Four seasons of Sweden

Four seasons of Sweden

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@Paula Dubbink
Illustration: Cecilia Hansson

Did you start your exchange or master’s last month? Even if you’re mainly focusing on finding a bike and a Swedish phone right now, you might be curious what the rest of the year will have in store for you. Here’s an outline on some Swedish holidays, which will also give you some new Swedish vocabulary.

Autumn
In case you were wondering what those groups in the strange overalls were doing during the first weeks: they are part of the nollning. This is an initiation ritual for new students, in which they wear different uniforms depending on their programme or faculty. If you are lucky you might also be able to join in on a Swedish end-of-summer tradition: the kräftskiva. At this traditional dinner, you eat crayfish, drink snaps and wear a funny hat. And you sing songs of course – but that might happen at virtually every dinner in Sweden.

After this, there is no denying anymore: the study year has started. But of course there is time for leisure too – don’t forget to celebrate Kulturnatten (Culture Night) at the end of September, when Lund turns into a big podium. By then you might already have finished your first courses and been rewarded with some hp – the Swedish word for ECTS. Congratulations! Celebrate by honoring Kanelbullensdag on October 4th.

This not so old tradition celebrates the existence of the delicious cinnamon bun.

Winter
Getting tired of the darkness already? Stay strong, November is just the beginning. If you’re lucky this is also the month you could see the first Lundanian snow, which fits very well to the beginning of Advent, the four-week preparation period for Christmas. The Swedes take this holiday very seriously, despite being one of the most secularized people. Be prepared for Christmas trees and lights everywhere.

In December you will discover that you indeed can survive on daylight between 9 AM and 3.30 PM. To your help in this dreadful time comes Sankta Lucia: an Italian saint that for some reason appears in Sweden on the 13th with candles in her hair. This is also the month of pepparkakor (ginger bread cookies), lussekatter (saffron buns) and julskinka (Christmas ham).

Some time in the second week of January, all Swedish students that have gone home for the holidays will return. A good time to make a bucket list for your time in Sweden, because time will start to fly when the days start to lengthen.

If you get depressed that winter is still not over in February, increase your sugar intake with a semla: a pastry traditionally eaten before Lent, but which can be bought from late December until April nowadays. It contains an insane amount of cream.

Spring
Somewhere in march you will start to notice that the worst cold and darkness are gone. This is also the month where you might see a lot of colored feathers on sticks standing outside shops – an interesting Swedish Easter tradition. April brings, with some luck, the first warmth and ends with Lund’s most crazy party: Valborg. A big, big picnic in the City park that starts early in the morning. Hardly recovered from this, you head to the white University building to hear the men’s choir celebrate the beginning of Spring (indeed, only now) on Första Maj (May 1st). Around this time, you might also get a mail in your university mailbox for the kårval – student union elections. Better find out now who they are: the student-representing bodies at the different faculties.

Summer
The coming of June is also the beginning of the end. The academic year is almost over. Many student organizations will celebrate with a grillfest: a nice barbecue, where often everyone brings their own food and drinks. Done with your academic duties, it is time to load for the biggest national holiday – and no it isn’t Nationaldagen on June 6th, nobody really cares about that. Midsommar is a lot bigger; a holiday filled with dancing like a frog around the maypole, discovering that it still isn’t completely dark at 11 PM and picking flowers to put under your pillow to dream of your future lover.

still not done? Hang out in Lund for July and experience the very non-typical phenomenon of tystnad – silence. With all the students having gone home for summer, Lund is remarkably quiet, which actually can be nice after the year you just have had.

 

illustration cecilia hansson

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