On an Overrated Swedish Season

June 22, 2009 at 16:46 Leave a comment

Every now and then people ask me why I would want to leave Sweden to move to Israel. Swedes have a tendency to ask this especially at this time of year — at the beginning of the glorious Scandinavian summer season. I do admit that there are a lot of positive aspects to life in Sweden, but — as opposed to popular belief — the month of June is not its finest hour.

The weather in Scandinavia never fails to disappoint: despite the fact that there’s daylight 24/7 (which complicates sleeping), it’s still always too cold and too rainy. The only things that seem to thrive in the Scandinavian climate in June, are the mosquitoes and the grass, leaving you forced to spend hours out in the cold, mowing your lawn while fighting off swarms of noisy insects out to suck your blood.

But, the blue-and-yellow patriots protest, there are some lovely holidays in June: graduation week, June 6, and Midsummer. Don’t I miss these highlights in the civic calendar of celebrations?

Surely you must be joking.

Graduation week, which — by the way — seemed to be at least a month long last time I experienced it, is nothing but a never ending torture session for anyone who’s not graduating from high school. All those trucks decorated with whatever greenery these poor kids have managed to scrape together, balloons, embarrassing childhood photos, blown up to mega-size for everyone to see — and everything topped off with the latest hits, at ear-popping volume on repeat for hours and hours as they cruise around the city center clogging up traffic. The only place more congested is the liquor stores. The only reason the whole thing doesn’t annoy me more is the fact that the poor graduates seem to suffer more than the passers-by and on-lookers.

Then we have June 6. Where to begin?

Sometime in the last decade, the Swedes realized that they didn’t have a day of national celebration, like the Americans have July 4, or the French July 14, or the Norwegians May 17. So they decided to pick a day, and they went for June 6. It seemed like an appropriate choice, since this first of all was the day Gustav I was appointed king in 1523, thus reestablishing Sweden as an independent state, and secondly it was on June 6 that the constitution of 1809 was adopted.

The problem is just that when Gustav I became king, Sweden already had a monarch. As the illegal usurper he was, Gutav then went on to terrorize and impoverish his newly “liberated” Swedish people for decades. 

And what about the constitution of 1809, said to have paved the way for democracy in Sweden? Well, I don’t want to come off as excessively critical, but any document that begins “The king alone holds the power to rule the land” can’t really be seen as a beacon of democracy, can it? I mean, it’s not exactly “We the people…”

It’s a good thing that this particular constitution was scrapped in 1974 — but on the other hand that doesn’t make the celebration of it any more logical. No wonder that June 6 is rapidly becoming a day for politically confused teenagers to arrange street fights, thinly disguised as demonstrations — and to clog up the liquor stores.

That leaves us with Midsummer — the New Year’s of the summer season. By that I mean, that it’s one of those days where you’re supposed to have so much fun that the whole thing inevitably ends in a disappointment. Usually, what happens, is that you spend the day sitting outside — preferably at someone’s house in the country — eating outdoors dressed in your summer best, combined with a winter coat, trying to ignore the cold and the mosquitoes by engaging in some heavy imbibing. So, needless to say, the days leading up to this holiday see a lot of clogging up of the liquor stores.

All in all, June is probably the worst month of the year in Sweden. Not that November or February are all that great, but at least you don’t expect greatness from them, so you’re not all that disappointed when you suffer.

So, no, I don’t regret the move in June, when the temperature and humidity is still more or less under control in Tel Aviv, and the hordes of French tourists haven’t invaded yet. July and August, on the other hand, those are months to ponder a Scandinavian vacation — with lots of pull, as well as push, factors.


Entry filed under: Life.

Clausewitz and Cabs Something Rotten

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