As if the wooden clogs in the closet weren’t enough, there’s a whole list of quirks that make Swedish culture and marrying into it the best thing that could ever happen to you. Commitment to work-life balance? A killer meatball recipe? Sign me up!
1. There’s tubed cheese in the fridge.
Not to worry, it comes in a variety of flavors — fish, weirder fish, and fish eggs.
2. There’s something that kind of looks like a big tube of bologna in the freezer.
Smuggling falukorv past customs has really become an art form.
3. You always have to defend America’s chocolate and candy selections.
Swedes pride themselves on their “real chocolate” and claim they have the best candy in the world. Their pick-it-yourself, fill-your-bag and pay-by-the-weight old school candy stores really breed a sort of loyalty. And Saturday is “candy day” — meaning you can eat a full cake/ice cream style dessert and then pass around a candy bowl until it’s gone. Like the second, more appreciated dessert.
4. Random waitresses in the middle of nowhere Ohio say things to your husband like “I’ve never seen eyes so blue.”
Because she actually hasn’t. Yes, the population’s most common eye color is that perfect.
5. There’s a lot of crap talk towards Americans when referring to how we manage winter weather because snow days don’t exist in Sweden.
“We had a snow day once… when we had 2 meters of snow and the heater broke down and it was negative degrees inside the school and we were still at school for 2 hours before they made that decision. There’s not bad weather, only bad clothes.”
6. You’re always on time, or you’re the reason you’re late.
A party’s not a party unless everyone’s punctual and the token American causes a scene.
7. You ask, “Have you been to this country?” and the answer is typically yes.
Swedes LOVE to travel.
8. You’ve been to a party where 50 pairs of white Converse were taken off politely and lined up at the door.
Thou shall not wear shoes indoors is the Eleventh Commandment. Thou shall conform to comfortable white sneaker trend is the Twelfth.
9. There are snus (tobacco) cans everywhere.
Swedes have figured out the solution to the smoking epidemic. They put little bags of not-as-bad-for-you tobacco (called snus) under their top lip. They build forts out of the half-used and empty snus cans lying in virtually every room of the house.
10. In your wedding pictures, there’s a clear distinction in height of the Swedes vs. the Americans.
Swedes are notoriously tall. I’m assuming it’s the high level of potato consumption. And the best part of discussing height with a Swede is when they directly translate and ask you how long you are instead of how tall. Classic mix-up.
11. The debate between whether it’s a chicken sandwich or a chicken burger occurs about twice a month.
Sorry, but if Chick Fil-a claims ‘sandwich,’ you don’t have an argument. And ‘direct translation’ is not an excuse.
12. Your mom confuses whose jeans are whose when she’s doing laundry around the holidays.
Because tight, tighter, and tailored is flattering, and and anything baggie — suit pants included — is a pure waste of fashion opportunity and fabric.
14. You’ve been introduced to the theory of Lagom.
Never too much, never too little, just enough. It can be used when describing stuff, feelings, the weather, society, and how much wine you had to drink at dinner.
14. You’ve been in a room of 20+ people, 95% of whom are blond.
Natural blonds. There really must be something in the water. Or in the tubed fish cheese.
15. You begin to learn the language and your first favorite words are weird and inappropriate.
Aggkläckningsmaskin (incubator); Visa pattarna (show your boobs).
16. You finally understand the art of following rules.
Follow all the rules, stand in line, find the line to get a number to stand in line, wait your turn, don’t stick out, and use proper cutlery tactics when eating meat and potatoes.
17. There’s a song for everything.
When you drink a beer you sing a song, when you eat crayfish you sing a song, when you take a shot of schnapps you sing a song. Kind of like a nice family saying a prayer before dinner, except the prayer is a song and it isn’t very holy.
18. You end up spending more money in the food section at Ikea than in the furniture section.
Yeah yeah, maybe Ikea meatballs aren’t real meatballs, but they are 110% better than no meatballs. Forgot your liver paste and raw herring? No worries: you can grab it on your way out.
19. Your level of comfort with nudity increases drastically.
Swedes have holidays where they dance naked around a pole. They wear (only) white robes to the water to skinny dip in the freezing cold all year around. They might not talk to each other in the winter but they will swim nude with strangers all year ’round. Oh, and nudist camping is a thing. That whole minimalistic nature takes on whole new meaning.
20. Dinner parties are a new addition to your weekly schedule.
Swedes love a good dinner party either as a standalone gathering or sometimes as a “pregame.” Whether hosting or attending, they love to eat and drink amongst their friends and families. Quite simply, they love to have an honest, good time -— something they happen to be really good at it too.
Except during dark months: From November to March, no one has any fun.