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Do you see those dark looking cakes hanging from the roof? These form the bread of the household, though we think they do not look much like bread, at least, not much like the bread we have in England. You know that our bread is made from wheat; but wheat does not grow well in such a cold country as Sweden; rye grows much better, and this dark looking bread is made from rye.
The Swedes, as the people of Sweden are called, bake their rye bread only two or three times a year : and what a baking it is, to be sure! It lasts for a week or more, and how busy every one is! They do not bake this bread in loaves, but they make it in flat cakes about the size of a dinnerplate, with a large hole in the middle.
When these cakes get a little stale, they are strung on a pole just as you would string beads on a thread; and then the ends of the pole are put through loops that hang from the ceiling, and the bread is left there till it is wanted. Sometimes it gets so hard
before it is used that they are obliged to break it with a hatchet.
Just after baking time the ceiling seems covered with these poles. Some of them are loaded with coarser and darker cakes than the others. This very coarse kind is for the cottager's horse. The Swede is very kind to his horse, and when he goes a journey with him, he does not forget to take a few of these coarse cakes. Every now and then he lets his horse rest, and gives him a cake to eat while he stands patting and talking to him.
The Swedish children have a very happy Christmas time, and a long one, too, for they keep it up for thirteen days. On Christmas eve we see very bright happy faces round the Christmas tree, which is loaded with all sorts of pretty things ;-and what games the children have! Sometimes, in the midst of their play, the younger ones are frightened by hearing a low growl outside the door; but the older ones don't look very much alarmed; indeed, they seem delighted to hear the sound.
When the door is opened, in comes a shaggy bear, dragging a sledge full of good things--apples and oranges, and parcels having on them the names of the children who are to receive them. These he takes round, growling all the time. By degrees the younger children lose their fears, and at last become great friends with the good-natured bear. I daresay you have found out by this time that he is not a bear at all.
At length the happy evening is over, and they all go to bed for a few hours. They must be up very early in the morning, for in country places on Christmas morning the sledges are at the door long before daylight, to take the family to church.
These are not such small sledges as those the boys use in their play ; they are made after pretty much the same fashion, but they will hold two or three, or even four persons each. The horse which draws the sledge has little bells on his head, which “ tinkle," " linkle,” as the sledge glides smoothly over the snow. The children have looked forward for
. 29 some time to this ride in the early morning—when the stars are still peeping out above their heads.
After a time, a merry peal of bells is heard, and in the distance a building, with light shining from every window, is seen standing out on the snowy plain. As we get nearer, we may hear the sweet voices of children singing their Christmas carols. And here we will leave them, wishing them many more such happy Christmas times.
THE COW. COME with me to the top of that hill.
Here we are at the highest point of it, so that we can see all round us for a long way. Look down into that field
in front of us, and notice how green and bright the grass looks after the rain.
On Monday, when it came so fast upon us, and spoiled our school feast, you were very angry at losing a long happy day out of doors; but see how much the cows like to feed on the sweet grass !-which only wanted the rain to make it grow for them.
They are lying down as if they had ended their meal, but they are still moving their mouths and chewing their food. Did you see them before they were lying down, while they were pulling at the grass ?
If you were quite close to a cow, when she is feeding, you would see that she does not bite off a piece of long grass, as the horse does, nor nibble close down to the ground like the sheep, but she puts out her tongue, -which is long, and very rough,—and then tears the grass off with it.
When she thinks she has taken enough to last her as long as she wants it to last her, she lies down and chews it, as