The first Sunday of advent is ‘skyltsöndag’ when shops display their goods before Christmas. Really it’s just an excuse for people to gather in town for hot dogs, free glögg or coffee. Kiruna was full of people, buzzing with life, clearly a vibrant, active little town. It was a surprise, and it made me feel happy.
It was a surprise because this was the year the old town centre could have felt dead, or at least dying. The mine has now bought all the buildings there that in the future will have to be demolished. Many of the owners have taken the compensation money and moved on. There were more and more empty buildings where there used to be shops. It was becoming a ghost town.
And yet now it has come back to life. The old supermarket is dead, but another company has filled the empty space. Surprising new cafés and restaurants have appeared, and they are full of people.
I guess the mining company did what it could because it just doesn’t look good, a dying town. So they set the rents low, made life easy for new businesses to move in.
One can’t help but feel wildly, inappropriately, outrageously grateful, to the mine – the company that is actually destroying Kiruna. Funny that.