It feels like it has rained for ever in Stockholm. We awaken to rain, we walk in the rain, we come home in the rain, and we go to bed to the sound of the rain.
I guess the wetness is positive as it is replenishing the water magazines that have dried out, and soaking the forest beds to extinguish any lingering embers from the forest fires.
But it is so boring and a bit depressing. In English, we have lots of words for rain, with some fun ones such as drizzle, mizzle, sleet, spit and ‘ache and pain’.
So I became curious about how many Swedish words there are. Here are 20 that I found:
- Regn – rain
- Duggregn – a light rain, spit
- Dusk – drizzle
- Snöblandad regn – rain mixed with snow, sleet
- Hällregn – heavy rain, pouring down
- Ösregn – torrential rain
- Skyfall – sudden heavy rain, a cloud burst
- Skur – shower
- Störtregn – heavy rain, a downpour
- Skval – constant, uninterrupted rain
- Sommarregn – light, summer rain
- Regnby – rain shower
- Slagregn – heavy rain, a deluge
- Glopp – rain with large snow flakes in
- Arlaregn – refreshing morning rain
- Strilregn – steady rain
- Nederbörd – precipitation
- Dagsregn – precipitation
- Regndroppe – rain drop
- Rotblöta – a large amount of rain, usually in the summer
So the next time, look out of the window and see what word best describes the rain outside. It might at least give you a few seconds of distraction in this November drudge.
In Sweden there’s a series of classic songs that are strongly related to the summer. One of these songs, I have always hated. It’s by an aging pop star called Thomas Ledin. I fear his summer song may be coming true this year.
This year, we’ve had the rainiest May and June in human memory. We had a heat wave of 5 days at the beginning of July. And today? It’s 14 degrees and raining again. So much for summer. Maybe that was it last week, flashing by in the blink of an eye.
So what is Thomas Ledin’s song? In Swedish it goes ‘sommaren är kort, det mesta regnar bort’ which translates as ‘summer is short, most of it just rains away.’
Art meets life in an annoying, but this year truthful, summer melody.
At the moment, I’m hearing a lot of moaning about the weather. It is raining a lot and unusually cold for the time of year.
Or is it?
I remember the first year I moved to Sweden and I was returning to the UK on May 13th to visit family. At Arlanda Stockholm Airport our flight was delayed – because it was snowing!! Snowing on May 13th! When I arrived in London, it was over 20 degrees and people were walking around in shorts.
I also remember another year – on Midsummer’s Eve – in June that we sat outside and it was so cold our breaths were steaming. It was the same temperature on Midsummer’s Eve as it had been on New Year’s Eve.
And I remember another May morning a few years ago when I was late for a meeting beacuse I had to unexpectedly scrape the ice of my car.
So is it so unusual that it’s this cold at this time of the year? Unfortunately not. Up here in the Nordic region, this is what we can expect from our weather gods.
The only thing that can make it change is global warming – not selective memory, collective denial or wishful thinking.
In three words, it’s easy to describe Swedish umbrella etiquette.
There. Is. None.
If it’s not bad enough to get bashed into when walking down the street on a normal day, it’s worse when it’s raining. Armadas of umbrella-wielding Swedes emerge. And you walk along the street at your peril.
Just a word of advice. If your umbrella is eye height for other people, then please tilt your brolly as you walk past them. The likelihood that you will poke out somebody’s eye is seriously reduced with this simple action.
It’s sensible. It’s respectful. It’s safe.
And it’s etiquette.