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How to chat to Swedes when the sun comes out

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How to chat to Swedes when the sun comes out
A couple lapping up the spring sun in Stockholm. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT
07:29 CEST+02:00
Here are the essential words and topics to whip out and impress your Swedish friends and family in the season of new beginnings.

This article was written in 2016 and updated in 2017.

1. Time, please, ladies and gentlemen 

Despite snow in parts of the country, this week we still have two sure signs of spring -- the vernal equinox (vårdagjämning) and the arrival of summer time (sommartid) when we screw the clocks forward an hour and rage against the machine for depriving us of a full night's sleep. So make a note of these words as they're cropping up everywhere.

So elated was one member of parliament at the arrival of spring last year that he never wants to go back and is lobbying to make summertime permanent. “You can not remove the winter, but you can make it brighter,” he said. Despite his efforts, the clocks will go forward this weekend.


Swedes loving the spring weather. Photo: Sofie Wiklund/TT

2. In bloom 

From the ground they emerge to make our world a brighter place. We’re talking tussilago (which surely is one of Sweden’s loveliest words), vitsippa and krokus. Translation: coltsfoot, wood anemone and crocus. 

Like everyones’ favourite denim jackets (jeansjackor), they were hidden away for the winter but now suddenly they’re everywhere. 

And look! Knoppar (buds) are on the trees too! 


Coltsfoot and cranes. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

3. Is it safe to come out yet? 

Bears know the score. While the human population gets all droopy for half the year in Sweden and enters a sort of semi-hibernation, our ursine friends take it all the way. They gå i ide (go into hibernation). But in spring they're back, emerging from their dens and getting chased up trees by dogs

Also, the flyttfåglar (migratory birds) are on their way back to these parts. Indeed, a sure sign of spring each year is the first sighting of a crane (trana) returning to Lake Hornborga in south-western Sweden. 

If you’re lucky you might even see a skäggdopping (great crested grebe) or an ormvråk (buzzard). 


Young brown bears frolic in the spring sun at Skansen,Stockholm, 2002. Photo: Jan Collssiöö/TT

4. How does it make you feel?

Bye bye melancholy, hej då melatonin and good riddance (or tears, depending on your viewpoint) Melodifestivalen. There’s vår i luften (spring in the air) and we’re happy as a kalv på grönbete (calf in green pastures). At least, that is, until we catch the first whiff of gråbopollen (mugwort pollen) and we’re basically one big human sneeze until the hay fever (hösnuva) abates. 

But while we may be runnier of nose, we are also prettier of face as the first fräknar (freckles) appear. 


Inger Nilsson plays Pippi Longstocking, the girl with Sweden's most famous freckled face, 1969. Photo: Jan Collssiöö/TT

5. The sun's out, we're all out

As soon as you can no longer see your own breath it’s time for the first grillfest (barbecue) of the year. Throw another korv (sausage) on the engångsgrill (disposable barbecue) mate, it’s going to be a scorcher.  

And once the temperature nears the 10C mark everyone starts to brave the outdoor sections of cafes and restaurants (uteserveringar). From April 1st they proliferate and stay there until the end of October, by which time the bears have already decided they’re about ready for their ide again. Sov gott, björn/Björn (Sleep tight, bear/guy called Björn). 


A June night at Södra Teatern in Stockholm. Almost there, folks! Photo: Jan Löwstedt/SvD/TT

READ ALSO: Seven silly signs winter is over in Sweden

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