In Sweden, you can definitely tell when Christmas time is near, or practically here. Obviously, the Swedes don't celebrate Thanksgiving, so there is nothing really keeping them from decorating between now and Christmas. As I've gone around town the past week I've noticed more and more public decorations going up. The street lamps have these lit up shooting stars coming off of them.
Below is the Julbock (Yule Goat in English) that I discovered in the middle of a square downtown while out walking yesterday.
The Swedes traditionally put these up in any sizable town. The Julbock is an old Scandinavian tradition for Jul, or Yule in English, which used to be a pagan holiday and now has been Christianized into Christmas. They still call it Jul, though.
All the stores have all their decorations out, and for the first time since I can ever remember I'm not bothered by it. Why? Like I said, here they don't have Thanksgiving, so it doesn't feel like they're cheating! I still hope to celebrate Thanksgiving next week, and even bought a turkey at the store last night (I was surprised to come across a section of them, I thought they would be difficult to find!). But since I know the Swedes don't have a big holiday like Thanksgiving in between Halloween and Christmas, I'm not bothered like back in the States when people start in on Christmas in November. It's actually quite nice to not be bothered by it, and not feel like I'm cheating to already be getting into the Christmas spirit.
Yesterday, J told me, was the start of "stad i ljus" (said like stod ee yoos) here in Skövde. The town puts up all sorts of light displays to be seen in the dark. If you go to this link you can see a slide show of my town at night and the lights that they've put up. If you click on the "Promenadslinga" link below the slide show you can even see a .pdf map of how you can walk through the town to see the different displays. The picture of the Julbock above is at number 2.
Here is another random picture of a neat building in the park across the street.
Looks wintry around here, hmm? I'm adjusting to the grey, cold, and darkness. I read somewhere we've been losing 6 minutes of daylight every day. That means that since I arrived here in the beginning of the month, we have lost 102 minutes of daylight. That's nearly 2 hours!
It's begun to flurry and snow a bit again today. It's supposed to snow all weekend too, and the high won't even get up to freezing. Hello winter!