December 08, 2008
"The Christmas Girl."
In my house, every year during the Christmas Holidays, a special statue of a young girl is always on display in my window. She is dressed in red and holds a basket of apples in one hand and a candle in the other. The girl is sculpted according to a well known Christmas drawing by a famous Swedish painter Carl Larsson, representing his daughter Brita.
This is indeed a very familiar and traditional image to all Swedes and the name of the drawing is "Brita As Idun". Idun is the name of a Goddess in the Norse Mythology, which is indicative off youth or the forever young, thus the apple symbolism. Brita as Idun can be found often depicted on Christmas cards and printed on table clothes and other fabrics. Or painted on china and made into pottery or small statues, such as the one in my possession.
I was given this "Christmas Girl" as gift about 7 years ago while spending Christmas with my parents in Sweden. On the day of Christmas Eve, while my mother stayed in to prepare dinner, my father, me, my sister and her husband went to a small pottery shop that was still open; it was magical to be there. My father bought two of these "Christmas Girls" statues; one for me and for my sister. He and my mother already had one themselves; that is where the inspiration originated the previous day.
The girl has since then become almost a family symbol of the holidays. Gazing at Brita while she smiles and holds a lit candle makes me feel closer to my family, which is spread all over Europe. It warms my heart knowing that my family members are perhaps, in the same moment, looking at the Christmas Girl as well.