This past weekend my five year anniversary in Sweden came and went without much more than the thought of “huh, today it’s been five years since I moved to Sweden.” Five years is kind of a milestone though, so I have been giving some thought to my half-decade here and my gradual Swedification. It ranges from eating way too much korv (essentially hot dogs) to accepting, and actually appreciating, the fact that I need to “take a number” for many services. Here are a few of the things I have noted.
I have eaten more herring, korv (hot dogs), caviar, and crawfish since 2008 than in I did in the 37 years prior.
I join in the communal shock over people who leave their Christmas lights up past Knut (20 January).
In the spring, I love the song of the koltrast and anxiously await the sprouting nettles to make nässelsoppa, the explosion of the vibrant spring green in beech forests, and I make it a point to walk in the woods when the vitsippor are blooming.
I anxiously look forward to the short, Swedish strawberry season and have become rather picky about what variety I actually buy, and that they are, in fact, Swedish.
Words of this length, which are not uncommon in Swedish, no longer paralyze me: Realisationsvinstbeskattning, (but the translation is no fun…Capital Gains Tax).
I saw something that had spilled on the floor and found myself automatically exclaiming “oj joj joj!” (which essentially is an exclamation like “oh my goodness” but sounds like “oy yoy yoy!”).
I look forward to the arrival of semlor after Christmas, and am happy to see them go away for another nine months once Easter finally arrives.
I no longer find the påskris (feathers attached to birch branches at Easter) to be weird, I actually look forward to them.
I long for bonfires on 1 May with Valborgsmässoafton and want to be outside near one even though I know it will inevitably really cold weather.
Jam with cheese is one of my favorite snacks.
Making my own elderflower saft is a much anticipated event. I love picking the spicy blossoms early in the morning before the sun comes up.
I automatically look for the nummerlapp (take a number ticket) when I enter a bank, pharmacy, government agency, or doctor’s office and it doesn’t phase me anymore (although it still makes me chuckle) that I may need to take a number, to get a number (no kidding on that one).
I have been sucked into Melodifestivalen and made my first televote for Loreen in last year’s competition.
I have prepared falukorv (essentially a giant hot dog that will feed 4 people) for dinner by choice.
I’ve foraged for wild blueberries, raspberries, havtorn, lingonberries, nettles, smultron, and chanterelles, and summer isn’t complete until I have been to the strawberry patch to pick my own berries.
I fully expect that things kind of shut-down during July when things are semester stängt (closed for the holiday).
Meatballs make great picnic food.
I inadvertently served seven different kinds of cookies to a friend when they came to visit once (there is a classic Swedish tradition that any hostess worth her salt serves seven different kinds of cookies to her guests at coffee hour).
Open-faced sandwiches are the way to go.
I know that kanelbullensdag (cinnamon bun day) is October 4.
I find a sense of peace in the lighting of candles on Alla Helgons Dag for loved ones who have gone before us.
I tear up when my daughters are dressed as Lucia and sing in the procession.
I have accepted that red hearts are Christmas decorations and lutefisk is pretty edible if you add homemade mustard to the bernaise sauce (topping it with a little bacon doesn’t hurt either).
All of those things aside, there are still limits to my Swedification. I continue to think it is weird that people drink hot coffee from a thermos on a hot summer day at the beach, and there is one thing that I still have not done, and don’t plan to do, which is to sit in a super-hot sauna with a bunch of naked strangers (perhaps even some naked friends) and then jump into an icy, winter sea. For now, I say “no thanks”. Perhaps by 10 years in Sweden I will have done it, but quite frankly, I doubt it.
note: the bonfire photo is by Britt-Marie Sohlström, April 30, 2011 in Böle, Jamtland, Sweden