Thanks, SAM, for inviting me to guest blog! I’m a Swedish mom myself and also work hard to keep our Swedish heritage alive in my children. Scandinavian products help so I’m glad to have found your blog!
Another tricky thing is to keep some of the Swedish mindset and attitudes alive. And they can be surprisingly different , for example when it comes to being outdoors or safety.
No matter where in the Scandinavians countries you happen to be, midsummer means long nights that never get really dark. Where there is no midnight sun, dusk blurs into dawn without night in between. This is the time of year that many Scandinavians long for all winter and their love for summer and nature is deeply embedded in the culture. While Americans celebrate the end of the hot summer and a successful harvest with Thanksgiving, Scandinavians celebrate the arrival of spring and new life with music and dances. There are numerous Swedish songs about nature, and most of them are about spring and summer. The hymn “Den blomstertid nu kommer” celebrates the return of the “flower season” and is sung at most last-day-of-school celebrations in early June. Maja’s Alphabet songs, popular with schools and children’s choirs, are all about different plants found in nature. This one is about an ash tree and this one is about poppies.
|Stroller walk with my three little tykes. Sturdy wheels are standard on Swedish strollers-how else would you get through the snow drifts?|
However, if you think Scandinavians stay inside during the cold and dark half of the year, you have deeply miscalculated their love for the outdoors. My oldest child started daycare in March, a time when there is nothing but wet snow and mud in the Stockholm area. With water proof boots, good snow suits plus vinyl overalls, the kids had a blast in the muddy yard. “There is no bad weather, just bad gear” is a phrase and an attitude that every Swede grows up with. There is a lot of truth in an article about polar bear moms, but I’m not sure we are quite that ambitious every day…
In addition to their love for nature, Scandinavians are well known for their creative design. Combine that with the Swedish passion for traffic safety (just think “Volvo”) and you end up with fun colorful reflectors that make you visible to drivers when it is dark. However, the reflectors haven’t always been colorful or fun.
|My mom wearing a hard reflector.|
When I went to school in the 70′s and 80′s, we all had reflectors. Recently, someone told me that insurance companies handed them out. Reflectors are cheap life savers, so that makes a lot of sense! Those we had were made from hard, clear plastic and came with a string and a safety pin. We pinned them inside our jacket pockets and while out in the dark, they were dangling at knee height to notify drivers about our presence. The strings easily got tangled up with keys left in the pocket and the reflectors made an annoying clanking sound whenever they swung into other things around you. In the late 90′s, 3M launched a patented reflective vinyl foil, that could be turned into colorful, lightweight soft reflectors. All of a sudden, people started to wear reflectors because they looked cool! No longer did they need to be hidden in pockets during day time, so the string was replaced with a short ball chain. A recent poll among Swedes shows that about 90% of kids and 50% of parents wear reflectors. About 30% of the Finns wear them as well. That prevents many nighttime pedestrian accidents!
In America, the concept of hanging reflectors on your jacket, backpack, purse, briefcase, stroller, wheelchair or dog is little known. At Halloween (the biggest danger for kids that night is getting hit by a car), reflective tape is frequently recommended, but how cool is that? So after moving to the US with my three grade school kids, I set out to launch a line of fun reflectors for the North American market under the trademark funflector®. To make it fun and cool to be safe all year around, we work with Swedish designers living in the US, to get the best from both worlds. Enjoy the picture gallery and stay safe!