All Saints' Day traditions

During Allhelgonahelgen (All Saints Weekend), Sweden’s cemeteries are adorned with flowers and decorated with candlelight in the early winter darkness. 

  • The fruit farms around Kivik. Photographed for Nordic Reach by Andreas Hylthén.
  • Allhelgonahelgen marks two Christian holy days: All Saints' Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls' Day Nov. 2. Historically, each day is distinguished for remembering the lives of the saints and those of loved ones; but in practice, the entire weekend (that closest to November 1 and 2) has candles shining in every Swedish cemetery, lighting up the early winter darkness as a way to remind us of the light of God’s merciful love and remember loved ones.
    Allhelgonahelgen is a weekend of togetherness. On Saturday it’s common to have a special dinner with loved ones, though there isn’t traditional food such as is enjoyed at Christmas or Midsummer. The Allhelgonahelgen meal is likely easy and warm, perhaps with ingredients common to the season, such as pumpkin or apples.
    Here are a couple apple recipes Swedes might make to share with loved ones on this weekend:

  • Favorite apple pie, with a clear taste of Sweden.
  • This apple cake is straight from Sweden – with “signature” ingredients such as mandelmassa (almond paste) and cardamom:

  • Ingredients:
    2/3 cup butter
    1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
    1-1/2 cups flour
    1-1/2 Tablespoons water

  • Filling
    1/2 cup almond paste
    1/2 lemon peel, finely grated
    1/2 cup butter
    2 eggs
    2 ounces sugar
    1/2 teaspoon cardamom
    4 apples

  • Topping
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 ounces almond slivers

  • Instructions:
    1. Mix butter, confectioner’s sugar and flower with a mixer until you have a crumbly dough. Add the water, and continue to mix until you have a smooth dough. Press this dough into a pie dish with removable bottom. Put into the fridge for 20 minutes.
    2. Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Grind the almond paste, but not too fine. Grind the lemon peel on the fine side of the grater. Melt the butter and beat the eggs, and add them to the melted butter along with the sugar. Let simmer until thick, stir often. Take the pot off the heat. Stir in the almond paste, lemon peel and cardamom.
    3. Peel and core the apple, and cut into thin slices. Take the piecrust from the fridge and make small holes with a fork. Pour the almond cream into the crust, arrange the apples slices in a pretty pattern, pour over the sugar and the almond slivers.
    4. Bake the cake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes. Serve with whipped cream.
    European-style marzipan, which is heavier on the almonds and lighter on the sugar, is availableat most Scandinavian specialty stores in the U.S.
    Here’s another delicious recipe found in Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter. It makes just two servings.

  • Ingredients:
    2 apples
    50 g almond paste (or marzipan)
    2 teaspoons calvados (a French apple brandy) or sherry (optional) and
    1 egg white.

  • Instructions:
    Preheat oven to 450 F. Butter an oven-safe pan.
    Do not peel the apples, but core them with a knife and a teaspoon, making sure the bottom stays intact. Mix the almond paste with the egg white (don’t beat it) and the calvados/sherry if you are using it. Put the apples in the pan and fill the cavities with the mixture. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on how firm the apple is. Let the apples cool a bit and serve them with ice cream or whipped cream.