It’s appropriate really, that in a part of the world where winter dominates, there are six seasons, rather than four.

In the Nordic countries, in particular in the north of Sweden, the cycle of seasons includes ‘vintervår’ and ‘höstvinter’ – ‘winterspring’ and ‘autumnwinter’. Both are times of transition and in some ways, states of mind.

In a climate in which snowfall has been known to come as late as May, ‘Spring’ isn’t enough on its own. Winterspring, therefore, defines those days when you desperately want to pack away the winter layers but know, deep down, you’re not quite finished with them yet. It’s when your body and mind long for the sun on your skin but the weather gods just won’t allow it. It can be beautiful- long, sunny but icy days. Winterspring teases you into believing you’re almost there. It’s the season of impatience but also of anticipation.

Such is our Nordic longing for spring that when it finally comes, people are acutely aware of what the Swedes poetically call ‘vårkänslor’ or ‘spring feeling’ - it’s a more sensual form of ‘spring fever’. It’s the increase in mental alertness and physical energy, a surge in vitality.

The Nordic summer may boast endless days, but the season is cruelly short. It’s has to be maximised and enjoyed, which is why many in the north prefer to stay at home for the summer holidays. By the time schoolchildren return to their lessons as August begins, summer is already fast disappearing.

Because it’s so hard to pinpont when autumn ends and winter begins, we have the need for ‘höstvinter’, another transition, but one which is laced with forboding of the long winter to come. But ‘höstvinter’ also carries a nuance of hope. It’s in the way that months of autumn winter are saved by Christmas preparations. In this part of the world, dominated by long, black nights, flickering candles and cozy gatherings are what get us through.

Words by Christina Marker
Photographs by Anne Mortensen and Clara Reeh