Thursday, March 24, 2011

Waffle Day

Since the beginning of the month I had been noticing an inordinate number of area stores advertising waffle irons at reduced prices. I didn’t figure it out until I glanced through the grocery circulars earlier this week.

Tomorrow is International Waffle Day, a holiday that actually originated here in Sweden. The stores around Falköping wouldn’t let anyone forget it, either:

“Våffeldagen” is not to be confused with National Waffle Day in the United States in August, which honors the first patented waffle iron in 1869. One of those “holidays” I had no idea existed before writing this.

Exactly nine months before Christmas, Våffeldagen corresponds with the religious celebration of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (“Our Lady’s Day,” or “Vårfrudagen” in Swedish). The Annunciation celebrates Gabriel informing Mary that she was pregnant with Jesus Christ.

March 25 isn’t so much a religious holiday today as it is the day Swedes welcome spring, though it’s a few days behind the first day of the season on the calendar. (Side note: it may not feel like spring yet at least as far as temperatures are concerned, but our days below freezing seem to finally be gone. One thing’s for sure: the days are getting longer, and it’s nice having light in the sky until almost 7 p.m. again).

I’ve read two common explanations of the incorporation of waffles, which in Sweden aren’t so much a breakfast food as they are a dessert treat smothered with whipped cream and jam.

Neither explanation is particular convincing. Some people claim Vårfrudagen was pronounced like “Vafferdagen” in certain dialects. Others say that Swedish women have historically swapped their winter chores for spring tasks on March 25, and one of those is making waffles.

Either way, interesting custom. Count me in.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

No Bad Weather, Only Bad Clothing

“Där finns ingen dålig väder, bara dålig kläder.”

“There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”

It’s one of the most popular Swedish sayings, and I finally learned the true meaning tonight.

I threw on one of my warmest fleeces and walked across town to our friends’ apartment a little after 8 to catch some March Madness hoops action.

I wouldn’t exactly say it was warm outside, but we’ve had much colder nights over the past few months.

Amanda and I ran the paved loop around Falköping earlier this afternoon and couldn’t stop talking about how much the weather had improved during the two weeks I was back home in California. Virtually all of the snow had melted and sidewalks and roads were dry. It really looked and felt like spring was right around the corner.

I left our friends’ place a little before midnight and walked out into a legitimate snowstorm. I couldn’t believe how much snow had fallen in only three hours.

I love fleece jackets. A quality light fleece can rival a thick down, in my opinion. As warm as they are, though, fleeces are not waterproof. Tonight’s blizzard was a wet reminder.

Swedes say there’s always one short yet big storm right before spring actually arrives, and I hope this is it. If the long-range forecast is even close to accurate, it looks like things could finally warm up significantly next week.