Swedish Language Blog

Blueberry Forecast 2008 Posted by on Jul 23, 2008 in Culture, Vocabulary

Come July and August Swedes change, and quite visibly even. One look at their hands and fingers and you begin to seriously ponder whether or not you are among madmen. Why? Their fingers are red and purple. Sometimes, their mouths are too.

Yes, it’s blueberry season! Actually, no. Wait! Technically, it’s “bilberry” in English, Vaccinium myrtillus in Latin, and simply “blåbär” in Swedish. What you guys know as a “blueberry” in the US is in fact Vaccinium cyanococcus, a not-so-distant cousin of the European variety.

Bilberry, blueberry, whatever the name, it’s time to go into the woods and do some serious picking. And then proudly, yet casually at the same time, display your stained fingers the day after. Those purple fingers are like a badge of honor, or a different way to show your national pride. It’s the “I went into the woods, braved being eaten alive by mosquitoes, risked dangerous encounters with wild animals, and all for the love of a small blue fruit” way of showing just how Swedish you truly are.

And this whole blueberry picking thing is a serious business indeed. Just how serious? The very famous and prestigious Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) does scientific research into the matter and publishes a yearly blueberry forecast map. And for the geographically challenged they even prepare the info in a diagram format. Sweet!

Here’s a link to the SLU page with the blueberry lowdown in Swedish.

So, how does the forecast look for the region of Norrland in 2008? Superb! It’s supposed to be the best blueberry-picking season ever. Personally, I can’t wait. I was slightly panicking two days ago, as it was raining and raining and I had the image of soaked and ruined blueberry bushes etched in my brain. But today the weather has improved, it’s nice and sunny, well, nice for Norrland anyway, and I’m looking forward to being eaten alive by mosquitoes in the woods. All in the pursuit of tiny, blue fruits.

So now let’s say it in Swedish:

  • blåbär (def. blåbäret, plural: blåbär, plural def: blåbären) = European blueberry; and now in Swedish – ett blått bär som växter i skogen – a blue berry which grows in the woods (forest)

And here it’s also worth mentioning that the word “blåbär” has another meaning, too. If you hear a person being described as a “blåbär” it means that he/she is a beginner, newbie, greenie, or nybörjare in Swedish.

So if you’ve never picked “blåbär” in Sweden, I could say that you’re a “blåbär” at picking “blåbär”.

Image: SLU

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  1. ceci:

    great! useful! funny!
    thank you so much, ceci

  2. Anna:

    hej ceci!
    Glad you’re enjoying the blog. And Lycksele, huh? I strongly suggest you start studying for your Swedish drivers license then. 😉
    And I may have to write a post about Lycksele…

  3. Mary Ann Tutka:

    Thanks so much for your information & the time it takes to do these things. I am a nurse married to a Swede for 4 yrs. & we plan to retire to Sweden, so I have a LOT to learn yet. Tack sa mycket!!!!

  4. ceci:

    oh well!! i am expecting for your point of view about Lycksele…thank you thank you again!!! i really have a nice time while reading your blog! by anna

  5. Ölänning:

    We do love our blueberries! I mean bilberries..