Swedish word of the day: vårstädning

Swedish word of the day: vårstädning
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Vårstädning has a simple English translation, but also refers to a very Swedish concept.

Vårstädning (vår + städning) means ‘spring clean’ and refers to a big tidy-up at the start of the warmer season. You can do this on your own at home, but in Sweden many housing associations and apartment blocks also organise a vårstädning day as a group activity.

Usually the association will invite residents to take part in the day, which might involve weeding, planting flowers, and bringing out any outdoor furniture. It’s a chance to get to know the neighbours and (in non-pandemic times) coffee and snacks like biscuits or hotdogs are often provided for helpers.

There’s also an autumn counterpart, höststädning, when the outdoor furniture gets taken in and the garden cleared up ready for winter.

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Sweden is generally considered a tough place to make friends, and even to get to know neighbours — it’s not that common, for example, to knock on neighbours’ doors to introduce yourself as a new arrival, especially in big cities where apartment blocks have a relatively higher turnover of residents.

But participating in these organised chores, as well as getting involved with the association’s board itself, is a way to show you’re a good neighbour, willing to do your part.

You can also use vårstäda as a verb, for example vårstäda trädgården (to give the garden a spring clean).

And like in English, the term can be used figuratively. In 2021 ministers have spoken about a vårstädning of Sweden’s population register, involving removing outdated coordination numbers from the register, and you might also use it to talk about another kind of re-organisation. 


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