“Tack och lov.” Literally translated these words mean “thanks and praise.” A remnant of the Christian past of Sweden. Or better said, the Christian past of Europe. I read an interesting article by Jeff Fountain the other day, a reflection on just how much of what we take for granted as European comes from our Christian heritage. You can see the article here.
The words are used in Sweden a bit like the expression “thank heavens” in English. But I like “tack och lov” better because it seems to be directed at a person (God) – rather than a place (heaven). It is a bit more personal.
But what have I to be thankful for? Spring has come. Although it has not exactly exploded into our lives, it is gradually gaining a hold. The days get longer. The cold is not as deep. Signs of Spring appear. Daffodils, or Easter lillies have been in the shops, and bulb flowers are shooting from the ground too. Vitsippor (a tiny white wildwood windflower which emerges from the ground in early spring) have come. We have spotted the occasional blåsippa (a much rarer blue relative of the same anemone family).
I am emerging, slowly, from my winter lethargy. I have begun to understand Swedish winter depression. It has been an awful winter, not because of the cold, but because the real cold never seemed to come, and the early snowfalls failed to gain hold. Instead we have endured a seemingly eternal autumn: grey and wet and dark. Miserable. We had a few days of snow enough to get the pulkas (sleds) out sometime in the last 4 months, but they dissolved quickly into rain and slush. Even in Orsa on holidays in February we had little snow, though there was at least enough to ski, and we had some lovely days up there.
Then a few weeks ago, as a sort of meteorolgical apology, a late chill hit Örebro, and snow dumped down for a few days, followed by a week of subzero sunshine. A little refreshment before real spring. But now the snow has gone, and we wait eagerly for warmth and leaves and flowers and grass, long since come to southern Europe, but still struggling to find a place here in the frigid north.
Tack och lov… Spring is here!