On the shortest day of the year the sun comes up at 8:53am and goes down at 3:41pm. That is approximately 6 hours of sunlight, if the sun is even out. Some days it is dark and overcast all [6 hours of the] day. When I first moved here I would snicker at the locals who I would see standing on the street corners, or pretty much anywhere outside, with eyes closed and faces lifted toward the sun. They just stood there basking in the light of the sun. How silly. I even wondered why all of the Swedish families vacationed in the summer time to the south of Europe, where temperatures are in the upper 20’s, lower 30’s Celsius (80’s or 90’s Fahrenheit). Why would they leave Stockholm when it is the most beautiful time of the year here? Summer in Stockholm is glorious. Temperatures hover around 20-25 C (70’s Fahrenheit), the sun shines and you can go for a swim within walking distance nearly anywhere in the city.
I’ll tell you why. Now that I have lived here for two years I can tell you exactly why. The answer is simple, round, golden & warm: the sun. And it is not just the fact that it is so dark and cold all winter but even in the summer here, which is fairly short and sweet, it is not really, really warm (read: baking hot). I remember when we lived in Dallas, Texas and Carl’s sister and her daughter came to visit us in June one summer. It was really hot already, hitting triple Fahrenheit digits. And in that uncompromising summer weather in Texas they withstood the heat like true Texans. I could barely tolerate it and they would just say, “It’s hot, but it’s really nice”. Hot CAN be really nice. I now know this.
So, these days I try to find my own version of sunshine in the dark, cold, depressing winter of Sweden. Some days it is difficult. I work during the day and it is dark when I go into work and dark when I leave work. On days when the sun comes out I try to go for a walk during lunch but there are days when the sun remains hidden by the clouds and rain. Many people recommend candlelight and that can definitely be nice & cozy but sometimes it is just not enough. I've developed a borderline unhealthy relationship with watching movies and getting lost in back to back episodes of TV series. I try to get out and take long walks on the weekends, discover and try out new recipes, and I occasionally take a hot bath with some wonderfully, sensuous, lemon bath oil, which can be very helpful. I miss the sun but most of all I miss the heat. I am sure one or two days of over 100 Fahrenheit would cure that desire but right now, I could use a day of hot, sweat-inducing sunshine.
Speaking of sunshine, it is a glorious day outside today and I am luckily not working, due to the holiday. The Epiphany, or Trettondagen, which literal translates to the 13th day (after Christmas) is celebrated & observed Sweden. The sun is shining in a clear, blue sky and even though it is -4 Celsius (approx. 25 F) we are heading out for a nice long walk (Minus the sleep bag!)!