The unpredictable Swedish weather makes Swedes always ready for changes, waiting for the right moment to put on swimsuits or skis. Does this in part explain why Swedes are so trend sensitive? And what on earth does that have to do with heroin addicts?
Jacob Sundberg is a Swedish author (http://jacobsundberg.se) and Johannes Koch is a German journalist. Together they hypothesize, entertain and enlighten you about a wide variety of topics ranging from the trivial to the existential - and usually spin them out into their illogical conclusions. At times philosophical, at times psychological but hardly ever researched or serious, they jostle with a new (Un)cultured Hypothesis every other week.
Today I’m gonna talk about the weather. But it’s not just gonna be small talk, it’s gonna be BIG talk about the weather.
So hear me out. In Sweden we have really short summers. And I mean really really short summers. There’s a classic joke which goes something like: “I really enjoyed last summer, I think it was on a Saturday”. We don’t really have summer at all in Sweden, I mean we BELIEVE that we have summer, but we don’t. Most people of my age will have experienced somewhere around 30 to 40 real summer days in Sweden. Ever. But when we look back on those summer days – say, three days when we were ten, one day when we were eleven, and so on – we place them all in one mythological summer, a pretend year of our youth. Imagine 30, 40 consecutive days of swimming in lakes, running naked in the meadows, getting stung by a wasp but that’s alright cause you get your first kiss as well, and you catch your own fish in the dim light of the almost - but not quite - setting sun.
And that’s why most Swedes say that THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A SWEDISH SUMMER, because we accumulate all those summer days and place them in a nostalgic light. And in a way I agree that there’s nothing like a Swedish summer, I quite enjoy that day of the year, if it comes.
But yeah, I would argue that we really don’t have summers in Sweden.
But then, we don’t have winter either. I know that most people think that Sweden is a country of snow and ice for six months a year, and that is true for the northern part, which admittedly is the largest part geographically, but demographically it constitutes something like 7 percent. So anywhere from Stockholm and south, we don’t have real winter. Although WE DO have winter, but it’s very unpredictable. The Swedish winter is about as reliable as a heroin addict. It doesn’t really show up when you had agreed, but then it might show up at four a m pounding on your door frantically, screaming profanities at you, and then leaving again as if saying “ah screw it”. So one day there’s a blizzard and twenty degrees below zero, and the next day it’s just slush and rain.
The keyword is unpredictability. Someone noted the other year that we had the same temperature one Christmas as we did on midsummer.
You might suspect that this moody weather, you know, which is lashing out at you for no reason and then wanting to be best friends, you might suspect that this would turn Swedish people into Stoics, that it would toughen us, but it doesn’t. We whine about everything. At least I do.
Yeah, it’s probably just me when I think of it. Because there’s a standard phrase that we have here, which goes “there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing.” This is particularly used by Swedish parents who project their outdoor compulsion onto their children. And it’s largely accepted as fact, you can actually end discussions by taking recourse to that expression. “You do know that there’s no such thing as bad weather” – OH yeah, that’s right, I forgot, sorry.
No such thing as bad weather, that’s a horrible thing to say to someone who lost their house in a hurricane. “So you’re homeless now? Aaawwh, did you wear that raincoat I gave you… no you didn’t, did you? And look what happened. Well at least