Swedish Winter Activity Verbs Posted by Chelsea B on Jan 29, 2021 in Culture, Swedish Language, Vocabulary
Have you heard the Swedish saying Inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder / there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing? It’s essentially a Swede’s way of saying, “Bundle up, we’re going outside!” Even during the coldest months, Swedes manage to get out and enjoy the natural world. In this blog entry, we’ll cover some common winter verbs, and highlight three activities that are unique to Sweden and the Nordic Countries.
A verb that accompanies many Swedish recreation verbs is åka. This verb works in English as “to go” or “to ride.” Now, I should mention that åka is the verb we use to say “go” by means other than our two feet. “Go skating” for example in Swedish is åka skridskor. There are loads of åka variations for activities but first, let’s look at the different forms of åka:
infinitive: att åka
Vill du och Johanna åka längdskidor med oss nästa helg?
Do you and Johanna want to go cross-country skiing next weekend?
present tense: åker
Förskolebarn åker spark varje dag
Preschoolers go kick-sledding every day.
past perfect: har åkt
Jag har aldrig åkt långfärdsskridskor, men jag vill gärna testa det!
I have never gone Nordic skating, but I really want to try it.
I julas åkte vi skidor i Åre. Det var fint med det var mycket folk.
This Christmas we went skiing in Åre. It was nice but there were lots of people.
imperative/ command form: åk!
Åk inte om bräda utan hjälm!
Don’t go snowboarding without a helmet.
Below is a list of åka verbs. Practice each verb with all the conjugations of åka to help you memorize them!
åka skidor go skiing(downhill)
åka längdskidor go cross-country
(or Nordic) skiing
åka bräda/snowboard go snowboarding
åka snöskoter go snowmobiling
åka skridskor go skating
åka långfärdsskridskor go Nordic skating
Now this one takes a bit of explanation. Långfärdsskridskor are, as the word lång in the name implies, longer in length than typical ice skates. Commonly done once as soon as the lakes are freshly frozen and the ice is still relatively thin, this type of skating is about covering a lot of ground quickly. You use stavar (poles) as you skate so the stride looks a bit like that of cross-country skiing. Here’s a demo on Nyhetsmorgon on TV4.
åka pulka go sledding
åka spark go kick-sledding
This winter activity is quite unique to the Nordic countries. Kick-sleds are commonly used as transportation in the winter. Many folks trade their bicycles for kick-sleds as soon as the snow falls. Oftentimes, sidewalks and roads are not shoveled down to the cement, rather, fine gravel is laid into the snow so the snow becomes packed, but not slick. This creates a hard surface perfect for gliding. Kids take them to school, and people use them to do their errands around town.
Okej, how about some verbs that have nothing to do with åka?
gå med snöskor go snowshoeing
skotta snö shoveling snow
bygga snögubbe/person build a snowperson
bada bastu take a sauna
kallbada cold bathe
…the last two are often paired together. Folks in the Nordic countries love a good sauna and a brisk swim. Some people even dare to take this concept a step further, dunking themselves into freezing cold, icy water. The kallbada concept has gained a bit of speed in recent years. There is a website called kallbad.nu that serves cold bathing enthusiasts. You can learn the benefits of cold bathing, find listings of local groups and kallbada-friendly locations around Sweden. Svinkallt! (This translates literally to “swine cold,” but means VERY cold!)
What winter activities do you enjoy? Has anyone done a kallbad this year? Share in the comments below!
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