How to chat to Swedes when the sun comes out

Here are the essential words and topics to whip out and impress your Swedish friends and family in the season of new beginnings.

How to chat to Swedes when the sun comes out
Swedes on a forest walk making the most of the spring weather. Photo: Maskot/Folio/

This article was written in 2016 and updated in 2022.

1. Time, please, ladies and gentlemen 

Despite snow in parts of the country, in a couple of weeks there will be two sure signs of spring – the vernal equinox (vårdagjämning) on March 20th, and the arrival of summer time (sommartid) on March 27th, 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.

A perfect time of year to see the sites – pictured is Drottningholm in Stockholm. Photo: Tove Freiij/

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, a sure sign of spring. Photo: Terje Bendiksby/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 in Stockholm.
Photo: Claudio Bresciani/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). 

Outdoor seating at a restaurant in Malmö. Photo: Tina Axelsson/

READ ALSO: Seven silly signs winter is over in Sweden


Eight tasty Swedish recipes to try this summer

Swedes tend to eat with the seasons, so in summer that means light dishes with fish or berries as the usual star ingredients. Here are eight classic Swedish recipes for warmer days, from appetizers to after dinner drinks.

Eight tasty Swedish recipes to try this summer
Add a Swedish flavour to your summer cooking. Photo: Anna Hållams/

Swedish West Coast Salad

In true Swedish fish-loving fashion this recipe consists of muscles, shrimp and a crayfish of your choosing. A typical appetizer found on the west coast of Sweden, this simple dish is easy to make and delicious.

Click here for the full recipe.

Nothing says Swedish cooking like three different types of fish. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Goat Cheese Salad with Cranberries 

The creamy goat cheese and sweetness of the berries make a great combination for this salad which works as an appetizer for a dinner party or barbecue

Click here for the full recipe.

Goat cheese is an ease find in Sweden. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Blackberry and Elderflower Cocktail 

A refreshing cocktail, mixing two favourite summer ingredients. No need to be a master mixologist, the recipe is simple to follow and works on both the alcoholic and alcohol-free version. 

Click here for the full recipe.

The perfect cocktail for a summer's evening. Photo: Matthew Mead/TT

Strawberry Cordial 

This refreshing is great to make during anytime of the year, but really compliments a summertime meal, especially if you can get Swedish strawberries.

Click here for the full recipe.

A platter of refreshing strawberry cordials. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Crayfish Pasta 

This creamy and light dish is the perfect amount of crayfish so that even people who think they don't like the classic summer delicacy should be pleased. It's great for any kind of setting, whether it be an intimate dinner for two or an outdoor party.

Click here for the full recipe.


Photo: Carolina Romare/

Baked Brill

Summer time in Sweden means fish, fish and more fish and this light baked brill makes a nice main course for any occasion, served with steamed asparagus on the side and fresh potatoes.

Click here for the full recipe.

You can always expect a boat-load of fish during Swedish summers. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Rhubarb Crumble

A new twist on an old classic, this rhubarb crumble is paired with the unusual flavours of orange and ginger. Add in some nuts to add a little crunch to the mix.

Click here for the full recipe.

Perfect for any sweet tooth. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Strawberry and Elderflower Parfait

This dessert is perfect for lazy afternoons or an after dinner treat, combining two popular ingredients: fresh strawberries and elderflower.

Click here for the full recipe.

Perfect for lazy afternoons in the summer heat or an after dinner treat. Photo: Jurek Holzer/TT