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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: mellandagar

Here's the next word in The Local's Christmas-themed word of the day series, running from December 1st to Christmas Eve.

the word mellandagar on a black background by a swedish flag
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

You know those odd few days between Christmas and New Year when time seems to lose all meaning and your diet consists mainly of Christmas leftovers and chocolate? In Swedish, there’s a word for them.

Mellandagar literally means ‘between-days’ and is used to talk about the time between December 26th, which is a red day or public holiday in Sweden, and January 1st, also a public holiday.

Those five days in between aren’t official red days, although many Swedish companies will give employees a full or at least half day off on December 31st and the generous ones – or those which shut down operations entirely during the holiday period – will give all five as vacation. In offices where this doesn’t happen, there might be a scramble over who gets to book this coveted time off as holiday. It’s definitely worth asking prospective employers their policy on mellandagar if you ever find yourself choosing between job offers in Sweden! 

This does mean that in many businesses, normal service doesn’t resume until the new year, so watch out for reduced opening times during the mellandagar if you have errands to run.

This is also a good time of year for bargain-hunting thanks to the mellandagsreor or ‘between-days sales’ that many shops and companies offer. Or if you’d prefer to get out of town, many hotel, spa and ski resorts offer special mellandagar packages so you can take a break during this period.

Example sentences:

Vi ska ha det mysigt i mellandagarna

We’re going to have a cosy, relaxing time between Christmas and New Year

Vi har begränsade öppettider under julen och mellandagarna

We have limited opening hours from Christmas until New Year

Need a good Christmas gift idea?

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 – or join The Local as a member and get your copy for free.

It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: i förrgår

Swedish is very effective when it comes to talking about time. Today's word of the day will help you to be specific about past events.

Swedish word of the day: i förrgår

Förrgår is one of a number of Swedish words that can relate to a point in time — in either the past or present — by using the (literally, “in”) preposition, giving some precise terms that aren’t found in English.

It means “the day before yesterday”, and is made up of the word for “yesterday”, “i går”, and the preposition “för” meaning “before”.

Over time, this phrase “för i går” meaning “before yesterday” most likely became “förrgår”.

It must be preceded by a preposition, i, to mean “the day before yesterday”, resulting in the phrase i förrgår.

You may also come across the phrase “i förrgårs” – this is a more archaic variant of i förrgår, most commonly used in southern Sweden. Danish and Norwegian have both kept the -s here, both using the phrase i forgårs to mean “the day before yesterday”.

You can use a similar construction with the preposition and the suffix -s to talk about past seasons, too – i våras, i somras, i höstas and i vintras mean “last spring”, “last summer”, “last autumn” and “last winter”, respectively.

Similar words for the day before yesterday also exist in German – vorgestern (literally, “before yesterday”), and Dutch eergisteren (similar to the archaic German term ehegestern, also meaning “before yesterday”).

In fact, this term did once exist in English, too – the Old English word ærgistran, also meant “the day before yesterday”.

This term became ereyesterday, consisting of ere, an archaic word meaning “before” or “earlier”, and yester, meaning “last”, as in yesterday or yesteryear.

Ereyesterday has also become an archaic term in English, which you are most likely to come across in old literature or archaic translations of the Bible.

You can also use the phrase i övermorgon in Swedish to talk about time – it means “the day after tomorrow”, and consists of över (“above” “over” or “across”) and “morgon” (“morning” or “tomorrow”, literally the Swedish version of the archaic English word “morrow”).

Like with förrgår, this term also used to exist in English – “overmorrow”, although it has also fallen out of fashion and been replaced with the phrase “on the day after tomorrow”.

Again, it must be preceded by a preposition, i.

The roots of övermorgon are from German, übermorgen, meaning “later than tomorrow” but also used for “the day after tomorrow”.

Example sentences

Visst skulle vi ses med Linda och Peter i förrgårs? Nej, vi ska ut med dom i övermorgon.

We were suppsed to see Linda and Peter the day before yesterday, weren’t we? No, we’re going out with them the day after tomorrow.

När lagade du den lasagnen? Jag lagade den i förrgårs, så den är nog fortfarande okej att äta.

When did you make that lasagne? I made it the day before yesterday, so it should still be fine to eat.

By Emma Firth and Becky Waterton

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 USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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