Six keys to understanding autumn in Sweden

Lee Roden
Lee Roden - [email protected]
Six keys to understanding autumn in Sweden
The season's about to change. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

As the cloudier days in Stockholm are beginning to make painfully clear, the summer is drawing to a close. With that in mind, now is a good time to roll out some common Swedish autumn topics and phrases to help you navigate your way through the darker days.


1. Winter is coming

It feels cruel to start an article on autumn with the subject of winter, but there's no escaping the fact that they days are getting shorter this time of the year. The official arrival of vintertid (winter time) comes on October 30th this year, meaning the clocks move back an hour – and by extension, you get to lie an hour longer in bed that day without feeling guilty.

In 2016 one Swedish MP made a case for scrapping that practice entirely and keeping daylight saving time in place permanently, but perhaps unsurprisingly, Robert Hannah’s revolution failed to take hold. So winter (time) is coming, whether you like it or not. Be prepared.


2. Clothes, weather, and the most annoying Swedish phrase ever

The changing of the seasons means more rain, and in turn that means an increased chance of encountering perhaps the most irritating Swedish phrase of all time. Ever had the audacity to suggest it's not much fun spending time outdoors in the pouring rain? You may well have been met by the response "det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder", meaning "there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing".

Apart from being fundamentally false (tell someone caught in a hurricane that all they need is a better jacket, then get back to me), it's the glee with which this one is wheeled out that's particularly annoying. But you may as well know what it means, as it's guaranteed to happen.

Don't worry, you only need the right jumper... Photo: Chirag A. Patel

3. Cosiness, cosiness everywhere

Bad weather isn’t all bad, admittedly. The cold autumn air also means höstmys – roughly translated, autumn cosiness, which most visibly manifests itself in the reappearance of candles, cups of hot chocolate (or tea, or coffee depending on your preference), a greater inclination towards baked goods, the return of your favourite warm jumper, and if you're feeling particularly creative, a chance to use some of the brightly coloured leaves that are now in abundance to decorate your home.

Look out for interior sites and magazines sharing their höstmystips – a dead cert at this time of the year.

Cosy. Autumn cosy. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT


4. Much ado about mushrooms

Autumn means it's prime svampplockning (mushroom picking) season in Sweden, the biggest thing since blåbärsplockning (blueberry picking) season, or whatever other season it happened to be before that.

The point is, Swedes like to make use of their natural resources, and at this time of the year a favourite weekend hobby is to find your nearest forest and go mushroom hunting. Beware of poisonous mushrooms, but do keep an eye out for key types like trattkantareller (yellowfoot) and smörsopp (sticky bun), while there may also be a few stensoppar (penny buns) left over from the summer. Oh, and accept that your Swedish friends are probably bigger experts than you (they have mushroom smarts in this part of the world, don't you know) and learn from them!

Swedes have mushroom smarts. Photo: Yvonne Åsell/SvD/TT


5. The apple of Sweden's eye

Mushrooms aren’t the only food that thrives in the cold conditions: September means the apples are ripe for harvest in the south of Sweden, and that means it's time for äppelmust (cloudy apple juice) äppelpaj (apple pie) and äppelmos (apple sauce). Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to try some äppelcider (apple cider), for good measure.

You likely won't miss the fact that this fruit is in abundance in the autumn: Swedish supermarkets tend to give them pride of place while they're in season.

Apples are so abundant in Sweden they even make art with them. Photo: Jack Mikrut/TT

6. Britt and her late summer

To end on an optimistic point, if there are a few unusually warm days in the middle of autumn, the chances are you'll hear Swedes talking about a Brittsommar.

That’s the term used here for a period of late, unseasonably pleasant weather that us English speakers tend to refer to as an Indian summer. The Swedish name comes from the October 7th name day for Birgitta and Britta – fingers crossed we get to use it this year!

Fingers crossed we'll see a repeat of this, from October 2011. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT


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