Crash course in Swedishness

Equality, sustainable and lagom

Prepare yourself for impressive nature, light nights and a friendly atmosphere, and learn how to “fika”. When you’re in Sweden, it might be a good idea to learn a bit about the country and its people. 

Here’s a crash course in Swedishness

Be prepared to be impressed by Swedish nature that is magnificent, untouched and accessible for everyone. Yes, you read that correctly! Open to everyone. The Swedish Right of Public Access is totally unique and gives all people the chance to get out into nature. So take the chance!

Swedes love outdoor life and nature and when you meet them in the forest or on the trail, expect them to be friendly but reserved. There’s nothing wrong with small talk, it’s just that Swedes are no good at its and when Swedes have nothing to talk about, they’ll talk about the weather. Swedes can be helpful, but not particularly forthcoming. In central and northern Sweden summer nights are long and light. The locals here are known to be both calm, trustworthy and a little shy. They love spending time together around an open campfire – grilling sausages is a typical Swedish pastime which is carried out all year round. This can also be done indoors; many Swedes have open fireplaces inside their homes.

Swedes are known for their innovative design, fashion and music. Most of them love to watch “mello”, the competition that determines who will represent Sweden in the European Song Contest. This is treated more or less as a festival for the entire month of February. We are very proud of our world-famous music artists such as Abba, Avicii, Roxette, Europe and Björn Skifs. A less well-known artist is Tomas Ledin, a singer with roots in the High Coast and songs about the World Heritage Site. Swedes love their holidays and festivals. And nothing can get in the way of their traditions. Such as the “Crayfish Premier” in August where they sing songs and feast on crayfish whilst wearing colourful hats and drinking schnapps. Celebrating Lucia in December is important – the season needs light, joy, goodness and music. Midsummer represents the start of summer and is celebrated with a traditional smorgasbord where pickled herring plays a central role. Take the opportunity to dance around the Maypole, it is a key feature of Swedish culture. Some Swedes like to dress up in traditional folk costumes that are the same colour as the Swedish flag.

Learn the word “hen” which means both he and she. That “hen” has become fully accepted says a lot about Sweden being one of the most gender-equal countries in the world. Swedes are proud of how far they have come on this front, and many men and women try hard to share the responsibilities of home. Swedish dads are among the best in the world for taking paternity leave.

Swedes like the environment, sustainability and recycling. They sort their recyclables and hate throwing food away. Shopping for second-hand clothes and furniture is seen as modern and positive. In the summer, thousands of flea markets are held and this is seen by Swedes as a bit of a national symbol. Living in the High Coast, you will have many chances to find a treasure or two among someone else’s off-casts. Dare to test fermented Baltic herring! It is northern Sweden’s national dish and really is delicious if it is served with the right accompaniments. Don’t let the smell put you off, it tastes great!

Make sure you also discover Swedish “fika”

You won’t have to spend much time in Sweden before you come across the concept “fika”. Swedes love to fika – and drink nine (!) kilos of coffee per person each year. And they love a bit of baking with their coffee – the combination of the two makes up the concept of “fika”. A typical cake in Sweden is the Princess Cake, look for the large round green cake in every bakery you pass. But don’t be surprised if you meet someone for a “fika” and there is no coffee or cake involved, “fika” can also mean just spending time together and having a chat. Check out the hashtag #swedishfika on instagram to get a feel for the phenomenon.    

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