View Full Version : kärve

18-03-05, 18:59
Did the Swede-Finn farmers keep the Swedish tradition of putting out kärve and did they/do they buy Christmas kärve (Julkärve) bound in red. Thanks!

link (http://www.parentnetsweden.com/Infopages/Resources/Sweden_directory/Swedish_christmas_holidays.htm)

19-03-05, 10:05
That tradition is live and well. Farmers put out them, and city folks too if they have an own back yard. The kärve (sheaf?) is in fact a well selling article in the weeks before Christmas.

Below is a picture of the one I put out just before Christmas in an apple tree. It is worn by the weather by now and the rabbits have taken their share of the oat ears. The birds seem to like still, so I have let the sheaf hang there.


19-03-05, 19:08
Thank you for the picture and response. My Swede-Finn great grandfather married a Swede-Swede, so it is sometimes not clear where traditions came from -- Finland or Sweden. I am also studying heraldry, and the red-bound kärve is used in some shields, so that also interested me.


20-03-05, 14:35
The Swedish royal family Wasa had a sheaf in it's coat of arms. Vase has the same meaning as kärve and sheaf. Therefore there is a sheaf also in the town coat of arms for Vasa in Österbotten, because it was named after the Swedish king.


Dolores Luczak
20-03-05, 15:38
I found this very interesting, I think I will do this next year for Christmas, Here in the U.S. we decorate with corn stalks for thanksgiving or harvest time.

So what kind of grain do they use, wheat, rye, oats?

And when is it put out? Dec. 12th?
I would like to know more of the traditions and where they originated.

Dolores :)

22-03-05, 01:41
Here is the text from the link inthe first message. Someone wrote me privately that the store bought ones are oat or wheat, but the farmers use whatever grain they harvest, including rye.

Something for the birds....Julkärve
Have you seen sheaves of oat stalks and seeds, often tied with a cheery red ribbon, in the plant section at your local supermarket? Well, that's julkärve. These sheaves of oat appear in stores and at Christmas markets shortly before Christmas. The sheaves are placed outdoors in a place that is accessible to birds, usually in tall branches difficult for cats to access.

Tying kärve is another tradition that precedes Christianity. Way back then, Swedish farmers presented the kärve to birds as a symbolic gift: sort of a plea to the birds to eat the kärve, and not the crops!

Ideas about kärve could vary from region to region. In Uppland, farmers feared poor crops the following summer if the birds found the kärve too soon. In Skåne, farmers believed that if there were many different species of birds feasting on the kärve, it would be a hard winter. And, it was bad luck indeed if the kärve fell to the ground.
An important part of the tradition was that the very last sheaf of grain harvested should be used as the kärve. During the 1700s priests tried to eliminate the tradition, calling it hedonistic. They didn't succeed; instead, kärve became associated with Christmas.