Idén om SWEA tog fart på en julbasar
Nu för tiden har många SWEA-avdelningar en basar eller marknad i samband med jul och Lucia. Här berättar Agneta Nilsson, SWEAs grundare, om en julbasar 1978 och hur den har utvecklats till dagens arrangemang. Artikeln kommer från årets programblad, som SWEA Los Angeles delade ut till besökarna vid deras stora “Christmas Fair” som ägde rum den 7 december 2014.
How it all began …
For many years after my arrival here in Los Angeles in 1963 as a newlywed from Stockholm, I felt that I wanted a stronger connection with my native Sweden. I wanted to follow culture, politics and people closer than we were able to in those days – long before Internet. I was married to the Station manager of SAS here in LA and through him I already had daily contact with Sweden. But I wanted more, both for myself and for the Swedes that lived here at that time.
I had an idea to start a club for Swedish women. Many of them were married to non-Swedes, and we all wanted to preserve our national tongue. One day in 1978 a friend of mine, Margareta Adler, called me and asked if I could help her stage a Swedish Christmas Fair here in December that year. She remembered well the great Swedish Christmas Fair that I helped arrange in 1967 on the tennis court of our then Swedish Consul, Walter Danielson. We had done this to raise funds for our Swedish Church where we had recently formed a Church council, called S:t Erik’s Church. We needed to buy a home for our pastor.
That Christmas Fair was a huge success, it seemed like the whole Swedish colony had come to celebrate that day, and we got the down payment for the pastor’s home. So now Margareta called me and wanted so much to have another Fair like that. I thought it was a great idea and we could get some funds for starting our new “club to be”. So, 11 years after the one on the Consul’s tennis court, we managed to pull off another very successful Fair, now at the Pacific Design Center on Melrose Ave. With the money we raised and with many more names of and addresses to Swedes in Los Angeles, I was ready to start SWEA, Swedish Women’s Educational Association. We had our first meeting in March of 1979.
Today we are having our 35th Christmas Fair, and its essence is pretty similar to our first one, with good Swedish food, Santa Lucia, vendors with Scandinavian handicrafts, dancing around the Christmas tree and Swedish Christmas music. During all these years SWEA members have done this fantastic Fair and kept up a wonderful tradition that, dare I say, has become somewhat of an institution for not only Swedes and Swedish-Americans, but also Americans of all backgrounds. Without our SWEA-members’ volunteer work, it would not be possible. As the founder of SWEA, I am very proud of this event, which is the best way we know of how to share our customs and fine traditions with our fellow Americans.
We have also inspired all our 75 different chapters around the world to have their own Christmas Fairs. It is, for all of us, the most important fundraising of the year.
I wish all of you a great Holiday Season.
Founder and Chairman Emeritus of SWEA International