Blanketed in snow, Stockholm is a beautiful sight.
It all began around a month ago when we had our first snow fall. Suddenly snow not only fell but it became the subject of every conversation, everywhere you looked there was some mention of snow: newspaper headlines, classroom natter, simple chat on public transport and of course facebook was swarmed with snowy updates! Since then the temperature has been steadily dropping, much to the fear of us that have never experienced double digit minus figures…I have been told that in the past the local temperature has even dropped to a staggering -37C, yikes!
The first blanket of snow in the Swedish countryside.
Last week things took a turn. I woke up to a mystical sight: at the level of my apartment the air was cloudy, for a moment I stood and wondered, why is there fog at this level and then like a light speck of snow it struck me, this isn’t fog, this is very fast falling snow, a snow blizzard of sorts. Unlike other ferocious weather conditions, a snow blizzard can seem serenely quite, what you see from the inside is somewhat deceiving for as I walked out in this slight Armageddon I was faced with a hill of snow (which of course I walked straight into), wind was whooshing this way and that and I could barely see ahead one metre let alone any further. But oh what fun it was…I felt like a little child fascinated by the simple things in life…snow!
The fountain outside the Nobel Forum as snow continues to fall.
Nightfall sets over Stockholm and the mountains of snow reflect shadows….this one is of a tree.
With the snow comes many changes,the landscape looks cotton wool white, people indulge in heartwarming food and drink, including the famous glögg (mulled wine) and everyone looks two or three sizes bigger wearing all sorts of winter clothing, many donning a pair of traditional Lovika mittens!
With all things I write I like to tell you a little about them, so:
Glögg is a delicious pre-bedtime warmer. When glögg season arrived I decided to buy a bottle of glögg from a local supermarket, I rushed back home eager to try my first serving of the season. I poured some into a tea mug, much to the dismay of my Swedish friend – aghast by what I was doing he exclaimed “Naieya, what ARE you doing?” I was slightly startled and began to explain what I was doing. “No! You don’t have that much glögg, you drink glögg in a small cup and not a whole mugful!” And so I learnt, in Sweden, glögg is served in special small cups, to which people add almonds and raisins and enjoy with a ginger snap or two.
Glögg brewing over a candle with small cups ready and waiting.
Lovikka mittens, during my first winter in Sweden I was given a pair of these mittens as a present and told that these were traditional mittens and to look after my pair well. I never learnt where the name Lovikka comes from. However having done a bit of reading I can share with you my knowledge: Lovikka is a Swedish town where one day in the 1800s Erika Aittama knitted a pair of mittens for a local woodsman, the man was unimpressed and returned the mittens to Erika; Erika clearly eager to rectify this, washed and brushed the mittens to create the Lovikka mittens you might see on the hands of those in Sweden today! (Thanks to Heart of Lovikka for this history lesson: http://www.heartoflovikka.se/shop/about-heart-lovikka-i-9.html?language=en).
My very own Lovikka mittens. Photo: Oscar Eriksson.
And now a final word on the landscape. The carpet of snow is a welcome change to the dark and short days. It brightens up the day and things look and feel a lot more fun! Christmas feels closer especially with fir trees covered with thick layers of snow, haphazardly balancing on the branches,and if you’re lucky and trek into the countryside you might even catch a glimpse of a deer (Rudolph as I like to say).
I think I might start singing: “Rudolph the red nose reindeer….”
And with all this: glögg, mittens, christmas trees, deers and SNOW, I think I’m well and truly ready for the festive season…let the christmas songs and present wrapping/unwrapping begin…
Let it be Christmas eve so I can imagine Santa Claus gliding on his sleigh through the night sky. Photo: Oscar Eriksson.