In Swedish Lapland, nature plays an intrinsic role in our life and work, and the people here are highly sensitive to the small details of the changing seasons. Therefore, it seems only natural that the Sami people describe eight seasons instead of four.
We live in close proximity to nature in Swedish Lapland, and it’s not unusual for the region to be referred to as Northern Europe’s last remaining wilderness. Yet for those of us who live and work here, the natural landscape is anything but wild. This is our cultural heritage and the place we spend our everyday lives and free time, as so many of us rely on nature to make a living.
While moving their reindeer from winter to summer pastures, the Sami people are keenly attentive to the variations of the seasons and climate. Although the majority of Sami people are more or less permanently settled nowadays, they are no less dependent on the seasons and climate for that. This unique expertise is vital in a region where there is a major contrast between summer and winter, for example, with temperatures varying by as much as 70 degrees.
So what are these eight seasons? Well, let me explain. I’ll begin with one of my favourites: spring winter. Truth be told, this is the season most of us in Swedish Lapland hold in the highest esteem.
Spring-winter – finally the sun takes hold
Sping-winter – gidádálvve in Sami – falls during March/April and brings both heat and light after several months of harsh winter weather. It’s an amazing sensation to finally greet the powerful rays of warm sunlight against your winter-worn face as freckles begin to break out, and listen to the dripping of the eaves and the chirp of the birds, preferably in unison.
This is the season for intrepid snowmobile expeditions over the sea ice, on mountain terrain or across woodland, or fantastic ski-tours with your jacket unfastened and a generous layer of sun cream on your face.
Spring winter. Truth be told, this is the season most of us in Swedish Lapland hold in the highest esteem.
To really get into the spirit, build a sofa out of the snow, roll out a reindeer hide, light a fire and barbecue some sausages. For the Sami reindeer herdsman, the late winter is a busy period, as the reindeer herds are transported from the winter pastures in the woodland or coastal areas up to the high ground. Here, it’s easier to keep an eye on the herd and ensure the expectant females are left in peace and quiet ahead of the calving period.
Winter loosens its grip – spring is here
The late winter gives way to the spring season, spanning both April and May. In Lule Sami, this period is known as gidá. At this time, the ice starts to melt in the southern part of Swedish Lapland, and the clean, crystal-clear waters begin to ripple and flow.
May sees the deciduous trees break out into luscious greens and the early spring flowers begin to blossom.
Up in the mountain terrain the nights remain cold, but daytime temperatures are pleasant, with conditions perfect for snowmobiling or skiing outings. Spring sees the birth of the year’s reindeer calves, as they take their first unsteady steps under the watchful eye of the proud females.