Heritage (totally un-book-related)

I have had three dirndl-dresses in my childhood. This is part of my heritage. I may have been born and raised in Sweden, my mother is Swedish, but my father is Austrian and I was an Austrian citizen until I was seven. Being mixed, genetically and culturally, has always been a big part of who I am, for better and for worse.

On the down-side, being very much like my father´s relatives (apparently I look and behave very much like an aunt that died during the war), I have not had older relatives that I could really relate to. On the up-side, it has given me an outsider´s perspective on the culture I have grown up in, which I think might have been beneficial for my character. Everyone was "them" when I grew up, the Austrians, the Germans, the Swedes. Everyone. No one was "us". Not even in our family. My parents had the Swedish-looking kids (that really didn´t look very typically Swedish at all) and the Austrian/Polish-looking kids. Two of each. It was like a national divide straight through our family.

Anyway, I loved those dresses. I wore them happily. And as an adult, I have often said to my husband that I wish I had one, that I should buy one the next time we go to Vienna. We don´t often do. My mother-in-law has often offered me to borrow her folklore-dress, from Norrbotten (Swedish Lapland, really), but it´s just not me. And it´s made of allergenic wool.

So, imagine my surprise yesterday, when I passed the Red Cross charity shop. In the window, on a mannequine, was a dirndl-dress! I took a closer look, and it looked the right size, too. I immediately made one of the kind ladies strip the doll, and the dress fit perfectly! 100 SEK for the whole thing! God, that´s almost nothing! It´s made of cotton, can be washed in 60 degrees in the machine, and the sleeves are the perfect length for me.

I have decided to wear this dress on the Swedish National Day next year, to honor my mixed cultural heritage. This seems especially relevant now that the Swedish Democrats, an immigration-unfriendly party, has been voted into the Swedish Parliament. I shall wear it on Midsummer´s Day, too. And perhaps I shall hum something by African-Carribean-German pop group Boney M.


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