Straw mobiles

Back in december 2005 I took this picture of a beautifully laid christmas table at Skansen in
Stockholm, in the museum village. It was the first time I noticed this kind of straw decoration -
a sort of cubic straw construction forming a lovely, fragile mobile, moving and twirling by the slightest
draft from the door, or in the heat from the candles. As you can see, it was trimmed with small, red
woolen tassles - and I found it just lovely.

Later on I did some research, and found that these decorations are found in variations in most of
Scandinavia, though I personally have never seen them in Denmark. Straw was always
a symbol of a lot of different magical and religious aspects - many to do with harvest, fertility, and 
wealth of course, but straw is also said to represent the struggle against dark forces. 
In various parts of Scandinavia, some bundles of the very first or the very last (both seem to be 
particularly auspicious) corn to be harvested, were kept in the house, and sometimes twisted to form 
a kind of doll, that would keep the household safe from the devil.

We also know of straw animals, wreaths, and such - and they seem to have become especially connected
to christmas, even though they were originally to do with winter, darkness and the winter solstice.

These fantastic mobiles are made of long straw stems, soaked in water for strenght and carefully
dried - and strung on thin thread in all these wonderful prismatic diamond shapes. They are sometimes 
done up with paper roses, metal tinsel, dried berries, strips of fabric or, as above, wool tassels.

In Finland, they are called Himmeli - derived from the word 'himmel' that means 'heaven' in both 
German and the Scandinavian languages. My research leads me to the conclusion that they tend to
be more undadorned in Finland, more basic - and that I find especially charming, I think. 
In Finland, they also seem to be a christmas thing only (nowadays), whereas I find that they are made
for many occations in Sweden (and please tell me if I am wrong, as I am only an amateur
historian, and I would always love to know more about such things!).

Let me show you some stunning Himmeli:

Top: By Flickr user 'sjwhidden'
Middle: modern Himmeli from www.mums.fi
Last: source unknown, but I believe this one is from Norway.

In Sweden I have seen many variations of these Halmkronor or Oro, as the Swedes call them.
They are made for weddings, baptisms, easter, and - of course - christmas.
Some look a lot like the Himmeli, but others are very romatic and baroque - and also fantastic!

This particular man, Per-Åke Backman, from Leksand in northern Sweden, is a bit of a straw 
crafting legend. His website is here - and below a series of mobiles, all made by him. 

All five above: mobiles by Per-Åke Backmann (photo: Lennart Edvardsson)


  1. its beautiful, thanks tina to share with us. i am impressed to view, keep it up...

  2. Thank you, Wafa Ahmad - I am definitely gonna try to do some work in straw myself, when summer comes to Denmark. Did you see the one I made in plastic straws?