Random Swedish Things I Cannot Live Without

Sometimes I’m amazed at how Swedish I have become. I love the wintertime and snowfall and the darkness doesn’t bother me that much. Laundry bookings prevent a run on the washing machines Saturday morning, and the despicable Systembolaget is clean and full of helpful information when buying wine.

There are some Swedish things I cannot live without. Perhaps I have truly lost my mind.

Kalle Anka önskar God Jul
kalle anka donald duck christmas
Finally, a country that loves Donald Duck more than Mickey Mouse. Plus, you have to be drinking glögg and eating pepparkakor.


Inga Skor
No shoes in the house. Seriously, why would you wear shoes in the house? After steeping on concrete, rain, asphalt, shit, used papers, grass, stones, Americans will go home happily and put those nasty shoes on the couch. And you look at Europeans for double-dipping the salsa with disgust.


A special time, and it doesn’t matter what time, for coffee and sweets.


Known as “everyman’s right,” allemansrätten provides Swedes the ability to experience nature and the outdoors without restrictions. The main covenant of allemansrätten is “do not disturb, do not destroy.”

This allows you to camp on public and private lands (not restricted lands) for up to two nights without permission. When you leave, there should be no evidence that you stayed.

You also have the right to pick berries, mushrooms (not black truffles, they grow underground), and flowers for yourself.

It’s a wonderful right that promotes being neighborly, respecting the outdoors, and learning about nature.


A soft bread bun filled with soft almond paste and delicious whipped cream. Who wouldn’t like it?


swedish matches solsticken
Gustaf Erik Pasch used a non-toxic red phosphorus in 1844 compared to the existing yellow phosphorus used to light the match. No idea why Solsticken’s baby logo looks just like the Water Babies’ sunblock baby.

No wonder Swedes love candles!


25 Days of Vacation
As a full time employee, 25 days is the minimum under Swedish law. Swedish law also states you have the right to take 4 weeks off in July. I never have, but I split 2-3 vacations throughout the year.

This makes me want to be a more productive employee – relaxed, refreshed, and happy to not fight for vacation days.


I hate you, but I still need you.


the world's largest cheese slicer
The most amazing thing since sliced bread, sliceable cheese!

photo by Rauenstein, Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved.


Skatteverket DIY Taxes
Doing taxes has never been easier and in a way, more fun! Skatteverket, the Swedish Tax Authority, sends you a massive yellow colored, 4-paged glued tax document with your earnings and taxes and then tells you if you need to pay or if you get taxes.

If you have deductibles, they’re so easy to fill out, you’ll beg the IRS to do the same.

Oh, and you can snail max, text message, phone call, or online submit your taxes. Winning!


Wafflar, Kanelbullar, Lussekatter
Basically all sweets are delicious in Sweden. Even those super marzipan, sugary tartlets. The exceptions to the rule are licorice ice cream and salty licorice. But then again, there are days I have licorice ice cream.

I am sure I will come up with more…

20 thoughts on “Random Swedish Things I Cannot Live Without”

  1. Can’t wait for my first semla of the year. The cafes and bakeries should already have them, right? They usually turn up pretty early in the year. Yum!

  2. I also miss the by-the-pound goodies. Always tasty and ready to go (and won’t destroy your teeth afterwards).

  3. @Astrid-Ingrid tack!

    @Tinna – Yup, semlor are out and about at the bakeries! Can’t wait to have one!

    @Tainá – I forgot about the lösviksgodis! Love the super sour ones.

    @Megalagom – Thanks for your blog. I will add it to the blogroll. Do add mine to your link list. :-)

  4. Thank you! I certainly will! I’ll be putting up a list this week! By the way, I was impressed and suprised to see your blog listed in a “CultureShock! Sweden” book I have! It was the strangest coincidence, a friend sent me your link and the next day I saw the name in my book! Congrats on that mention!

  5. Omg, no way! I had no idea. Can you take a photo of it? Lame, but really cool.

    World is a small place. =)

  6. I need to try the semlor. I am already in love with the Osthyvel. I told the man that if one goes missing at home, I am likely to be the culprit :-D.

    You know it already but I will say it again: I love your blog!

    I will have a look at work if we have the ‘CultureShock! Sweden!’. If we do, I will check it out and get a picture of it.

  7. Oh my gosh! I just made a whole post, photos, links, etc. and then I noticed that I was wrong. So embarrassed and sorry! Its LostinSweden that is mentioned! I was so excited that I didn’t even realize the difference when I first read it! Should have been you! lol Doh. Sorry :/

  8. So good to be reminded of the good things about life in this crazy country! When it is dark and cold and the people are about as cold as the weather and stores aren’t open who you want them to be and a whole heck of other insane annoying things, you can always take a breath and… Remember semlor!!

  9. @Estelliane – You HAVE to eat a semlor. If you like whipped cream, soft bread with cardamom and almost paste, this is your heaven. You even get blueberry instead of almond paste at some bakeries. Husband says it’s sacrilegious.

    @Megalagom – Oh no!!! We’ll have to petition to add my blog to their list!

    @Ohiogirl – Yes! That’s exactly why I wrote it. Get so frustrated with Stockholm people. If you just took the people out of this city… ;-)

  10. I eat my semlor in a way that is called “hetvägg” :) not at cafes but at home. My boyfriend thinks that it’s nasty :)

  11. The cheese slicer is not a Swedish invention. It was invented by Thor Bjørklund, a Norwegian, in 1925. Mass production started 1927.

  12. @Stian – True but the Swedes are obsessed with it; as evidenced by world’s largest osthyvel in Västerbottens län.

    Plus, if I said I love the Norwegians more, it would make the Swedes very sad. ;-)

  13. Wow! So, I check your blog everyday and I know it is popular but I was very surprised to see that commenting on this particular post has referred 30 viewers to my page today alone (And a total of 110) When I checked the stats I said “Oh, she must have put me on blogroll, cool!” but its from a 17 day old post lol! How odd – Thought you’d like to know that people do actually read old posts! I’m wondering if the numbers are even right- seems crazy!

  14. As a swede currently living in California for the last six years I really related and loved your post. Found it in /r/Sweden

    I do however miss a lot of the Swedish everyday luxuries, a lot of the ones you mentioned, but buying alcohol at the pharmacy, gas station, super market etc. is still better than dealing with Systembolaget And their closing times (: but I think I would honestly trade that in for the Swedish vacation laws any day. I worked several years without any vacation (wth?)

    Thanks for the post, I really liked it!

  15. @Megalagom – That’s so cool! Are you using analytics or statcounter to check? They’re both quite for tracking traffic.

    I do know we get a lot of traffic everyday but I don’t really know how much people click out. But anyway, great that you’re getting a boast.

    @Andreas –

    Hi Andreas!

    Thanks for commenting and coming through /r/sweden. :)

    Systemet is one of those places that every time I go there, a part of my soul dies. I feel like the Deatheaters guard the doors there.

    I don’t know how I could ever go back to America without 25 days of vacation. With my family in India and the US, we spend half the vacation a year just visiting them. Hahaha.

    How did you manage to work without vacation? Damn, that does suck.

    There are tons of Swedes in CA. Are you in the Bay?

    Ditto on the pizza! Though a really good deep dish is to die for (Zachary’s in Berkeley for example).

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