Clothing is Key
Today I attended a (mostly) outdoor Scouting Fair in Uppsala. It was the coldest day in a series of cold days. The temperature hovered around 10 degree Fahrenheit. It’s days like these that one truly understands why there is a Swedish saying “No bad weather, only bad clothing.” (Inga dåliga väder, bara dåliga kläder.) I had on my warmest and longest down jacket. A few weeks ago when I complained about constant swings between feeling too hot and feeling too cold, I could not wear this jacket because it was too warm. There’s something wrong with my jacket (for the record, a deep eggplant color, not the typical Swedish black jacket) because it squeezes out feathers all over my indoor clothing and I have to use one of those roller things when I take it off. But it’s so worth it when it’s this cold. Anyway, I had that on, two shirts, a fleece “neck warmer (a tube that you wear around your neck and can pull up over your mouth and nose if needed-like a scarf but better). I did draw it up over my face today because my nose was so cold! I had my warmest boots on and two pairs of socks so my feet were warm. I also had long underwear pants and a hat.
The recent snowfall was the driest snow I’ve ever seen. It almost looked like fake snow used in a store window holiday scene because it was so fluffy. The sound of my boots was unusually loud on the snow.
These Swedes are so tough that they will hold and outdoor fair in 10 degrees and lots of people will come! This particular neighborhood scouting fair was a fundraiser for the scouts. They sold used articles people had donated; Christmas trees; baked goods; marzipan, hotdogs, etc. Kids took horseback rides.
There were also a number of different lotteries. You could pay for a number and then watch while a wheel was spun, hoping it would stop on your number. There was a “bingo-style” lottery where a number was selected at random from a rotating miniature barrel. There was a lot of gingerbread hearts with numbers and you could pick one. If there was a mark on the back, you won a prize (often more gingerbread). You also got to take along the number heart you picked.
Part of the fair was inside a church building (though this building was only borrowed, the Swedish Scouts consciously removed any link to the church (in their verbal oaths, songs, etc.) a few years ago. I was relieved to get into the warm, wood paneled interior.
In the largest room, they had a “fiskdamm” (“fish pond”) which you see at just about any child event. This involves the child holding onto a makeshift fishing pole. With guidance, the fishing line goes over a screen and someone on the other side ties a prize to the line. Then the line is hauled back over the side to the waiting child. It’s normally for the “ten and under” crowd.
A scout band played. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a tuba and a guitar playing together! They take whomever they can get, of course. After the band played, a teenage girl got up and sang “Blue Christmas” with a piano accompanist and then a 12-year old magician performed some card tricks.
The whole fair was, well, adorable. What could feel more festive around Christmastime than neighbors greeting each other at a fair, enjoying hot coffee on a cold day, the thrill of winning a prize…