Saturday, 18 December 2010
It's snowing again. Yes, it is. It's snowing. In fact, it's been snowing since November so the chances of us not having a white Christmas this year are very slim. At Christmas, it should be snowy I think. It's all part of the romanticism. But I can happily skip it the rest of the winter. Swedes will tell you that it's better than rain. I disagree. They often justify it by saying that snow brightens up the darkness. True but I'm still not a big fan.
It's no suprise that Sweden is a snowy country and this close relation to snow is reflected in the language. The eskimos have, apparently, 40 words for 'snow'. I'm not sure how many words in Swedish there are for snow, but there are many. There's just 'snow', then there's 'wet snow' (blötsnö), 'snow-blended rain'(snöblandad regn), 'powder snow' (pudersnö), 'slush' (slask), ´corn snow´ (kornsnö), snow hail'(snöhagel) and loads more.
And then there are fabulous words such as 'skare' which means snow crust and, my personal favourite, 'dagsmeja'. This is snow that is melting on a sunny day even though it's below freezing. Above freezing is thawing. 'Kramsnö' is the type of snow perfect for snowballs and 'isnålar' are small snow crystals that seem to float in the air.
I wonder how many words we have in English for rain?
Thursday, 16 December 2010
After so many years in Sweden, I thought I'd seen every type of Lucia celebration there is to see. But, no, this week I experienced something completely new.
Santa Lucia is the saint who wakes Swedes up early in the morning of Dec 13th with candles in her hair. A tranquil tradition, Lucia literally brings the light to the dark country of Sweden.
This December 13th, I was flying back from New York. I, like all the other passengers, was dozing off in my chair when the sun started to slowly peek above the horizon. Then, slowly in the distance I started to hear quiet singing - Santa Lucia's song. The singing got louder and I opened my eyes. And there she was, Lucia, walking the aisles with her maidens and disciples. All were carrying lights and lightening up the dimness of the cabin.
The cabin crew had dressed in the traditional white robes, and brought Lucia to the sleepy continental travellers, somewhere over the North Sea. Afterwards, they performed 'We wish you a Merry Christmas' and served the traditional ginger bisucuits and saffron buns.
Of all the Lucia celebrations I have seen, this has to be one of the most memorable.
Lucia is about lightening up the dark. This one was also about lightening our weary spirits.
Friday, 3 December 2010
Right now, I'm in an intense period of travelling for work. Backwards and forwards I walk from home to the airport train, out to Arlanda airport and off.
Picture this. Minus 20 temperatures. Snow tumbling down. Pathways covered in deep layers of snow, rutted and ribbed from pedestrians and pushchairs.
There I go. Head, neck, hands, legs, feet freezing because I'm only wearing a thinnish suit under my coat. Behind me, I pull a suitcase. A suitcase on wheels. I drag it, with much effort, through the piles of snow. It gets stuck in a snow-dune. With a wrench, I jerk the suitcase out and continue, head down into the wind and towards the station. I curse the fact that the pavement isn't ploughed, and that the snow just keeps falling, falling, falling.
Sweden is a country that has fostered many inventors. For having a relatively small population, a very large amount of inventions have come out of this country. The safety match, dynamite, the blowtorch, the AGA stove, the safety belt, the zip, the ballbearing, the pacemaker and dialysis machines. All Swedish inventions.
Now, you'd think in such a small country of big brains, someone would have invented a suitcase on skis wouldn't you? So many problems would be avoided.
I would definitely buy one.