Why do Swedish Doors Open Outwards and other Mysteries about Sweden

“Why do Swedish doors open outwards?”

“Why is the Swedish flag blue and yellow?”

“Why do Swedish men give the look?”

“Why can’t Sweden make a decent loaf of bread?”

“Does Kalles Kaviar break Geneva convention rules?”

Thanks to Dano for the inspiration, we need a thread not related to Swedish dating or why cigarette butts are not thrown away. And damnit, we need the answer to life’s mystery: what’s with the small frogs at midsummer?

Post your question and myself or another equally brilliant Swedo, Americano, Britso, Italiano will have an insightful answer. Or multiple answers.

And yes, I am still wondering why there are no real good bakeries in Stockholm. Where can I buy a pain au chocolat?!

33 thoughts on “Why do Swedish Doors Open Outwards and other Mysteries about Sweden”

  1. Why is salary only once a month? :(

    It sucks only getting paid 12 times a year versus 24 or 26 times a year (Bi-monthly/Bi-weekly).

  2. Well, why the flag is blue and yellow has a few different theories. Check out Swedish Flag on wikipedia. I believe it’s because the national symbols are the three crowns on a blue backdrop. That symbol comes from Magnus IV of Sweden and the house of Folkung in the 14th century.

    Anyway, I agree with Andrew. Bi-weekly would be awesome.

    And Kalles Kaviar is the best hangover cure. Salt is really good the day after.

  3. I would like salary twice a month too. Have never had Kalles Kaviar when I had a hangover, fish egg saltiness makes me a little more sick.

    But ohhh, where are the corner bakeries in Stockholm?!

  4. There are lots of small bakeries in Söder, but haven’t tried them out. Trying to be good and cut back on excess calories.

  5. If the doors open outwards you get more room in the hallway of course. Back in the days when the apartments were really small you couldn’t have a door taking up half the apartment.

    I’m pretty intrested in how a “decent loaf of bread” is concidered from american standards? When I was there everyone just ate white supersized bread with peanutbutter. After awhile on that diet you will look supersize yourself :)

  6. Erik – That’s because you’re thinking of standard grocery store packaged bread. Like the packaged bread in Sweden is better than the ones in the US, the quality of the “fresh loaves” of bread is garbage. The bread is usually hard, tasteless, and overpriced.

  7. Yay! I inspired a questions thread.Now can’t think of anything to say lol!
    The door opening thing puzzles me,especially for wheelchair occupants etc,although many places do have a auto button to push.
    Bread? We all get used to our own tastes i guess and when confronted with another country’s tastes we become suspicious and depressed.I forget the names offhand,but i’ve found Italian and greek uncut loaves at ICA,which i suspect have nothing to do with Italy or Greece,but taste ok. :)

    How come i can drive 600kms to Sala,and back,numerous times,and NEVER see a police car?
    Why do you only ever see them..usually in convoy…on sunny days on the way to set up a speed trap?
    Why do i never see a cop walking about “on patrol”?
    Why do police stations open at 10am and close at 4pm?
    (This may not apply to Stockholm sorry..but i don’t live there!)

  8. Why hasn’t the population of Sweden revolted against the idea of the Systembolaget?!?!

    Mon – Fri: 10-19
    Sat: 10-15
    Sun: Closed

    Horrible hours, horrible monopoly, horrible price jacking… It’s insane and pure propaganda!

    You can’t tell me it costs 3x more to ship 1L of Absolut Vodka (which is produced in Sweden) to Stockholm, Sweden than Dubrovnik, Croatia! I bough 1L there for 10€.. here it’s 295SEK (29.50€) for 700mL.

  9. Andrew. Because Swedes are incapable of controlling themselves if alcohol was freely available. It would be like if we let all the polar bears run wild on the streets.

  10. About the Swedish flag…the colors are quite cheerful and have an almost youthful quality. One theory I think is that the colors are suppose to evoke childhood memories where the sun was more vibrant and the sky bluer. I think the colors are a nice change to the chilly weather and typical shy demeanor.

    Hmmm, why the Swedish look, eh? So they don’t have to talk? Although in my experience even when I did take the initiative, he wasn’t very receptive. Hard to read in my opinion.

    I have a few questions of my own :) I’m pretty sure I got the so-called Swedish “look,” but I struggled to make eye contact with him on most occasions. Hardly any face-to-face talking or encounter, mostly side by side even though I tried. Is that typical, or was I being given the cold shoulder? What about showing up a few minutes early?

  11. @Sapphire: We still have a state run monopoly on alcohol because we got a left wing lobby group the same size of the fast food lobby groups in the US. They are impossible to fight, it’s like they draw their energy from hell itself! Plus I guess people are in the “whatever” mode now, too tired to fight about it, you just complain about it over a glass of red wine and then go back to liking it because you wanna fit in with all the other pc swedes.

    @Andrew: That data is old, just this year the alcohol consumption increased by something like 60%, it’s insane!

  12. @Sapphire – err hello I think I asked the door question on another thread. Dano has stolen my thunder, sob sob (am wondering if that’s his new superpower – thread idea claimer stealer). What about a thread about Wallander – am huge fan of the Swedish TV series!

    @Dano – I saw some police tearing down fly posters from a bus shelter in Soder when I was there – high level poilcing or what!

    @Erik – well the doors in the Uk all open inwards and I bet we’ve got some poky small flats (what a thing to boast about!)

    What the flip is Kalles Kaviar – is it just kaviar – am I being dim?? I am a veggie + have never eaten seafood in my defence

  13. @All – If I remember it was Princess that asked the question a while ago on the other thread. I’m going to update that.

    @Erik – LOL . God damn commis!

  14. Just wondering what Swedish people like to receive as host/hostess gifts? Or is it just wine?
    Is there anything from Canada that a Swedish person would like? Andrew? ideas? Do they like thank you cards as well? Thanks in advance!

  15. @ Juni – Shania Twain would work nice! I’ll host a party specially for that gift. :D
    “thank you,merry xmas,happy birthday,sorry you’re dead” cards seem to be illegal in Sweden.

    @Princess – Whoa there girlie! I didn’t steal nuffink mrs,honest!
    I just mentioned that we need a “questions” thread..Sapphire chooses the titles. lol.

    I remember reading about the Swedish flag in “Arn” the swedish crusader knight etc.Unfortunately that’s ALL i remember! meh.
    If “Arn” is historically correct? then the blue background is taken from the “Folklung” (or whatever his family’s called)mantel colour.
    Can’t remember about the yellow but it’s a cross so will be religion based.
    The 3 crowns is a tribute to a very popular strip club in Götland…or was that another book? :)

  16. @Eric – Do you have a link that shows that alcohol consumption has increased 60%? Is it 60% from 2003? Over the last year? Over the last 10 years?

    @Juni – Gifts… Hmmm. Anything “Canada” would go well. Maple Syrup. Fish is big here, so if you’re able to get pacific smoked salmon, it would be a good gift. Depends on for whom though. I brought back those red olympic mittens for a friend here. Cards do happen here, just not often. I got one for my b-day! :) I think a card with a personal message inside would be nice.

  17. Hi!
    I think I got the answer to the door question. It is due to fire regulations. All emergency exits have to be able open outwards along the escape route and all front doors are seen as emergency exits.
    I hope you understand what I tired to explain. :)

  18. @Jonas that sounds about right :) leave it to the Swedes to be so conscientious even about their doors, good for them.

  19. I think they’re more of a fire hazard than a help! Those of us conditioned to open doors inwards could burn to death in a panic situation! :)

  20. @sapphire – yes it was me, I thank you…

    Ah vindication + recognition – wot with this + being aired on The World Service this weekend it seems that I’m well on way to being global star, phew, get me.

    @Jonas – well have considered your explanation, but hell, us Brits are hot on the old H&S so I think the more likely reason is (hope this don’t offend) is that you pampered Swedes even need help with doors, so the government made it simple. Get the handle then push. Us sophis Brits, ahem, can cope with the more demanding task of getting handle + then pulling – I think you’ll find that’s why we had an Empire (then lost it presumably because all the brain power was spent opening lots of doors – they can be v tricky suckers y’know)

  21. Jonas – That’s a fire hazard regulation in the US. Door that open outside (literally outside the building) need to open out for fire safety reason. Interior doors, like those in apartment buildings, open inside.

    I guess this is just something funny the Swedes do.

    Oh, and the Swedish open out doors are just as susceptible to burglary as any other. An office in our building had the area near the keyhole pulled off with a crowbar. Easy way to open a door then.

  22. @ Princess – Non taken.

    @ Sapphire –
    I think it’s strange they agree that the outer door needs too be open outwards when the inner doors that you need to pass during an escape are open inwards.

    I’ve read that the police and fire department want the door to open inwards because it is easier to break in during an emergency.
    I am not sure if it’s true, but it would explain the first part.

  23. I’ve also heard that the reason to why doors open outwards is that it’s impossible to open a door the goes inwards if there is an emergency and there’s people pushing you towards the door.

    Emergency and a crowd that is pushing you towards the door (which likely will happen if there’s a fire) = You can’t open the door.

    I’d like to see the situation where you say “Ok, lads, please take a step back. Yes, I know that you are panicking, but please take a step back so that we can open the door”. Hmm.. wouldn’t work.

  24. Huh…American residential doors DO swing inwards (checking my own). I never noticed. But then again, I never noticed Japanese residential doors swung outwards until now that I think about it. I guess I never found it that important.

    As for the Swedish customer service issue, I’ll take it over ten different employees at the same American department store asking me if they can help me, and reminding me that sweaters are buy one, get one for $20. For the love of god, I know. Just let me look at things in peace!

  25. Is their poor customer service something to do with the fact that if they acknowledge others then they might find out we’re better than them??! (If Ben is reading that then that was genuine sarcasm).

    I didn’t think service was that bad. In fact the waitress in one restaurant was v kind about recommendations and answered by questions about how to pronounce Swedish words. But was in one of those eat loads veggie buffet places and the guy ignored us pretty comprehensively. My friend got into a bit of a huff.

  26. The doors opening outward at the airport bathroom is really useful when you need to bring your suitcase in the stall with you. Trying to get your suitcase in the bathroom stall when the door opens inward is very tricky!

  27. Mmmmmm.. dumb Australian still puzzled about the door issue when I open my girlfriends front door and the neighbour also does the doors can get tangled up thus blocking one of us in so how does this help with emergency situations? Also it must be harder for police/ambulance officers to force entry into a door that opens outwards. The third consideration is you can’t see what is outside the door and people can block your door by placing things in front of it…

  28. My big issue is what is the deal with a personal number. If you move here on a working holiday visa it’s a prick to get but it is needed for everything in sweden i.e. opening a bank account etc

  29. I would like to comment on drinking in Sweden. We were in southern Sweden last summer and I was aware that the waiters did not hurry to the table to take our drink order (as in the USA) & there was no rush to bring the drinks either. Also, every time I ordered a glass of wine I was also given a glass of water. I think these are ways to control the drinking of alcohol and slow down the effects of drinking & I really thought it was a good idea.

  30. I think it was just laziness! Also a lot of the time the water is there because it has more taste than the wine!! :)

  31. Replying to old thread, but… one of the reasons I’ve heard about our doors (residential included) opening outwards is this: If the door opens inwards, during an emergency, your passed out body could be the thing blocking the door preventing emergency personel from reaching you.

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