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#AdventCalendar: Sweden’s many, many, many words for snow

Each day of December up until Christmas Eve, The Local is sharing the story behind a surprising Swedish fact as part of our own Advent calendar.

#AdventCalendar: Sweden's many, many, many words for snow
There's a lot of different word for snow in the Swedish and Sami languages. Photo: Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa via AP

In Sweden, snow is much more than a pretty wintery weather phenomenon.

In some parts of the country, it's present for several months of the year. It might represent a struggle or a hazard, while for children (and let's face it, some adults) it's an opportunity to play. Its brightness also helps bring a bit of light to the otherwise dark months of the year.

Because of this, the Swedish language has many words for snow, while the Sami language spoken by the native people of the northern regions has even more – over 200 by some counts. Some of this is due to the fact the Swedish language lends itself to compound words, however.

Here are a few to get you started.

There's nysnö (new snow), blötsnö (wet snow), snömos (fresh fluffy snow), pudersnö (powder snow), snökanon (lake-effect snow), knarrsnö (crispy snow) and kramsnö (literally 'squeeze snow', the right consistency for making snowballs).

Then you've got slask (slush or partly melted snow), skare (the crust on packed snow when one layer melts and then freezes over again) and dagsmeja (snow melting in the sunshine).


And the Sami language can add even more: muohta (snow in general), habllek (powder snow), soavli (slushy snow), vahca (new snow), and ciegar (a snowfield which has been trampled by reindeer), to name a few.

Each day until Christmas Eve, The Local is looking at the story behind one surprising fact about Sweden, as agreed by our readers. Find the rest of our Advent Calendar HERE and sign up below to get an email notification when there's a new article.



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