Winter solstice

Or the shortest day of the year. It happens tomorrow, and here in Northern Sweden, the day barely reaches 3.5 hours. Could have been worse, if I was located above the Arctic Circle – the sun doesn’t even show up above the horizon.

Since the twilight here is considerably longer than in the South, it means that the day is a bit longer than 3.5 hours. Anyway, we get the advantages of it in the Summer. People may not understand, but after 7/8h working, I can still enjoy, at least, 7/8h outside, with a bright and warm sun 🙂

And though it may be cold (-20 ºC when I took these pictures), it is still worth to go outside and bedazzle at this! After a 2h hike, we had to go inside a bus station, to have our picnic and hot tea, and warm up. With this kind of temperatures, the moist from our breathing turns immediately to ice, and this weather requires a lot more effort from our lungs, so it is very important to dress accordingly, and rest once in a while!

I never thought I would say this, but so far, Winter is the most beautiful season in Sweden. Call me insane, but I’ve never seen these kind of landscapes. Yes, I still love the Summer and a nice day at the beach, but these are possibly the most amazing pictures I’ve ever taken.

And what a nice White Christmas this will be =)

Advertisements

Julbord

This is the name given to the wide buffet that takes place during December, in restaurants all over Sweden, as well as in Swedish homes.

It starts with the glögg and a pepparkakor cookie. Weird way to start, right? Then the fish appetizers (more than 20 different dishes, among trout, salmon, herring, codfish…), with a lot of different sauces, as well. Then the meat appetizers, which includes a wide range of ham, reindeer, moose… Finally, it is time for the warm food, which includes both meat and fish, and even some vegetarian options. After all, we are in Sweden, the equality country 🙂 The traditional drink is Julmust, the Swedish version of Coke, but tastier! As all this wasn’t enough, there’s the traditional table with desserts, which includes both cheese and crackers, and cakes and cookies, with the so much appreciated coffee or tea.

It is quite different from the Christmas table in Portugal, and I liked it better, because it includes a lot of fish. Something I do not appreciate in Portugal is all those typical fried sweets. Here, everything is baked and much healthier (my stomach appreciates it!).

And this was my first Christmas dinner this year, quite different and interesting! The second one will be in Israel, maybe even more exotic, since they don’t celebrate Christmas there!

Christmas Time

IMG_7986

Although Christmas is celebrated a bit everywhere, it is mostly, a Northern Hemisphere tradition. We always associate it with cold and snowy days. Has anyone ever heard of Christmas in the Fiji Islands? No…

So, nothing better to celebrate Christmas, than driving to the Arctic Circle, and meet the real Santa Claus. I know it’s the typical tourist route, but I had to visit Rovaniemi in the high season, at least, once. Done! And it was not so crowded as I had imagined (apparently, most people arrive just before Christmas’ days). The weather was quite nice (sunny!) but it snowed overnight, making it impossible to spot the Northern Lights 😦 And Santa Claus did not give me a reindeer, said he needs all of them to make sure presents are delivered on time. Yes, right…

Swedes start to decorate their houses and gardens during November. It is a dark month, and all the light eases away the lack of sun. In December, there is not a single house without the red star or the traditional candlestick.

Christmas time for Swedes means also extended holidays. With all the holidays and weekends combined, in a generous year like 2015, it is possible to have 15 days away, using only 5 working days. Like the Summer period, this is the time of the year where most Swedes take holidays, whether for staying in Sweden with their families, or going as further South as they can, to get a glimpse of Sun!

Last weekend, I tasted the glögg (like the German glühwein) for the first time, and I loved it! The only wine (if I can call it wine) that I like. And why is that? Because it’s made of a mixture of red wine with spices and raisins – delicious! They say we should drink it with the traditional Swedish ginger cookies (pepparkakor). There’s a lot more food in Christmas but, as always, there’s more meat than fish!

Dear Santa…

I never thought I would write another letter to you, not at this age! It’s been 15 years since I last visited you at your office, in Rovaniemi. It was off season (July), when my parents decided to bring me to Scandinavia for the first time. Never would I foresee that one day I would be living here, quite close from you. So, I am looking forward to visit Rovaniemi again, this time without the Midnight Sun, but hopefully, with the Northern Lights!

You know I’ve been a good girl this year, but I don’t think I can ask for much! Last year, Christmas came in a bit earlier for me, when I got the job offer in Sweden (though, I don’t know why you made me wait for so long!). This year, well… Christmas arrived even earlier, when you sent me that wonderful package from the Netherlands (I am still unwrapping it!). Don´t tell me Christmas will arrive at my birthday, next year! We should stick to the dates, right? 😉

Since I have a nice job that provides me enough money to live a happy life, and a nice house facing the forest and the Northern Lights, I can only wish for good health. You know I have still 150 countries to visit, right? And next year, sounds it’s going to be a big traveling year, isn’t that so? Some of my friends also begged me to ask you for the lottery numbers. Do you think you can fix that for them?

It must be hard not being able to attend all the requests or answer all the letters, but there are certainly much more needy people than me. Take care of the refugees, poor kids and sheltered animals, throughout the whole world.

And last but not least, could you spare me a reindeer? I will try to learn how to ski or snowboard, but I fear I might be too old for that… And sometimes, there’s so much snow between my house and the office, that I would feel much more comfortable riding a reindeer. Plus, they are environmentally friendly, unlike snowmobiles! Come on, don’t be selfish, you have a big herd 🙂

PS – Since the mining industry is facing a downturn, in case it gets worse, please consider me for a job position. I already know the meaning of living in Lapland!