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HOLIDAY

Did you know today is an unofficial ‘national day’ in Sweden?

Living in Småland and wondering what all the fuss about the first Thursday in March is? Here's everything you need to know about the increasingly popular "fössta tossdan i mass" celebration.

Did you know today is an unofficial 'national day' in Sweden?
Photo: Meénakshi Bredberg

Today is the first Thursday in March, a normal, boring “första torsdagen i mars” everywhere in Sweden. Well not quite everywhere, because people from Småland in the south have started to celebrate this special day by calling it “fössta tossdan i mass” and eating as much marzipan cake as possible!

But why? Did something of historical relevance happen? Is it the birthday of a famous Smålander? Or a special religious holiday? The answer is… none of the above.

Rather, it’s just a celebration of the way Smålanders talk. They simply find their pronunciation of “första torsdagen i mars” amusing. Their accent means they drop their “r”, creating “fössta tossdan i mass”.  

But it doesn’t stop with giving the day a name…

Smålanders are not only aware, but also proud, of the way they talk. So with that in mind, five years ago a local called Jonas Sveningsson created a Facebook page dedicated to this special day. It took off, and now has just over 8,000 likes and followers.

No Swedish celebration is complete without a celebratory food, so the marzipan cake was adopted as the sweet treat of choice for the day. Why marzipan cake? It all comes back to the Småland accent, of course. The boring “marsipan tårta” becomes a way more fun “massipan tååta” in Småland. And like all Swedes, Smålanders love an excuse to eat something tasty. 

And it turns out people from Småland have reason to be proud: it’s the home of Astrid Lindgren, Ikea and Agnetha Fältskog from Abba, three global Swedish icons.

“The event is now a celebration in the whole of Småland, we are proud we have many famous companies and celebrities from here,” Smålander Meénakshi Bredberg explained to The Local.


Agnetha Fältskog (second from the right) probably also enjoys celebrating with a nice “massipan tååta”. Photo: Olle Lindeborg/TT

So there you go: now you’re an expert on why Smålanders eat lots of cake and celebrate their unique way of speaking on “fössta tossdan i mass”.

They’re not the only Swedes with their own take on the Swedish language though. Read more about some local words from Skåne, further south.

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SWEDISH

Swedish recipe: How to make warm goats’ cheese salad with cranberries

Food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe for a Swedish sweet and cheesy salad, perfect for the summertime.

Swedish recipe: How to make warm goats' cheese salad with cranberries
Warm goats' cheese salad with cranberries. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

Swedes produce some wonderful goats’ cheeses and often serve them in warm salads. Although it is hard to buy Swedish goats’ cheeses outside of Sweden this salad works well with any soft goats’ cheese.

The use of dried cranberries and maple syrup in the dressing makes the salad quite sweet, but as a small starter it is perfect for entertaining especially for anyone with a slightly sweet tooth.

*Although the Swedish for cranberries is tranbär many Swedes now refer to them as cranberries, so some young Swedes wouldn't even know what tranbär look like!

Summary

Makes: 2 Servings

Preparation: 25 Minutes

Cooking: 10 Minutes

Ingridients

Goats' cheese balls

20g (1/3 cup) dried breadcrumbs, preferably panko

2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 egg, mixed with 1 tbsp of water

100g (4 oz) soft goats´heese

2tbsp sunflower oil

Salad and dressing

20g (1/3 cup) dried breadcrumbs, preferably panko

60g (1/4 cup) shallots, diced

1 tbsp light olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp maple syrup (or use honey if you prefer)

60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

50g (1 1/2 cups) salad leaves, washed

2 tbsp dried cranberries

Method

1. Mix the breadcrumbs, parsley, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

2. Put the egg mixture in another bowl.

3. Cut the cheese into six and roll each piece into a small ball.

4. Dip the balls into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs, ensuring that each ball is evenly coated. Cover and chill for at least an hour.

5. Meanwhile heat a small frying pan over a medium high heat. When hot add the pinenuts and toast for 2 minutes, shaking regularly, until golden brown. Transfer to a dish and set aside.

6. Heat 1 tablespoon of light olive oil and sauté the shallots slowly until soften and golden brown.

7. Add the vinegar and maple syrup and reduce for a minute or so.

8. Remove from the heat and whisk in 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

9. When ready to serve, toss the salad leaves in half the dressing and divide between 2 serving plates.

10. Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the goats’ cheese balls and brown them evenly (3-4 minutes).

11. Place the cooked goats’ cheese balls on each plate of salad and sprinkle over the dried cranberries, toasted pinenuts and the remaining dressing. Serve immediately.

Tips

– Everything can be prepared in advance up to the end of step 8, leaving the dish to be finished off when required.

– Use panko breadcrumbs if possible for a crispier coating – you will probably find them in the Japanese foods section of your supermarket.

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.