Monday, November 12, 2007

A Long November in Stockholm

It’s November. There’s not a whole lot going on in Stockholm. It’s getting darker and colder as the Swedish winter reminds you to never venture outside with gloves. Never. It’s the kind of cold that gives you an ice cream headache without the benefit of the ice cream. The kind of cold that makes you walk way too fast considering there is ice on the ground. People everywhere look like a wildebeest in one of those National Geographic documentaries learning to walk. It’s hilarious, until you realize that you’re all in the exact same boat, at which point it becomes a fight for survival.

With November come all the Christmas decorations. Christmas trees are being set up all throughout Stockholm. Norrmalmstorg already has its tree up. I couldn’t believe Christmas was already being advertised. I mean, people complain in the US about the commercialization of Christmas and how it comes earlier each year so people have more time to shop. Gotta burn that disposable income before the stock market crashes anymore or the dollar gets even weaker. But here Christmas ornaments come out at the beginning of November. Julmust, a sort of sweet cola like drink that is only sold during the Christmas season, is out in stores. Special baked goods that only make an appearance during Christmas are out and about. Lights are being strung up, hell; it’s just a matter of time before the stockings are hung by the chimney with care. This has all been so foreign to me. And then it hit me. November in Sweden sucks.

Swedes have nothing in November. The leaves are gone and it’s not quite time for the snow to really stick around. And there are no holidays. They don’t even really have anything in October. December is the month to be at the end of the year, there’s Santa Lucia and then of course Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Eve. It’s just a smattering of glorious Holidays and reasons to go to System Bolaget.

In the US however, we have things to tide us over until Christmas. Halloween for example. Which makes a half-hearted appearance here but never really does much. It’s like your bum neighbor who offers to help but mostly just wants you to offer him a beer after the work is done. Basically, it shows up but doesn’t perform. The Swedes just aren’t that into it. It’s damn cold by then too. And dark. That brings us to November.

November on the Swedish calendar is devoid of exciting things. American has Thanksgiving. And while the Swedes might be talked into celebrating Halloween they most definitely will not celebrate Thanksgiving. They just don’t seem all that impressed by a bunch of English immigrants landing on Plymouth Rock and having a happy-go-lucky dinner with the friendly natives. It doesn’t seem to translate all that well over here. Which is why Christmas is already showing its face in Stockholm.

Part of me is annoyed and confused. It’s early November and I haven’t even watched a single NFL game. Christmas is not here yet. And another part of me is pumped because it means Christmas lights throughout the city and that always helps when the sun sets at 3:30 in the afternoon.

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  1. Don't forget Black Friday! the biggest shopping day of the year! Crap i'm gunna miss it now. damn

  2. Welcome to Nordic countries! It's the same in Finland, only worse :)
    And we have similar party behaviour as the Swedes. So nothing weird here from my point of view. And, yes, it sucks!

  3. It's not an easy time to be living in this part of the world. THat's clearly why everyone looks forward to December. Plus once that winter solstice hits every day gets just a little bit lighter. One more reason to love December!

  4. Just think of the Counting Crows song and rename it A Long November.

    The NFL season is a bit football, on the other hand, has proved to be having an insane year :)

    My birthday is on solstice...always interesting to see the shortest day of the year

  5. I'm glad someone got that reference! The title came to me like a vision. Or like a song on iTunes.

    I know, I've been checking up on it all but seriously I just want to watch a game.

    On a sidenote. My brother, CBCC, pointed out that this post was full of errors. Hopefully, I've fixed the more egregious ones. Obviously, while my Swedish might be getting better, my English is getting worse.

  6. Isn't there an ESPN? I used to watch football games on ESPN when I visited India...Or you may have to get a subscription online.

    That's the fun...worser English and better Swedish. ;)

  7. nope. theres TV4 Sport which replaced Eurosport much to my dismay. TV4 Sport shows soccer. No NFL games. Eurosport did though But now I have nothing.

    My English is definitely getting worser. And my Swedish is getting bättre.

  8. Over here (Dominican Republic) stores put the Christmas decorations at (guess guess) SEPTEMBER! No one beats that :P

  9. Oh wow... that is just much too early. Of course this response is much too late.