done with school, or they can elect to leave, after the fourth or sixth class (or year), for a secondary school of theoretical type or for a girls’ school.
During the past year, however, a comprehensive school system has been started, which means that the students can remain in the elementary school for nine years and get some of the training which is given in a secondary school. This would diminish the crowd of students who want to attend a secondary school.
The secondary school is divided into two parts – realskola (junior high school), which lasts for five, four or three years, and gymnasium (senior high school) which lasts for four or three years.
In the junior high school, the following subjects are required: religion, Swedish, English, German, mathematics, physics, chemistry, history, biology, geography, music and gymnastics.
The girls are also requested to take homemaking for one year and sewing for two years, and the boys are requested to take wood-working.
The students are now able to begin English in the elementary school, while they do not start German until their third year of secondary school.
In the final examinations in the junior high school, students have written examinations in Swedish, English, German and mathematics. Each test lasts for three or four hours and is completed with an oral examination. If the test is passed, the student gets a special grey cap as a reward.
The age for the completion of the junior high school varies from 14 to 16 years, the same as for the elementary school.
Therefore, if the student wants to finish school, he may do so or he can go on to a commercial or technical school. If his grades are good he may continue to the senior high school.
The senior high school is divided into three departments – classical languages, science and modern languages. The student must, however, first pass one or two years of general schooling before he can choose one of these departments.
The final examination, which is held early in the spring, is the same over the whole country and is very difficult to pass. The written examinations last from five to seven hours and are completed with an oral examination.
The oral examination lasts for a whole day, a very exciting day for both the students themselves and also for their parents and friends, who are waiting outside the school with flowers, balloons and embraces.
As a reward, the students this time get a white cap (vita mossap), which is something all pupils look forward to from the very beginning.
The age for this examination (student examin) varies from 19 to 21. After it, the students are ready to go to a university, a professional college or other institutes to carry on in their plan for their final work.
Oberlin News-Tribune, Oberlin, Ohio, 
Thursday, November 28, 1957, p. 5C.


Ingrid Describes Swedish Festival
By Ingrid Brink
Tomorrow is a special day in Sweden. This day is called Santa Lucia. The name Lucia has come from Lucifer who, according to medieval theology, was the king of all trolls (supernatural beings). The night before Santa Lucia was once supposed to be the longest night during the whole year. People closed their houses and stables and made birch twigs, to be ready in case Lucifer should come to visit them.
During the years, however, this custom of being afraid of Lucifer has changed entirely. The day of Lucia is now one of the most beautiful celebrations in Sweden. Lucia is not any longer thought of as being a troll but as a girl who brings light and happiness to people during the dark time before Christmas.
In every town in Sweden a girl is chosen to be Santa Lucia. This girl must be over 18 years old and should have blond hair. Her 12 “Luciamaids” are also chosen by the people of the town.
Early in the morning of the 13th, Lucia and her 12 maids walk around to hospitals and homes of old people. They are all dressed in white gowns with bright red belts and Lucia has a crown of candles in her hair.
The maids carry candles in their hands. They sing the song of “Santa Lucia” and also offer the people coffee and cookies. The cookies for this particular day are called “Luciakatter” and are made of a spicy pastry and raisins.
In the evening, at about 7 o’clock, Lucia and her 12 maids ride around town in a wagon which is decorated with evergreen and flowers. Along the streets the people are standing in big crowds, hoping to see her. The festive procession is led by an orchestra playing the Lucia song.
Having passed around town several times, the festival ends in the public hall, where townspeople have come together to hear Lucia and her 12 maids sing.
Santa Lucia is also celebrated in the individual homes. The children get up early in the morning, about 6 o’clock. They are dressed like Santa Lucia, they sing and they offer their parents coffee and “Luciakatter” while their parents are still in bed.
Even in the Swedish schools Lucia is a day for celebration. During the assembly which is held in the auditorium in the morning, the girl chosen the Lucia of the school comes in with her 12 maids, singing the Lucia song and Christmas songs.
This is how the 13th of December is celebrated in Sweden—a day of lights and a day which leads us into Christmas.
Oberlin News-Tribune, Oberlin, Ohio, 
Thursday, December 12, 1957, p. 5C.

Posted 16 October 2003
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