Something Swedish


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Swedish Seasons

Now that I’ve been in Sweden for almost 10 months (wow!) I’m getting to experience all the seasons in Sweden, and it has been a roller coaster! A very cloudy and rainy ride recently.

Southern Sweden is a comfortable mix of warm, but not too hot, summers, and cold, but not unbearably freezing, winters. Notice I only mentioned two seasons? Spring and Fall/Autumn come and go so quickly you can barely feel it in the air.

In SFI we learn the seasons (årstider):

Summer (sommar): June-Mid August [2.5]
Fall (höst):  Mid August-October [2.5 months]
Winter (vinter): November-March [5 months]
Spring (vår): April-May [2 months]

But in fact this is only an estimate.

In Sweden there is no small talk about it officially being the first day of Fall. Not because the season is so brief, but because seasons are not noted on the Swedish calendar. You “feel” when a season arrives, you don’t “know” ahead of time. Just by looking at an American calendar I can tell you the dates of the seasons in 2012 are: March 20th, June 20th, Sept 22, and Dec 21st.

In Sweden (and Finland) the seasons are determined according to a consistent 7-day temperature reading. Its Fall/Autumn because its been below +10°C (50°F) for long enough to consider the season change. When will it be Winter in Sweden? When it’s cold enough 7 days in a row (Below 0°C/32°F). This means that the seasons change at a different times all throughout Sweden since there is such a huge climate difference in the North and South.

Rain, Rain, go away…

Before moving here I didn’t really think about Sweden having a lot of rain, just the stereotypical land of snow. For the past two weeks it has rained at least a little (usually a lot) everyday, with an overcast hiding any proof of  sky or sun. I started wearing my light winter jacket and scarf this week, mostly because of the wind, but it reminded me that winter is coming and the days are getting shorter. Not that I wouldn’t mind the extra 15 degrees(F)/8 degrees (C)  in NYC, but I think  I’ve adjusted to the Swedish weather. I don’t mind the rain and cold as much and have gotten used to always carrying a sweater and umbrella all year round. Aside from the wind and rain it doesn’t feel like the temperature has dropped too drastically, but that’s because we had a chillier than normal summer. In fact, I read a newspaper article about Swedes needing to take extra D-vitamins to make up for the lack of sun this summer and  that the sick season will come early.

The end of summer means the end of some of my favorite things:

The hustle and bustle of tourists ended over a month ago, now the streets feel empty without all the outdoor dining and the sound of clanking plates and glasses.

Eating waffles in the open air  museum

Buying gelato from the local ice cream truck.

“The tower is closed. Welcome back next summer.” Looking over the town from above the trees.

I’m determined to spend the next few weeks of good weather taking long walks before it becomes too cold and dark. After that I think I’ll be baking cookies. Something to look forward to!

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Swedish Weather: “Svenskt väder”

When I first moved to Sweden people thought I was crazy for arriving in the middle of winter. They are even more surprised to learn that over the past three years almost all my visits have been in the dead of winter, and I still wanted to move here! Sweden is known for its harsh weather- lots of snow, wind, freezing temperatures, and 17 hours of darkness during those winter months (November – March). The climate between Southern and Northern Sweden is severe. Where the January temperatures in our town usually bottom out around -4 C (25F), that is nothing compared to Middle/Northern Sweden where Winter temperatures hit -15 C (5F). Our 17 hours of darkness is nothing compared to the 20+ hours of night the further North you travel. Thankfully our Southern weather is not as drastic: less snow, more light, less frigid, but more wind. The winter months affects all Swedes though, and everyone looks forward to summer days filled with sunshine and warmth.

When Spring begins to peek out of hiding Sweden starts waking up from its many months of slumber. A few weeks ago Spring had sprung and even showed a glorious preview of summer. The streets were crowded, the parks were sprawling with sunbathers, the ice cream and gelato trucks were out, people were grilling and picnicking. It was a week of bliss. A week of exactly what makes Sweden tick. It’s an amazing feeling to finally feel the warm sun on your skin after months of dark and cold.

It  was. WAS. For the past two weeks temperatures have fallen and the sun went back into hiding. It has been raining almost everyday, cloudy, or windy. This type of unpredictable, ever changing weather is common in April, but I was hoping not so much in May! At least we now have 15 hours of daylight (Even if it is filled with clouds) and the temperatures are  usually above 10 degrees Celsius (in the 50’s F. The hottest it usually gets in Southern Sweden is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which I think is perfect!)  The sun makes a guest appearance a few times a day, but never long enough to be considered a “nice day.” There was one beautiful day in the past two weeks and it is supposed to start looking better on Friday (A little cloudy but no rain). It feels like One day forward, three days backwards these days. I’m beginning to understand why Swedes are so quick to jump in the sunlight as soon as it appears – it might not last very long!

EDIT: Mother nature most have read my post because that 80% rain forecast turned out to be a pretty nice day! Some clouds and wind, but mild. We even played tennis.