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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Swedish word of the day: höstmys

Our chosen Swedish word of the day is perfect for anyone who's secretly glad that summer is coming to an end and looking forward to digging their knitwear out from the back of the wardrobe.

Swedish word of the day: höstmys
Today's word is for people who are secretly excited the days are getting shorter. Image: nito103/Depositphotos

Höstmys is a Swedish noun best translated as 'autumn cosiness', but what exactly it means depends on who you talk to.

En höst is the Swedish term for 'autumn', which English speakers may be interested to know shares its roots with the English noun 'harvest': both derive from the Old Norse word haust. Haust originally referred to gathering, but became used as the general term for the season in which farmers gathered their crops. In the UK, as populations moved away from rural living, haust was overtaken by 'autumn' from the Latin term autumnus in general speech, and from the 1500s onwards 'harvest' took on a narrower, specifically agricultural meaning. 

Scandinavian countries remained largely rural farming societies for much longer, and were influenced by Latin to a lesser degree, which is why they kept the same term for the season between summer and winter (Swedish höst is related to German der Herbst and Norwegian haust).

As for mys, it's related to the adjective mysig (cosy) and the verb att mysa (which means something along the lines of 'to have a cosy time', 'to cuddle', or 'to snuggle'). This is a big concept in Sweden, so you'll see 'mys' tacked on the end of lots of words: fredagsmys, lördagsmys, kvällsmys, julmys, and so on.

Höstmys is therefore about whatever makes the colder, darker nights more bearable for you, whether it's lighting candles, tucking up under blankets, or spending evenings on the sofa with a glass of mulled wine and the people you care about most.

As is the case with a lot of Scandinavian lifestyle concepts, the simple idea has been co-opted by brands and Instagram influencers who might try to convince you that true höstmys involves splurging on home furnishings or vacation rentals. You'll see countless headlines like 'Saker som du behöver för att maxa höstmyset' (Things you need for maximum autumn cosiness) but rest assured that there's truly no right or wrong way to mysa.

READ ALSO: Seven reasons to embrace autumn in Sweden

Examples:

Så inreder du för ultimata höstmyset

Here's how to decorate for the ultimate autumn cosiness (another typical headline)

Nu börjar löven falla av träden vilket betyder höstmys

Now the leaves are starting to fall from the trees, which means autumn cosiness

Do you have a favourite Swedish word you'd like to nominate for our word of the day series? Get in touch by email.

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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: tacofredag

Today’s word is a modern Swedish national tradition.

Swedish word of the day: tacofredag

Tacofredag simply means ‘Taco Friday’.

If you have been living in Sweden for a while you might be familiar with the concept of att mysa, ‘to get cozy’. If you are not, the number one mys-day is Friday, fredagsmys, or “Cozy Friday”, which we have previously covered. Fredagsmys has become somewhat of a modern national tradition, where the idea is to stay at home, watch a movie, have a chill and nice time together while eating fast food.

And the fast food of choice for fredagsmys is tacos, Tex-Mex style tacos, but with a Swedish twist. You might have seen the large taco section in your local supermarket and wondered. This is why it is so large.

Here’s the story behind it. Around 1990 Sweden was reemerging out of a financial crisis. Swedes were increasingly willing to spend again, and television advertising, which was illegal on cable based broadcast, was becoming a thing through satellite broadcasts from the UK. Somewhere around this time the idea of fredagsmys was born. To sit at home, eating easy to make food while watching television.  

Though crips company OLW was the major populariser of the phenomenon of fredagsmys through a series of popular adverts that started in 2009, the big winners of the new cultural phenomenon were the tex-mex producers Old El Paso and Santa Maria (which even changed its name from Nordfalks due to the success of its tex-mex products). 

Through in store demonstrations of how to assemble the tacos, and a series of advertising campaigns, tex-mex sales grew from 70 million to 1,2 billion SEK over 20 years from 1991-2011. In 2014 Santa Maria released a statement containing statistics from a survey which showed that 85 percent of Swedes eat Tex Mex regularly, and that 55 percent of them do it on Fridays. Though that survey was done on only 1000 people, it still gives an inkling of the popularity of the phenomenon.

So what are the essentially Swedish ingredients on tacofredag? Cucumber, pineapple, yoghurt sauces, canned corn and even peanuts. These are also things that you might find on Swedish pizzas such as the Africana or the Hawaii, or even the odd Kebab Pizza (another Swedish take on imported food). 

As you can see, tacofredag is a widely appreciated and, due to its twists, quintessentially Swedish modern tradition. Invite your friends over for tacofredag instead of Taco Tuesday, and don’t forget to include the Swedish ingredients. It will certainly be appreciated.

Example sentences:

Vi tänkte ha tacofredag till helgen, vill ni komma?

We’re having Taco Friday this weekend, you wanna come?

Åh, jag älskar tacofredag!

Oh, I love Taco Fridays!

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.

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