20 Swedish words for rain

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:

  1. Regn – rain
  2. Duggregn – a light rain, spit
  3. Dusk – drizzle
  4. Snöblandad regn – rain mixed with snow, sleet
  5. Hällregn – heavy rain, pouring down
  6. Ösregn – torrential rain
  7. Skyfall – sudden heavy rain, a cloud burst
  8. Skur – shower
  9. Störtregn – heavy rain, a downpour
  10. Skval – constant, uninterrupted rain
  11. Sommarregn – light, summer rain
  12. Regnby – rain shower
  13. Slagregn – heavy rain, a deluge
  14. Glopp – rain with large snow flakes in
  15. Arlaregn – refreshing morning rain
  16. Strilregn – steady rain
  17. Nederbörd – precipitation
  18. Dagsregn – precipitation
  19. Regndroppe – rain drop
  20. 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.

November in Sweden

Probably the least fun month of the year, what do you associate with month of November? I think of:

  • Darkness
  • Cold
  • Wind
  • Netflix
  • Intense work schedule
  • Darkness
  • Take away food
  • Red wine
  • Darkness
  • Tiredness
  • Rain
  • Candles
  • Jumper
  • Bad skin
  • Thick jackets
  • Warm shoes
  • Anticipation (for the festive season)

Oh….did I mention darkness?

What do you associate with November?

Swedish Saints, Souls and shimmering cemeteries

Swiping through social media channels, it’s clear to see that dressing up as witches, vampires and other ghoulish things has become increasing popular in Sweden. Halloween parties are scheduled, not just on the 31st October, but at any time over the few weeks at the end of October and beginning of November.

I’m casting no shade over the masquerade, but personally I am much more enchanted by the traditional Swedish way of celebrating this time of year – it is so serene and reflective.

In Sweden, the first Saturday in November is All Saints’ Day – not necessarily November 1st as in most other countries. In 1983, the Sunday after All Saints’ Day was given the official name All Souls’ Day to separate between the saints and the dead.

Since the 1800’s Swedes have, during this weekend, made pilgrimage to graveyards up and down the country to decorate the graves with candle light.

It is a beautiful experience to walk through the churchyards this weekend. In pitch black November, it is a shimmering reminder of those who have gone before us. Individual graves blink in the Nordic darkness, and memory groves blaze with the collective light of hundreds of flames.

If you are in Sweden today, go to a cemetery. If you happen to be in Stockholm, head for the Forest graveyard (Skogskyrkogården) for a specifically spectacular experience. 

Swedish ‘Ski shooting’ – the king of the hybrids

In the Swedish town of Östersund, the World Championships in biathlon is currently taking place. For the uninitiated of you, the biathlon is a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. In Swedish, it is called ‘skidskytte’ – literally ‘ski shooting’. The sport is a race where the contestant with the shortest total time wins. Depending on the competition, missed shots result in extra distance or time being added to the contestant’s total.

The biathlon is an example of a hybrid sport – one which combines two or more sports in order to create a new sport. Waterpolo, which combines swimming and handball, is another example. Biathlon is the king of the hybrids as it is the only one to be recognised as an Olympic sport.

As usual, I got curious about what other hybrid sports exist. So I did some research. Here are some of the, according to me, funniest ones:

Bossaball – combines the many elements of volleyball, football, gymnastics and the Brazilian martial art Capoeira. Strangely, it is played on an inflatable field with 2 trampolines at each side of the net. These allow players per side to bounce high to spike or touch the ball.

Chess boxing – weirdly combines the sport of boxing with games of chess in alternating rounds. Chess boxing fights have been organized since early 2003.

Darchery – combines darts and archery, using crossbows and arrows typically used for archery, but the target is a dart board.

Footgolf – combines football with golf. Players kick a football into large holes placed around a golf course.

Headis – combines table tennis and football. Players use their heads to hit a football across the table tennis table and net. Sounds exhausting.

Kronum – combines handball, football, basketball and rugby played on a circular field with four goals at each end.

Octopush – combines swimming, diving and hockey. Players try to push around a hockey puck at the bottom of a swimming pool. The goal is to shoot the puck with a small, curved piece of wood into the opposing team’s goal.     

Do you play any of these sports? Or do you play another hybrid sport? Let me know!

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6 reasons why Swedes take Eurovision so seriously

We are in the middle of the Eurovision qualification rounds (known colloquially as ‘Mello’) in Sweden – three weeks in, three weeks to go. This extended selection period occupies every Saturday night for 6 weeks, and results in the song and artist who will represent the country in the big final in Israel.

People gather up and down the country to have ‘Mello’ parties. Social media and traditional media are full of comments about the bad quality of the contestants this year (and every year). People are raging that the wrong songs are voted to move on in the league table.

Nobody, and I mean nobody takes their Eurovision (ESC) more seriously than the Swedes.

But why is that? Here are a few theories:

Brightening up the winter blues. Mello comes during the deepest, darkest, dreariest time of the year. The glittery colourfulness of Mello brightens up February and early March, when nothing much else happens.

Reliving the glory days. ABBA’s legacy is a constant reminder to Swedes that they once reached long-lasting global fame and it all started at ESC. Every year is a hunt for the next big thing, when the international light will shine once more on this little country in the north.

Organized ‘religion‘. Sweden is, relatively speaking, not a religious country. So the human need for organising ourselves into a collective manifests itself in other ways. Hockey and football become a form of organized religion. And ‘Mello’ is another variation on the same theme. Ask Swedes why they like Mello and many use the word ‘folk fest’ – a ‘national party for the people.’

Swedish traditions. Sweden is a country that is good at holding on to traditions – crayfish parties, snaps songs, semla cream buns, Easter trees – to name just a few. Therefore it is easy for this society to absorb, and structure, new traditions. Halloween is now a thing here. So is Valentine’s Day. So Mello becomes another tradition and slots nicely into the national calendar.

Vicarious extrovertism. Swedes are not generally known for being outgoing and extroverted, although there are of course exceptions. This means that Mello becomes so attractive, as it’s an opportunity for Swedes to live vicariously through the ‘crazy’ performers who dance around in sequins and funny outfits. It’s also an opportunity to push your own boundaries and wear a glittery hat or a pink feather boa. And all under organised, acceptable conditions.

Love of music. Because some Swedes actually like the music.

Which theory is most accurate do you think? Do you have another theory?

Ice, ice baby: 15 Swedish words for ice

Currently in the depths of winter, the Swedish landscape is covered in snow and ice.

I previously published a blog about 50 Swedish words for snow. So I became curious about how many words are there to describe ice.

I was surprised to find an enormous number of words. I guess it’s not so surprising for a Nordic country with so many lakes, rivers and waterways that there are many words to describe the different stages and shapes of frozen water.

Here are 15 of the words I found: 15 words for ice.

  1. Is – the standard word for ice
  2. Blankis – ice that shines like a mirror
  3. Nyis – ice that’s only a couple of centimeters thick and transparent
  4. Fast is – thick ice, often not transparent
  5. Issörja – when the air is cold but the water is moving, a kind of ice slop forms
  6. Tallrikis – plates of ice that form when above mentioned ice slop clusters together
  7. Pannkaksis- similar to tallriksis but formed when water with different amount of salt content meet each other
  8. Svallis – the kind of yellowish ice that freezes on mountainsides or rocky walls
  9. Drivis – large pieces of ice that float on the water and are driven by wind
  10. Isflak – a large, loose sheet of ice floating on water
  11. Rutten is – literally ‘rotten ice’, the first stage of thawing ice
  12. Skruvis – when thin ice layers itself on top of each other, like filo pastry.
  13. Istapp – icicle
  14. Svartis – black ice on the ground
  15. Glattis – an evenly compact layer of ice on the ground

What other words for ice do you know?

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Sweden’s longest night

winter solstice

Today, Friday Dec 21st is the longest night for people in Sweden and the rest of the northern hemisphere. At this time of year, it doesn’t get much darker than this. In Swedish, there’s an expression – now we’re moving towards brighter times – and it’s really relevant today, as from tomorrow the amount of daylight will gradually extend until June.

The winter solstice is the official start of astronomical winter, and this year it will be extra special. The winter solstice marks the exact moment each year when the Northern Hemisphere reaches its greatest possible tilt away from the sun, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It signals the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere.

But this year, the solstice isn’t the only celestial show in the coming days. A full moon known as the Cold Moon will take place on Saturday. The moon will appear full for a few days. However, it is the first time it coincides with the winter solstice since 2010. It won’t occur again until 2094, by which time most of us will be dead. In addition to the full moon, a meteor shower will take place on Friday and Saturday nights, according to NASA.

So it might be dark and dreary outside, but look up to the sky. You might just witness something spectacular – and I don’t mean Santa and his sleigh.