Tag archives for Vårtecken

B-List Signs of Spring

Before I lived in Sweden, spring was a time of year that I looked forward to and enjoyed. End of story.

Now that I’ve lived in Sweden, I have a completely different relationship with spring. Spring is renewal! Spring is rebirth! Spring is a season in which winter clothing is joyfully and deliberately shed, one layer at a time! Spring is something to be savored and rejoiced in.

In that vein, I first learned about “vårtecken,” or “signs of spring,” about this time last year, when I was coming out of my first Dreadful Swedish Winter. I was instantly enchanted by the concept.

Vårtecken lead to “vårkänslor,” or the feelings of happiness brought about by the coming of spring, and therefore I am all totally obsessed with finding and cataloging different signs of spring in order to reassure myself that yes, winter is really and truly giving way to spring! 

Normally, people understand the word “vårtecken” as including a variety of spring flowers, different birds returning from their winter residences on the Mediterranean (jealous), and an obsessive interest in the weather/hours of sunlight.

One thing I just learned from the Sustainability blog here at Sweden.se is that you can actually become an official, registered observer of spring (that’s “Phenology Observer,” to you) and report your findings back to the Swedish Meteorological Institute, which is totally awesome. If I knew anything about nature, which (sadly) I don’t, I would be so there.

Leaving tradition behind, however…

I’m going to go ahead and take a quantum leap in the common understanding of vårtecken and say that there are way more signs of spring than just those found in nature. In celebrity gossip terminology (a field of knowledge in which I have a deep and abiding interest), sprouting crocuses and budding wildflowers would be the “A-list” signs of spring. Everyone recognizes them and can name their last five romantic partners gets excited about them.

But what about the B-Listers? They’re people signs of spring, too! You know, the rash of bedazzled twigs and seasonal soft drinks and (ahem) important birthdays!

Since I am well and truly obsessed with spring (thanks a lot, Swedification), I just had to make a list, and here it is, the “B-List Signs of Spring.”

Feathers, feathers, everywhere! Photos: Kate Reuterswärd

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Bring on the Spring!

Signs of the season: spring flowers, muddy sidewalks, balmy breezes and best of all—sun, glorious sun!

Two weeks ago, I was surprised to wake up one weekend morning because of sun shining into our bedroom, a first in this new apartment. Now the sun is up ahead of me even on weekdays, making it unnecessary for me to turn on the kitchen light as I groggily make my way towards the coffee pot in the morning.

And would you believe it, I’m finally down to wearing just one coat and one pair of socks instead of two of each.

Blooming flowers, sunny train stations, babbling brooks: Spring! Spring! Spring! Photos: Kate Reuterswärd

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Getting that SPRING! feeling

Vårkänslor, plural noun.

The feelings of extreme happiness, giddy expectation, dizzying euphoria, etc. one gets when it finally appears as though spring is coming.

Att få vårkänslor, idiom.

To get the spring feeling.

Translation: Ooooooooh yeahhhh!

For those of you who don’t live in a land far, far away from the Equator, let me tell you something: there is a kind of madness sweeping the country, a madness that can only be described as spring fever. All through the winter, complaints about the weather were coupled with promises about the eventual paradise that would follow as well as the tidal wave of happiness that would sweep the nation. And now it is here.

“Just you wait,” these supposedly-friendly Swedes would say, with a glint in their eyes and a cinnamon bun in their hands. “You’ll see… When the sun starts coming out…” And then their sentences would start to trail off, and they would look away at some distant point in the distance.

They weren’t lying. What’s more, I have to admit that I am a totally willing participant in this kind of craziness. Everywhere around me are vårtecken, or “signs of spring,” and I have become a slave to both the sunshine and tomorrow’s weather forecast. I can tell that I’m getting just as crazy as everyone else because I catch myself repeating my Swedish friends’ assurances that Spring is coming! Spring is here! to non-Swedes. “Feeeeeel the sun warming your body!” I implored an American friend, echoing one of my Swedish friend’s earlier exhortations. “It’s stroooong enough to warm your body now!!”

On the left, the Vitsippa flower, a common sign of spring. On the right, yours truly, caught in a moment of spring-induced euphoria. Vitsippa by Kiolero on Flickr.

Clearly, the spring feeling is contagious.

Flowers blooming are one of the more obvious vårtecken, but there are subtler signals as well. Some of the ways I can tell that spring is coming to Lund include, for example, the disappearance of the last lingering traces of the snow mountain created by plows during the winter downfall, the reappearance of outdoor seating areas at downtown cafes, a sudden proliferation of rabbits. You know, that sort of thing.

Flowers! Sunshine! A lawn for lounging! It is paradise.

With all the vårtecken visible around here, the past couple of weeks have been full of vårkänslor for me. Some of the ways I can tell that I have a bad case of vårkänslor are:

Feeling the sun warm my face on the bus to my babysitting job, promising to take the kids to get ice cream even though the wind outside the bus makes it less warm than it felt inside the bus, actually taking the kids to get ice cream.

Going to the grocery store with a friend, buying bread, cheese, and mustard, having a picnic outside on the grass, not even minding that the ground was somewhat damp.

Waking up and seeing the sun shining through the curtains; feeling suddenly compelled to make banana pancakes for my still-sleeping boyfriend and doing it.

Meeting friends for a beer in the sunshine, refusing to move from the outdoor seating area to the inside of the bar until the sun has completely disappeared from the sky and not even fleece blankets can stop our shivers.

Going for a walk outside, taking my coat off and putting it back on as I move between the sunny and cloudy parts of the sidewalk, all while grinning insanely at strangers and having them smile back.

Being a permissive babysitter: definitely a sign of (spring) fevered weakness.

The one thing I’m holding out on? Going from just talking about how I’m going to go upstairs to the storage space in the attic to bring down my spring clothes and actually doing it. I don’t want to jinx a good thing!


Surfing around on Twitter, I can see that everyone has different triggers and different things to say about vårkänslor in Sweden. What gives you “that spring feeling?” A sport? An activity? A special piece of clothing? An unusual tradition? Leave your answers in the comments.