After months of darkness, cold and snow, as the hours of daylight increase and the temperature starts to rise all across Sweden people start to hunt for Vårtecken, or “signs of spring”.
This isn’t just a one person “springwatch” posting photos on social media of the first Vittsippa (wood anemone) or Tussilago (coltsfoot) of the year, but a nationwide phenomenon that spreads like a wildfire across the country. As everyone starts to get Vårkänslor (spring fever), sections start to appear in many newspapers featuring the “signs of spring” sent in by the public. There are even websites dedicated to Vårtecken where people can post pictures or make a link on maps to show exactly where they spotted their sign and what it was (e.g. March 29: A flock of chaffinches spotted in Indal!) and social media is filled with posts about #Vårtecken.
One of the most famous Vårtecken is the cranes returning to Lake Hornborga, in the south west of Sweden, after a winter spent in warmer climes. Every year people come from far and wide to see the thousands of cranes dancing and calling on the lake shore.
Not all signs of spring are plant or bird-related though – a sign of spring can be anything from buying your first ice cream of the season (or spotting your first ice cream van for those not brave enough to actually eat one yet!) to going outside without your winter coat on. In the towns and cities across Sweden almost overnight everyone starts to sit outside cafes and bars for lunch and in the evenings (although at night many people are sat out wrapped up in the blankets provided as standard by most establishments!). Parks all over start to fill on sunny days with people enjoying the warmer weather and having picnics.
After a long winter it is no wonder people start to look forward to spring, meaning longer days and (usually) warmer temperatures. And with the coming of spring it means only one thing – Eurovision is on the way!