What about it? – read on here!
So we´re here; right in the middle of it. I´m talking about the cold and dark time of the year. Tiredness, low mood and not being as social as you usually are – not uncommon at all. Not surprising at all. Personally I feel as if the days were shorter which of course gives less room for being social; it is not likely that I would say “hey, let´s meet up in the park after work “. The day is already over.
Luckily we have the tradition of fika in Sweden. Always works. Ask someone over for coffee and a chat. The smell of freshly baked (works with the cinnamon rolls from the gas station too) goodies is sure to lift your mood. Yes, I think cocooning is trending winter time.
Lack of daylight might contribute to a chemical imbalance in the brain, affecting us negatively; some more than others. There is even such a thing as winter depression – SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Apparently it is not even heard of around the equatorial line. Go figure.
What can we do about it? GET DAYLIGHT. Preferably real, but there are also artificial lights. There are day light lamps, wake up lamps and even facilities with beaches, sun chairs and bright light. I have to try that. Wonder if you can get a colorful cocktail with a straw too?
In Umeå, 600 km north of Stockholm, the energy company decided to treat bus commuters to some benevolent bright light. Bus stops were lit up by ultra-violet light therapy for a few weeks last fall. Bus drivers complained; they were blinded by the light … But all in all I´m sure it was a success, not at least PR wise.
Try to get some daylight every day, even if it´s overcast. If you can squeeze in at least the shortest of walks you will most probably benefit from it. If you can´t – open the curtains, position yourself by a window. I did exactly this writing this text. May I suggest you drink some water too, avoiding headache. Just saying.
Turn the lights on; candle lights are nice for the soul and mind too, but won´t fill your need for light. Alternate!
It´s cold. Yes. Dress accordingly, go out and enjoy the weather and landscape on a nice day. Try ice skating, skiing or tobogganing. Or just fika in the snow; watching the others. Nothing beats hot cocoa and an energy bar. Don´t forget the lambskin to sit on. Or fake fur.
Go for light colors. You might not want to redecorate your home (admit it´s a good reason though ;)), but accessorize with pillows, blankets as well as curtains in pale, pastel shades, or whites.
Buy flowers, tulips are great and affordable – buy every week! Spring flowers like crocuses and snow drops look pretty on the windowsill and make me happy too. At least when I remember to water them.
Perhaps you could even consider dressing differently? Skip the black for a week; dare to try something new – lemon, pistachio, baby pink? These are not my colors at all, so I´ll go with beige. Again, accessories might do (half) the trick. People must have been happier in the 80´s right?
Needless to say, if you suffer deep from winter blues and are depressed you should contact your doctor/vårdcentral.
Tulips are my favorite flowers. The first sign of spring during our long dark winters; the first pastel colors after the intense reds and greens of Christmas. I love them! But I´m not alone – tulips are popular in Sweden. Swedes buy most tulips per person in the world, adding up to one million per day. US is still the largest market but the buying pattern of the Swedes- often a bunch per week – is far from matched. So even buying flowers can be culturally different, as well as the value of the flower. We happily buy them for ourselves when we do our weekly grocery shopping, whereas in other countries they might be considered more exclusive. Today– Jan 15 – is the Day of the Tulip in Sweden – “Tulpanens dag”. And yes, I bought some today! In spite of my admiration for tulips I haven’t grown many of them in my garden over the years. You see, it is not only Swedish people that can’t resist them; they seem to be favorite food for part of our wildlife. Last fall though I planted quite a few which I will guard vigorously when the time comes. Actually, due to the mild winter, one or two are peaking up already. As an expat I was lucky to enjoy smaller, botanical tulips in one of my rented gardens.
Read more about tulips here, Tulpanguiden in Swedish, or just enjoy the pictures!
Small Swedish lesson:
en tulpan – a tulip
tulpaner – tulips
en blomma – a flower
blommor – flowers
en bukett – a bouquet
att slå ut – to bloom/to enter the flowering state
en utslagen tulpan – a blooming tulip
att sloka – to wilt, to flag
vissna – to wither, to shrivel
vissen – shrivelled
en rabatt – a flower bed
en dag – a day
Tulpanens dag – the Day of the Tulip
Say the word Fredagsmys and every Swede knows what you are talking about. An easy Friday evening get-together, to mark the end of the work/school week and the beginning of the weekend. Family or friends, easy cooking, snack and a TV-screen are ususally involved. Tacos is a classic, as well as chips/crisps and dip; at least that´s what the commercials want us to believe. Fredagsmys is part of our modern culture, probably substituting the Sunday dinner family gathering.
The reality TV-show “Allt för Sverige”, brings “Swedish” Americans to Sweden for a chance to discover their roots. One of the episodes exposed the group to Fredagsmys. http://bit.ly/YizCDAI
One of the best things with living in different countries, and being exposed to various cultures, is that you get a bunch of new traditions to take on. You can choose freely – adopt the ones that appeal to you and fit your regular schedule of celebrations. It can be big; it can be small. As an expat; try to celebrate with locals if you can. If you moved already, keep the traditions – sometimes they prove to grow even stronger!
In my case there seems to be a strong connection between traditions and food. Anyone else? This year, with a bunch of friends from different parts of the world, we decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo; because of the Mexican food. But we also looked up some information about the tradition, and background, so we all learnt something new. We had a wonderful evening and will most likely do it again.
Thanksgiving is coming up, closely followed by 1st of Advent. Again; food involved. But we must not forget the most important ingredients – people and the opportunities/excuses to get together!
What are your traditions? Have you started any new ones? What happens when you move – do the traditions grow in importance or do they tend to fade away? Would love to hear your comments!
As I´m making pancakes for dinner I think about how this is one of the easy dishes that has followed us around the world. No matter where we have lived there has always been milk, flour and eggs for pancakes. We almost always make the thin ones. Sometimes a thick version in the oven, and occasionally American with baking powder. You say the word and everyone has their own perception of the dish in their mind. In Switzerland I remember inviting an American family over for an afternoon playdate. I made pancakes. Oh, the disappointment in the eyes of the visiting boys as we sat down to eat. Their mother tried desperately to explain how exciting it would be to try Swedish pancakes. But no. It just wasn´t their kind of pancake. To them the relocation to Europe was probably enough at the time. “Leave our pancakes alone!” #TCK
Do you know we use pancake in some Swedish idiomatic expressions ? Literal translations follows.
Upp som en sol ner som en pannkaka – Up like a sun down like a pancake
Himmel och pannkaka – Heaven and pancake
Det blir bara pannkaka av alltihop – It will all just be pancake
Marsch pannkaka! – Off you go, pancake!
“6 juni”. This used to be Swedish Flag Day. At school, as a teen, we celebrated with parade and flags. I remember once wearing shoelaces in yellow and blue. I don´t think I have celebrated since. Not in Sweden, but as a Swedish expat for sure. That´s what happens when you move abroad. The heritage you always took for granted becomes important.
June 6 was renamed National Day in 1983. Only made a public holiday seven years ago I guess not enough time has passed to establish any traditions. Why not start now? Consider the fact that we actually are able to celebrate – not a sure thing everywhere. Think about generations to come – traditions have to start somewhere! Do it for the children! Involve them.
Who is most likely to celebrate? Swedes abroad? Expats in Sweden? Hemvändare/repats? New Swedes? How will you celebrate? Any suggestions where to go or what to do?
Jordgubbstårta (strawberry cake) will be part of my new traditional National Day of Sweden. I might go for the shoelace-thing too.
#nationaldayofSweden on twitter
Cultural awareness – a great way to start improving our perception of different cultures is to actually be aware of our own culture. We think we are, but posing that question might not give instant replies. Think about it – what is typical in your culture?
Here is a link to an article on Swedish culture – 20 Swedish things you are bound to encounter in Sweden! Good to know if you are planning to move here, if you already live here as a foreigner/expat/new immigrant, or if you are planning to repatriate to Sweden. Or if you are Swedish, living abroad and want a good laugh or reminder, or even just Swedish in Sweden (if you are – make a test: before you open the article; list 20). Feel free to leave a comment if you want to add to the list!
http://www.thelocal.se/followsweden/article/20-things-to-know-before-moving-to-Sweden/#typical Swedish things!)
Att vara medveten om olika kulturer är värdefullt; både för oss själva som för andra. Är man kulturellt kompetent besitter man förmågan att interagera med människor från olika kulturer. Ett bra sätt att öka sin kompetens är att fundera över sin egen kultur. Vad är det som är svenskt egentligen? Frågan är inte alltid lätt; ofta är det så självklart att vi inte ens reflekterar över det. Det finns några givna som alltid dyker upp men försök komma på fler. Nedan följer en länk till en artikel, på engelska, som listar 20 typiskt svenska företeelser. Hur många prickade du in på din egen lista? Har du några fler förslag så kommentera gärna!
Om du ska flytta utomlands kan det vara kul att ha en liknande lista dels att jämföra med den nya kulturen, dels att dela med sig av då folk undrar hur det är i Sverige!