Springtime in Sweden

by mo on 04/26/2011

Never have I been so happy (or surprised!) for spring.

Sweden in the spring is magical. (Allegedly, summer is even better, but I won’t be able to report on that.)

In the last two to three weeks, the sun has come out, the trees have blossomed, the weather has warmed up to a balmy 20 degrees…and most importantly, everyone has gone into permanent spring picnic mode.

Every piece of grass or bench or seat outside in Stortorget is covered with PEOPLE. If it’s the weekend, they’re sitting in the park, drinking (see: Valborg, this Saturday), otherwise they’re just sitting outside. On big rocks, overlooking Stockholm, until 9 PM when it finally starts to think about getting dark.

It has become our full-time job to enjoy the weather.

Actually, I totally forgot spring was coming.

It’s not that the winter in Skåne was even that bad. Since January, it was consistently 0 degrees and grey — not that cold, by my standards. I never even used my heaviest jacket once. But when I arrived, everything was covered in grey ice, the sky was grey, the sun set at 4 PM, and it never even got totally light out.

I got so used to the consistently dreary weather (2.5 months straight of exactly the same weather?) that spring seemed like something that only happens in other countries, like SUVs, carpeting, and hip-hop.

But then it happened, almost overnight. All term, I’ve had Swedish class from 5-7:30 PM — it used to be dark long before I even walked to class. Suddenly, now it’s light for hours after I come home.

The whole country is in SUCH A GOOD MOOD.

And oh man, the grilling. It’s been going on for WEEKS. Grilling is big here. Like, constant 4th of July-mode level big.

(Actually, I think we jumped the gun on the grilling a little bit — it was an odd experience to stand around in the light at 8 PM, grilling a pineapple, in my winter coat.)

(Yes, you can grill pineapples.)

It’s no accident that Easter break is happening now, followed a week later by Valborg. After 9 months of winter, we have earned the right to enjoy the weather.

As my friend Polly says, “I now understand why ancient cultures worshipped the sun.”

The sun is here and it’s time to celebrate.

I think spring celebration is something I was missing out on in the US. I mean, we occasionally would sit on the quad, and I remember quite a few pleasant warm evenings eating pizza on apartment balconies, feet up. But Japan has hanami, Sweden has Valborg… I am missing the American equivalent here.

Then again, maybe it’s because Illinois has exactly 1.5 days of good weather before we go into hot&humid or tornado mode, or maybe it’s because spending more than an hour outside means my allergies will cause my immune system to self-destruct.

Point is, byebye seasonal affective disorder, hello a month straight of chilling outside. The music festival Popadelica wrote in a recent Facebook status, “Förresten, sa vi att vi bokat solen till Popadelica 2011 också? Det har vi.” (“Btw, did we mention we’ve booked the sun for Popadelica 2011? Well we did.”) NICE.

Only bummed that I’m leaving too soon for midsommar and the midnight sun…

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