My husband was singing in a beautiful Advent concert that I attended this past weekend. Everything was very tasteful, old-fashioned, Christmassy, etc., until the beautiful chandeliers were lowered and the altar boys lit the candles with….. a blow torch attached to a stick.
Hey, this may be a reverent celebration, but this concert is only an hour long and we’ve got to get these candles lit quick! Get the blow torch!
Side note: This church was originally built in the 1600s but has burned down twice. Um… maybe less blow torches duct-taped to sticks in the main chapel? Just an idea.
For several years now, here in Sweden, I’ve been seeing stores advertise for “Black Friday.” It’s not the chaos of the U.S., but more regular type sales. As far as I know, nothing opens early.
The reason that I and other Americans find Swedish “Black Friday” sales ridiculous is that there is no point behind them. In the U.S., the entire country has the day off on Thursday, which leads many to also have Friday off as well.
In Sweden, we obviously don’t have Thanksgiving, so this is a normal Monday – Friday work week. They might put up lights in the city this weekend, since it’s so dark, and most things naturally kick off around the first of Advent, which makes sense.
On Thanksgiving Thursday in the U.S., almost every business is closed. There are basically no stores open either, so everyone is crowded in a house with no options but to visit with their family. When Friday comes, people are thrilled to have an excuse to leave the house.
No one here in Sweden has a day off to shop this Friday. Not to mention that Swedish “sales” aren’t all that great. Currently at the grocery store, you can get two bags of shredded cheese for 30 SEK. What’s the price for one bag? 14.50 SEK.
Can we adopt other cultural traditions from the U.S. instead? Barbecues and snow-cone stands maybe? Real nachos with actual melted cheese?
This past weekend, I took a shortcut past a brand new tram stop that had not yet opened. A very confused looking woman asked me in Swedish when the next tram was coming. I explained to her, also in Swedish, that the stop would not open until the next day, as it was a new stop for the new line.
From her confused look, I deduced that I had once again messed up my Swedish grammar in some way. However, I’m fairly certain I got all the key words correct. “New station” “Opens tomorrow” I’m not THAT terrible at Swedish.
It seems the problem may have been that this woman was not familiar with Stockholm and it’s transportation system. She kept insisting that she arrived at this stop a few hours ago and was trying to go back. Figuring she most likely was not a time traveler from the future, I tried to tell her that there was a different train (not tram) stop about 400 meters up the road just behind a large building. Perhaps that was where she arrived?
But because of what I can only assume must have been bad grammar ( “Different train, you go other side of building, different station.”), she did not trust my local knowledge. In a move I’ve experienced a few times before, she stared at me for a beat, then proceeded to approach another person to ask the exact same question.
It’s so frustrating to take time to help people when they totally ignore everything you say, even if it is in a caveman-like accent. Just because I’m missing a few adjectives doesn’t mean I can’t answer your question!
I need to find out the Swedish equivalent of “But that’s what I said!” and “I told you so!” Otherwise, I might just practice a standard phrase in perfect Swedish and use that for any question from now on. Example: “You only need to wait here 5 minutes. Have a lovely day.”
This will be my response for all future questions, whether they are “How long until the next train?” or “Where can I find something to eat?”. People will trust my confident, perfectly-spoken answer and wait for something that will never come unless they dare to trust information from someone with an accent.
Cavemen have feelings too!
I know they say everything is bigger in Texas, but when it comes to ant beds, I think Sweden is in the lead.
These are what ant beds look like in Sweden. They are all over the forest. Mainly made with pine needles. If you go up close, you can hear all the ants moving around (as well as adjusting your eyes to realize that the entire pile is covered and moving with ants). It’s fascinating and replusive at the same time.
A little nature lesson today. This is what ant beds look like in Sweden. They are made from pine needles in the forest and are enormous!
“Someday, when the weather is better…” began my son the other day.
“Um, the weather is sunny and beautiful outside,” I replied before he finished his sentence.
A surprised look and then a smile came over his face. “Oh!”
Living in Sweden, “Someday when the weather is better…” is a stock phrase that I have to use about 9 months out of the year. “…you can ride your bike”, “…we can go swimming”, “…you can wear sandals”, etc.
I feel we use this phrase as much as people say, “Someday, when I win the lottery..” or “Someday, when we save enough money…”.
It takes a while to adjust to actually having nice weather after such a long winter. I sent the kids out on their bikes yesterday and they didn’t come back for over an hour. And they didn’t even need to wear a jacket! For many of us here in Sweden, this is way better than winning the lottery.
Today’s news story in The Local about police letting a suspect go ‘because it’s Friday’ has inspired me to go back and put a list of other news stories (yes, all true) illustrating just a few things that make Sweden pretty awesome:
If they can invent shoes where you can pop out wheels to roller skate, why can’t they invent winter boots where you can pop out blades to ice skate? It would be so much more useful in my neighborhood.
As my kids are going to school this morning, it is -18c here in Stockholm, Sweden. We haven’t seen temperatures this low for about 3 years when I was last convinced we lived on planet Hoth (I swear I saw a man riding a TaunTaun to work). The buses barely ran, there were subway problems and it was total chaos in the city. One would think places located in the Arctic Circle would be prepared for these things, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in Stockholm.
For the past week, the evening dinner conversation has revolved around the question of why people would ever settle in Sweden in the first place. I can only think that they discovered the place during the summer and then it became dark and cold so fast that they all experienced mass hibernation and never left.
This leads me to my ongoing argument that people living in northern countries should all hibernate during January and February. We practically do anyway since the darkness makes us all so tired. Why not take it up a notch? Most of us would get the same amount done as we do when we are awake in the winter.
No, this time it’s not drunken moose, but a sledding contest at the nearby ski hill happening on January 30 that many people would like to stop.
It’s called Fullka. Full = drunk. Pulka = sledding. See what they did there?
I wouldn’t dare sled down that particular ski hill sober, so I can understand people’s reactions to a drunk sledding contest. However, you gotta love the picture they use to advertise it.
Happy Halloween all! We had a Halloween dinner last night at a friends’ house and the kids got to go trick-or-treating. That’s right – LAST NIGHT, October 30. But this is Sweden where no one is quite sure if Halloween is only one day or which one it is, so they tend to celebrate for a week or two.
Now what made our Halloween last night so extremely Swedish (besides some people being confused and giving the kids money – better than last year when they got loose potato chips), was the first house we went to. There was a 3 year old boy jumping up and down on a bed in the window. Oh yeah, and he was completely naked. The boys had already rung the doorbell and we thought perhaps the parents would be embarassed, but wait… this is Sweden and you’re always going to run into nudity somewhere. The parents and kid came to the door to hand out candy and the kid stayed completely naked just dropping the candy into our kids bags. Our kids were in hysterics. I’ll give that kid best costume of the night – it was shocking for sure. 🙂
(Don’t worry, kid not shown in this picture.)
Here is the newest song from the government run kids channel. Hip Hip Hurrah for Periods! Complete with dancing tampons!
Special lyrics – drippity drip, droppity drop, Here it comes and You’re on Top!
Don’t worry, it has English subtitles so you can follow along!
(It sure beats Dora the Explorer)
I work two
part-time extra time jobs here in Stockholm, so sometimes I check to see if there might be a third extra time job I might be able to do. Checking job ads here gets very distracting though. Let me give you today’s examples along with my comments:
German-speaking debt collection agent (“Geld! Schnell!” I think I can get this one)
Professional Dog Walker (Professional? )
Chinese nail therapist (1. Why Chinese? 2. Do I just help nails to deal with their social issues?)
Thai Massage (No thanks)
Team member for food truck “The Good Gringo” The Good Gringo is on a mission to share with you what a burrito should be.
( I fully support this mission)
Answer: They go to Ikea of course!
(ok, not really a riddle… more of a question…. and pretty lame, I know.)
We made our bi-annual, required by Swedish law, trip to Ikea this past weekend on a rainy day. Of course, so did all other Stockholmers. I think we did well this time. With only 4 things on our list, we managed to escape the maze of stylish furniture and accessories with just 16 items. I think that’s a new record for us.
The rest of the afternoon was spent building furniture, of course. I tried to tell my son it was like building Legos, but he didn’t really fall for it. He did manage to hit a few nails and play with a box cutter in the toolbox while my back was turned before wandering to something way more interesting and computerized in his room, leaving me in a pile of screwdrivers and wooden pegs.
But everything has now been built and our apartment will have that lovely new furniture Ikea smell for a couple of days. I think it’s just a matter of time before someone bottles that smell. I’d buy it. I bought “new car smell,” so why not “new furniture smell.” I think I’m onto something here.