Thought of the Week: Snow, Gothenburg Weather and Christmas Spirit

2010-12-12. Published in Life in Gothenburg
by Nils Pasi

The third candle is lighted today. Only one more Sunday before Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day, for that matter. Two days ago, I walked the length of the Avenue, from Gustav Adolfs Torg to Götaplatsen, carrying a torch. I was one of many, and it was a wonderful sight seeing the flickering flames from so many torches. And then the last remaining Christmas lights between Götaplatsen and Gustav Adolfs Torg where turned on. Finally – or maybe not finally, but for the sake of this article I need to stop somewhere – tomorrow is the 13th, which in Sweden translates to Lucia. Yes, this is indeed a time when the Christmas Spirit runs high. So why, oh why, did much of the snow yield to rain just prior to the drop in temperature?

Is snow really necessary for the proper Christmas feel? Maybe, it depends on where you are from. We have had several Christmases in Gothenburg when the streets have been completely barren of  snow, but then, it just feels wrong when that happens. It could be all the films and TV programs where Santa Clause is flying across the sky in a sledge, and needs snow covered rooftops to land on, or maybe it is old children's books my mother used to read for me, about the Swedish 'tomtar' whom you needed to appease by placing a bowl of hot porridge in the snow outside the farmhouse door – either way, to me, snow is an essential part of the Christmas Spirit.

I probably should not live in Gothenburg then. Typical Gothenburg winter weather looks something like this: It is cold, very cold. The streets are dark and dry. Then the temperatures rise and it snows, either a little or a lot, and the city gets covered in pure, clean white. It is so beautiful, and it really helps light up the city in these dark times. Then the temperatures rise some more, and it starts to rain, transforming the snow to this grey and brownish slush which cars and boots send cascading in all directions. Most of the snow has usually disappeared by the time the temperature takes a nose dive and what was previously gray or brownish slush turns into grey or brownish ice. Then some times passes before all of it is repeated once more.

So, do I ever feel the proper Christmas Spirit in Gothenburg? Sure I do. I really like Gothenburg, despite the weather, and we have already had a few days of proper, white snow, not to mention that I have walked from Gustav Adolfs Torg to Götaplatsen, carrying a burning torch, in real snow! Besides, yesterday something else happened that is also essential to my feeling the proper Christmas Spirit: O Helga Night (Adoplhe Adam's 'O Holy night'). For me, it is not Christmas unless I hear O Helga Natt live at least once. This year I did, thanks to a friend of mine and the choir that she is a part of. A most wonderful concert, concluded with the fabulous O Helga Natt. Christmas is here!

Happy 3rd Advent, everybody!

/Nils, team 2010