Photo: Rasmus Holmboe Dahl/Shutterstock

10 Things Us Swedes Always Have to Explain to Out-of-Towners

by Madelaine Triebe Jun 19, 2016

1. We think paying taxes is sexy.

It’s pretty hot receiving free contraceptives up until the age of 26, health care, education and school lunches (although Fredrik Reinfeldt and his government messed with the welfare system between 2006-2014). When we have a free school lunch served to us everyday with all five components from kostcirkeln, not having to nibble on soggy chicken nuggets and sandwiches on white bread, we think we are pretty lucky.

2. We’re not all blonde.

Not all of our 9.5 million inhabitants have the same hair colour as Alexander Skarsgård and Victoria Silvstedt. Yes, you might notice a higher rate of blonde people in Sweden, but just like the majority of countries in the world, we are made up of a diverse gene pool. We’re putting our faith into Alicia Vikander to change the outdated perception of all Swedes being blonde with blue eyes.

3. Systembolaget and its restricted opening hours is a normal thing in a market driven economy.

It’s completely normal to wake up on a Saturday and plan the day according to the opening hours of Systembolaget. It’s impossible to buy alcohol legally after 3pm on a Saturday, so whenever we want to secure our fylla on the weekend we make sure to plan our day accordingly. Also Systembolaget really isn’t like other companies. They don’t even encourage merförsäljning (additional sale)

4. Midsummer is the most important holiday of the year.

Around the 24th of June every year something much bigger than buying Christmas trees and stressing over gifts happens — the annual midsummer party where we dance around a pole and wear flower wreaths in our hair. You just have to rock up in a dress or shirt and jeans with a lots of booze in your purple plastic bag from Systembolaget and you’re all set.

5. Allemannsrätten is much better than IKEA and ABBA combined.

Yes, cheap furniture and catchy music is some of our trademarks, but being able to access land, hike and camp almost everywhere you want and not being confined to national parks in order to enjoy the outdoors is so much better. Ingvar Kamprad du kan slänga dig och din Billy-bokhylla i väggen.

6. Just because we are reserved doesn’t mean we don’t like you.

Small talk and big smiles don’t mean people like you. Once you have understood this, you get that Swedes word economy and lack of over-enthusiasm when we meet and greet you is just another way of saying we love you.

7. Anything above 20 degrees means summer.

We have long winters and dark nights, so cut us some slack when we sit in parks and shiver over engångsgrillar from Ica and black klotgrillar although it’s 15 degrees on a summer night in June. At least we appreciate our summers.

8. Crayfish is delicious.

Bright red shellfish with claws boiled in dill is such a tasty ordeal we need to turn it into a yearly August tradition. They’re pretty much like lobster, but smaller and more savoury.

9. You may have been to Stockholm, but that doesn’t mean you know anything about Sweden.

You still haven’t set your foot on any of the 242,735 square kilometres that make up Norrland, you haven’t met and learned about our indigenous population the Samis, sun bathed on Falsterbo beach in Skåne, eaten a falafel at Sara on Bergsgatan in Malmö, patted a Gotlandsruss on Gotland or swam in the cold waters of Vättern.

10. Handball is a real sport.

It’s like soccer but you play with your hands.

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