7 Things I Don’t Really Hate About Sweden Anymore

Like anyone living in a foreign country, you eventually get used to things. Some things just remain a nuisance while others are accepted as cultural idiosyncrasies.

Now that I have been here for a few years, I have come to terms with a lot of things. Some aspects drive me crazy (more on that later) but overall, I am doing my best to take a laissez-faire approach to serious issues. If the people aren’t forcing and clamoring for change, why I should be the outspoken one to hate on things? And if people don’t hate it, should I really hate it?

On the positive side, Sweden is becoming more of a place with choices. More independent shops, more items at the grocery stores, and more ethnic restaurants. Nicer people with more international experiences. Sweden is becoming a real fondue pot of goodness.

So, in no particular order, my list of things I don’t hate… too much.

1. Fitted Bedsheets – There was once a time when you could only find poor quality cotton bedsheets at IKEA. In white. ONLY white. Now, a few more stores here and there are carrying them. There is not a huge selection but there is a selection nonetheless.

Finding Egyptian cotton color sheets at a reasonable price is still difficult. Maybe at Hästens or NK I can find overpriced sheets. Instead, I buy sheets in the US to bring back. I keep my sanity and comfy sheets!

2. Swedish drivers – Let’s replace all “Swedish” with “Stockholm.” Stockholm drivers are awful, Swedish drivers not really. So an apology to all Swedish drivers (not Stockholm ones) for thinking you drive like Stockholmers.

Seriously, when you see a car cut off a police vehicle, and the police does not do anything, you know it is a wild wild west.

3. Rude Swedish behavior – Again, let’s replace “Swedish” with “Stockholm.” Stockholmers can be incredibly rude. While we call say the same about New York City residents, the city has earned the popular/awesome cred to have rude citizens. Stockholm is no New York.

But, overall, Stockholmers have become nicer, especially store clerks and waiters. They are not as stuck up and aloof as they used to be. Yay!

4. Systembolaget – I still hate that place but I have to accept its purpose. And I have come to terms that many Swedes do not trust themselves, or others, when it comes to regulating alcohol intake. Systemet exists for the sake of Sweden and it is something I can live with.

Besides, road-tripping to Germany for beer is awesome.

5. America bashing – The US does so many “WTF” things these days (hello, Teabaggers!) that I can understand the America bashing. For example, take gun control. How do you support people who advocate *no* background checks or social security registration? That’s America for you.

But I do mind when Swedes compare themselves to the developing world with, “See you shouldn’t complain, we don’t have that kind of traffic in India. We have traffic but it’s not India, we do not need to worry about it.”

Comparing yourself to the developing world is like comparing Einstein to an Autistic child, of course Einstein will be superior on all levels. But that doesn’t give him the right to slack off or a be a douche bag. If Swedes want to compare, compare yourselves to the developed world or to the Nordic region. Not to Sudan or India or Zimbabwe. K, rant over.

6. The weather – It sounds whiney, and sometimes it is whiney but poor Sweden did get the short end of the stick when it comes to habitable places on Earth. The more I think of it, the more I believe complaining about the weather is some cathartic experience to make Swedes happier.

7. No one takes responsibility – Change is happening at a glacier pace to make people/companies responsible for their actions. I think it will happen one day that the government agencies that make decisions actually have the teeth to enforce them. And maybe some corrupt and dysfunctional practices can finally come to an end. Maybe, hopefully.

Overall, I love Sweden. I know I am harsh and rude to you at times. But I hold you to a higher standard than India or the US. I expect you to know better. And I expect you to be a role model to others.

But you’re proving your worth. Just don’t let lagom and jantelag pull you down to the status quo. Sweden, I hate you at times because I love you.

California versus Sweden

As many of you know, I’m from California. Well, not really from California but spent a good part of my life and college years there. It still counts.

And every time I visit California, I notice all these differences between there and Sweden. Duh, I know they are two different regions. There isn’t much to compare when you have the North Pole versus silicon babes and chips.

But, did you know that Sweden is roughly the same geographic size as California? And did you know that Stockholm has a similar sized population as San Francisco?

Yea, I bet you didn’t know that!

the stockholm archipelago
view from the hot air balloon over western stockholm

wine country – napa county
les ombres

I thought then how fun would it be to make a comparison list of California versus Sweden. Crime, teenage pregnancy, unemployment rate, geography, the number of Swedes hiding in Noe Valley, etc.

Perhaps that will help all you’all people sitting on the fence whether to move to Sweden from California or vice versa.

Fun facts and statistics:

SwedenCalifornia
Official Name Konungariket SverigeState of California
Land Area (km^2)449,964423,970
Population9,514,40637,691,912
GDP* (in billions $)5381,900
Unemployment Rate %8.810.2
Teenage Pregnancy (per 1000)732
Teen Abortion (per 1000)20.926
Official AnimalElkCalifornia Grizzly Bear
Official BirdBlackbirdCalifornia Quail
Number of Lakes100,0003,000
Number of Islands24,000600
State ColorsBlue and yellowBlue and gold

References:
http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/USTPtrends.pdf
http://www.fhi.se/Statistik-uppfoljning/FolkhalsoAtlas–ett-interaktivt-visualiseringsverktyg/Tonarsaborter/
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/02/teen-pregnancy-record-low-rate-california-.html
http://www.library.ca.gov/history/symbols.html

And just a caveat, moving to San Francisco is like moving to Göteborg, it’s rainy, foggy, and rainy most of the year with a chance of crazy people. On the upside, SF is warmer, sunnier and has less hipsters.

If you think about more facts and bits to compare, write in a comment and I will add them to the table.

Fika – A Swedish Way of Life

Fika – it is a noun, a verb, and a way of life for Swedes.
Quiet possibly the best part of anyone’s day.

thanks lh for finding this!
 

Now don’t you just wanna fika right about … now?!
fika
thanks to Rinse for the photo

In British English a fika could be referred to as “high afternoon tea” but the definition is limited. High Afternoon tea is had in the afternoon and with the company of friends and scones.

In America English a fika would be “to have a  coffee” (verb) or a “coffee break” (noun).  Both definitions have limited meaning but get the gist across.

The Swedish way of defining fika is drinking coffee (verb), to have a coffee (noun).  Most people understand also fika as having a coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, just nothing alcoholic. Glögg, a Christmas mulled wine is the only exception since it is consumed during one month of the year.

Fika is important because it gives employees a few minutes throughout the day to catch up on gossip, sports, and life. A bit reminiscent of the water cooler though with a darker, nuttier, acidic drink. With friends, fika is the easy way to grab a coffee and cake and hang out at the cafe for a few hours.

To have a fika:

  • A fika can be had anywhere, it is not physically limited to a restaurant or cafe or office. You can have a fika at home with friends or go to the park and fika.
  • Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are the proper beverages to fika. Most Swedes drink a black death version of coffee (remember – quantity over quality) but if you are fancy, go for the French or Italian press.
  • A proper fika includes something sweet. It can be as little as chocolate truffles or more traditionally a pie {paj} or cookies. Swedes love berry pies, carrot cakes, princestårta, and the infamous chokladbolls {formally known as a negroboll}.

I am so used to using fika that I say it to even my American friends. Seriously, which is cooler: let’s grab a coffee, or, let’s fika. The latter duh.

Next time you want to show off your Swedishness, ask your friends or coworkers for a fika.

How often do you fika?

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Sweden’s Democratic Twitter Experience Implodes – Stephen Colbert Offers to Take Over

UPDATE: June 21st, 2012. I found some more shocking things Sonia said that put together, qualifies her for a padded white room. Quotes are listed below.

You know it’s always fun when a country fucks up. And fucks up royally via Twitter.

I totally missed this but a few days ago, a Swede on the Twitter account @Sweden went a bit weird and started a debate about what is a Jew.

I.e. What’s the Fuzz about Jews?

If that wasn’t weird enough, she did it not on her personal Twitter, but on the Twitter account run by government of Sweden, run by the Swedish Institue. They’re a government entity responsible to pick these fine, outstanding Swedish citizens (citizens only…UT and PUT holders can take a hike) thought she represented the views of Swedes.

WOW, what an epic fail!

Sonja Abrahamsson, the “low educated” Swedish mother had her “I don’t know what a Jew looks like” moment and sparked outrage.

While I’m all okay on offending people, what she said went too far. It starts with:

Before WW2 Hitler was one of the most beautiful names in the whole wide world. I know. Its as chocking as dolphin rapists.
– @sweden / Sonja (@sweden) 10:37 PM – 11 Jun 12

On her blog, she even nicknamed herself Sonia “Hitler” Abrahamsson. Ummm, psycho, troll, or nutcase?

“Whats the fuzz with jews. You can’t even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can’t be sure!?”

— @sweden / Sonja (@sweden) June 12, 2012

And then turns into:

“In nazi germany they even had to sow stars on their sleeves. If they didn’t, they could never now who was a jew and was not a jew.”
— @sweden / Sonja (@sweden) June 12, 2012
Poof! And Sweden’s democratic experience to be tech savvy and a neutral nation implodes.

The only useful statement she did make was:

Im sorry if some of you find the question offensive. Thats was not my purpose. I just don’t get why some people hates jews so much.

— @sweden / Sonja (@sweden) June 12, 2012

You can see the Twitter feed here:

While it is great a country allows its citizens to share their thoughts and ideas, there is a fine line of funny and apocalyptic stupidity.  But Sweden’s Twitter account has not been without controversy.  The first Swede to represent the account was an open masturbator, and though hilarious, not quite appropriate for the general audience.

And though Swedes are all about free speech, they have stifling strict hate-speech laws. Nearly every time Jimmy Åkesson opens his mouth (the leader of SverigesDemokraterna), he’s arrested for hate speech against the immigrant communities.

But when a Swede starts questioning what a Jew looks like, it is acceptable. Perhaps she has never met a Jew because they don’t want to be known as the people “wearing yellow stars or with cut penises.”

Those Twitter messages are still live and the Swedish Institute and the government has not apologized for them. Perhaps they want us all to wear stars so we can be figured out? Or it’s okay to make fun of hungry gays with aids.

At least there’s hope that Stephen Colbert can take control of the Twitter account and bring complete mayhem to Sweden’s face.

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,Video Archive

Sonia made a rebuttal video to Stephen Colbert’s second news coverage of the incident.

And if Sweden ever wants an immigrant to poke fun of Sweden (they’ve had very few colored people run their account…)…well, I am here!

10 Things To Do That Make You Definitively Swedish

If you haven’t been in Sweden long enough then you can do a few things that make you unquestionably Swedish. And I mean in a good way, not the get wasted and throw up on the tunnelbanan at 2am way.

1. Queue up – Getting that kölapp at the local apotek or systembolaget means you can waddle around the store and not have to stand in one position. When there is no kölapp, you’re utterly confused and wonder why i God’s name someone would make you stand single file when instead you could get a piece of paper with a number on it.

2. Fika fika fika – Drink coffee, have cake. 10AM, 1PM, 3PM, with your friends, in an office, on a boat (with a goat). Rinse and repeat.
tea time

3. Drink Bäska – Forget OP Andersson and Fläder brennavin. Want the real deal? Drink Bäska. If you survive two shots, consider yourself a true Swede. If not, go home and drink the Icelandic Brennivin to work up your tolerance.
more nubbe

4. Visit Drottningholm (or any castle) – Swedish castles are all located on beautiful grounds. For the most part, you can hike walk in the woods and enjoy the beautiful Swedish nature.

5. Pick berries and mushrooms – Part of the rights under allemansrätten, you can pick berries, fruits, plants, and flowers on any property as long as you don’t disturb the owners or are picking directly from their garden (that would be lame to take strawberries from the house garden – and illegal in this case). The summertime should be filled with berry picking and chanterelles.

6. Eat meatballs – You can eat them at a restaurant but the best is to make them at home with mashed potatoes and fresh ligonberry jam. Mums! Need a recipe? Just follow the Swedish Chef‘s instructions.

7. Take a boat ride – As long as you have access to water, hop on a boat and take a ride to a popular or deserted island. On the west coast there’s Marstrand and tons of uninhabited islands, on the east coast of Sweden, there are all the Stockholm city islands and boats to Fjärdaholmarna, Vaxholm, and Grinda.

8. Sunbathe at the beaches – I use the term ‘beach’ loosely as it could mean sunbathing by the water on a lot of rocks. Or it could mean having an actual sand beach. And by sunbathing I mean being a solar panel, with or without your clothes.

9. Picnicking at 10pm – In the summertime, you’re guaranteed to lost track of time because the sky is never dark. Have a early dinner outside grilling lax and meats and then enjoy the orange sunset while the sun disappears for a mere three hours. It may sound cheesy but on a good, clear night, the sun is bright orange like a fireball. Get on a hill to see it.

10. Watch Eurovision – There are two ways to watch Eurovision in Sweden: because you love it or you love to hate it. Both are acceptable forms of watching. And you get extra credit if shots are involved to make fun of your homeland Sweden.

Is there anything you do with friends that guarantee your Swedishness? And speaking Bork gets you double extra credit.

The Swedish Obsession with Licorice {Candy Series Part III}

Today I attended Lakritsfestivalen, a new annual show dedicated to the plant, licorice. Yes, licorice is on the verge of the next culinary explosion and it’s fitting that the country to lead the licorice extravaganza is Sweden.

This is part III on my Swedish Candy Series. Be sure to check out parts I and II.
Plockgodis – Be an Expert at Picking from the Candy Bins
An Introduction to Swedish Candy

What godis (candy) do you love?

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Swedes love licorice, as they love candy. There is no group of people more obsessed by this root, say for the Finns, than the Swedes. Sweet, salty, neutral are ingrained in Swedish candy culture.

Americans on the other hand, find licorice to be downright bizarre. Even though the US produced two of the oldest licorice candies, Good & Plenty and Crows, you will see few Americans indulging in a licorice root.

And so I went on a quest for understanding why Swedes love licorice and where that love stems from.

A table full of candy from Beriksson’s Import at Lakritsfestivalen

The answers, from various licorice confectioners, writers, and a herbalist was surprising.

Annica Tryberg, coauthor of the book Lakrits, said, “Licorice falls into the Swedish palette: salty and sweet. Many Swedish dishes like gravad lax and types of sill are salty. Salty licorice brings out comforting, homely flavors that we love.”

Pelle Petterson who works with importing Icelandic licorice said, “Icelanders love strong, salty licorice, it matches our taste for food very well. They were also the first to commercially produce chocolate with licorice, Freyja’s Draumur, which could be loved by everyone.”

Many people said licorice candy is popular because of the love for salty foods. Sweden, and the rest of the Nordic region, had to rely on salted meats and fish to last through the long winters. That love of salt did not dissipate when licorice was introduced at the apoteket as a medicinal product in the 1800s.

I think that since licorice gives an adrenaline boast, it can improve people’s spirits during the long winters and combat SAD (seasonal affected disorder).

In the 1800s the apotek {pharmacy} sold licorice roots as a medicinal product. Lisan Sundgren, a herbalist and cofounder of Queen of Licorice, a natural beauty company using licorice, said, “To aid with digestion, psoriasis, dandruff, the dry cough, all common ailments in in Sweden, licorice was and still is a natural remedy. It’s cheap and safe for the body.”

Sweet licorice in the form of licorice paste could also be found at the apotek to satisfy a sweet craving. Liquorice’s sweet tasting component is the glycyrrhizin acid, a compound 30-50 times stronger than sucrose (natural sugar).

In the 1930s Malmö Lakrits Compani (later Malaco) formed and began selling Sweden’s first licorice candy.

While several licorice candies were on the market by that point, Swedish licorice differed in flavor from its Anglo counterparts. Swedish lakrits was stronger and salter. Part of it was the licorice paste (the extract) and part was the usage ammonium chloride to give licorice a strong, pungent flavor known as salmiak.

Today, licorice is enjoying rock star status as the next big thing in the culinary world. While children may still eat Panda lakrits and licorice ropes, adults are experimenting with licorice powder, paste, and syrups.

Cupcake STHLM licorice cupcakes

Still, the best answer to why Swedes are in love with licorice could be answer by Martin at Cupcake STHLM.

“Swedes and licorice have similar personalities: it takes time to become friends and break down a Swede’s barrier. In the same way, it takes time to learn and love the taste of licorice.”

I agree. Even though I may not allow the lakrits plockgodis to fraternize with the chocolate pieces, I feel in love with licorice today. It took me thirty years.

Do you love licorice?

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Pea Soup & Pancake Thursday – Being Truly Swedish

When I first heard about pea soup Thursday {ärtsoppa på tordagan}, I reenacted the scene from The Exorcist where Linda Blair throws up pea soup and does the infamous 360 degree head turn.

Pea soup gave me nightmares for years.

soup + dessert = epic swedish win?
Pea soup and pancakes

And it still does, but a couple weeks ago AB and I ventured to Blooms Café at Mariatorget and took the plunge for the traditional pea soup with pancakes lunch; a cornerstone of Swedish cuisine. The girl at the register was convincing.

trying my soup…
Pea soup day!

AB is suspicious of the greenness
Tasting pea soup

The soup was delicious. Blooms used fresh green peas, instead of the typical yellow peas for the Swedish version, and blended it with some cream and spice. I think the soup could have had more cream but it was filling and perfect for a rainy day.

We then ate our pancakes, I finished all mine since I left a little soup in the bowl; maximizing real estate in my tummy is paramount when dessert is involved. They served traditional Swedish style pancakes, closely resembling French crêpes, with whipped cream and raspberry jam.

My husband, like any Swede who’s attended school, or even military training and prison, will know that on Thursdays pea soup is served as the meal of the dal. Even today at his office cafetaria, they serve peasoup with pancakes.

The tradition stems from needing a hearty meal before Friday fasting in the Catholic faith. Sweden was Catholic for a short couple hundred years following the Danish influence of dismantling the old Gods in favor of one God. In the 1500s Sweden dropped Catholism and became a Protestant, Luthern, country.

Plus the Swedish King was evidently poisoned through his pea soup. Forensic evidence done recently however has not been able confirm if he would have been able to die the residual arsenic found in the soup.

The tradition of pea soup before fasting remains ingrained in the culture today. From schools and prisons serving it, you can find the ready made yellow pea soup at the groceries in the funny sausage style tubes.

I have not had yellow pea soup but I have had dalh, Indian lentil soup, from yellow split peas. Delicious because of the garam masala, onions, and ginger. The Swedish version I hear is not as exciting.

Instead, I recommend the fresh green pea soup for your Thursday Swedish meal. It is like spring with a dash of cream. If you want the yellow pea soup, perhaps go Indian style and be sacrilegious.

Pannkaka

The best reward of finishing pea soup means enjoy pancakes with jam and grädde. Mumms!

What is a Swede?

Technically, a Swede is a rutabaga.

Seriously, it is.

Wikipedia says so.   It has to be true! Actually, it is true…the kålrot is called a swede in the commonwealth countries.

If you want to know what a Swede, the person is, well, I found an interesting blog post from an old blog called Living in Sweden by Ngala.   The text of his post, “What or Who is a Swede,” was found in computer lab in Umeå.


A Swede is tall, blond, blue-eyed, and wears a woolly hat in the winter.   By nature he is shy, reserved, serious, industrious, and finds it hard to laugh at himself.   He is also a creature of habit and every morning gets up at 5.30 to give himself enough time to read the morning newspaper before going to work.   Since work does not usually start until 8 o’clock, this can only imply that a Swede is also a slow reader.

Apart from himself, his chief interests are money, his job, his home, ice-hockey, and his family (in that order). He also loves animals – especially dogs – and spends hours cycling through the town dragging a huge and ferocious German Shepherd behind him on a leash.

A Swede is usually punctual, honest, reliable, clean, has his own teeth, and is law-abiding. Evidence of the latter is particularly noticeable at pedestrian crossings.    No matter what the weather is like, a Swede would rather get soaked to the skin than cross an empty street when a red light is showing.   Similarly, he always wears a seat belt, never drinks and drives, always has a television licence, usually hands in his tax-return on time, invariably has a plastic bag in his pocket when he walks his dog, and never has a bath after 10 o’clock.

{This article goes on quite a bit but as I’m not the copyright holder and have already gotten in trouble by my big-brother-eyeing-advertising network, I’ve taken down the text. Make sure to visit Living in Sweden to read the rest of the article.}

What do you think?

Swedish Culture Win – Shoes Off Please

There’s this ongoing battle in many countries. The dispute can destroy dinner parties and make friendships awkward. Some people compare this battle to the War of the Roses, eternal until death do us part.

It is called – The Battle of Wearing Shoes Indoors!

I for one, do not allow shoes in the house. I never have. I never will.

Here’s why:

  • I am Indian, and like all other Asians, our home is our sanctuary.   To not takes shoes off is a sign of disrespect to the owners of the house.
  • I am a Hindi and a Jain, and as such, our home is also a place of worship.   God doesn’t like people schleeping in with shoes and shit on them.
  • I live in Sweden and not wearing shoes indoors is the biggest Swedish cultural win ever. Most of the year it rains or snows in Sweden. Why on earth would you drag stone, snow, mud filled shoes into a home? And Swedes pride themselves on keeping fastidiously clean homes (Americans, for all your cleaning supplies, the Swedes are better at keeping a home tidy). Plus, Swedes find it rude to walk around in a home with shoes you wear for the outside world.
  • Shoes indoors are gross.  No matter how many times I hear the, “ohhh, but it can make people uncomfortable to take their shoes off.   What if they have smelly feet or bunions or holey socks?” Seriously?  If someone gives me that dumbass rhetorical question, my answer is “maybe you should see a doctor and buy a pair of socks without holes.”
  • I am lazy and do not want to wipe scuff marks or water marks from your shoes in my home.
  • Your home is your home.   You have the right to ask, request, and in standoffs, demand people to remove their shoes.   Just as a guest does not have the right to eat food not served to them or throw their coats on the floor or eat before the host (in a formal dinner), a guest can certainly take their shoes off.
  • Wearing shoes all the time is stifling for my feet.  Who wants their feet to be smushed all day long in a pair of sneakers or heels?

no shoes indoors please

When I grew up, half the homes I would visit would take their shoes off and half would not. Even when I lived in New York and the temperature was -30C and blizzard conditions, I saw some friends keep their shoes on.

At my birthday parties, which occurred in December, my mom would always run around and ensure kids took those shoes off. I’m glad she did; no wants to clean up snow blizzard crap on the carpet. Plus, it was a to teach the kids, and adults, that we do ask for respect when you come into our home.

There were always some kids who would cry when they had to take their shoes off. They probably turned into the same adults who “can never take their shoes off because I’ve been doing it for 15 years.” Gross, don’t you want your feet to get some air? No wonder athlete’s foot is a huge problem in the United States.

But after doing some reading, the shoes on indoors turns out to be Anglo-Saxon tradition. Britain, northern Germany, the United States, the Netherlands, and some South American countries.

The Daily Mail had a hilarious article about wearing shoes indoors.

“Is asking guests to remove their shoes before they cross your ­threshold good housekeeping or horribly naff? After all, the suggestion is that your friends’ shoes are so grubby that they are bound to be treading something unspeakable over your carpets.”

Insinuating that your friends shoes are “so grubby” is misleading; shoes ARE dirty. What “unspeakables” would someone tread? Dirt, leaves, mud, water, snow, stones, dog shit, cigarette butts, snus, gum. No unspeakables here, shoes tread dirt.

“One poster wondered whether it was OK to ask guests to remove their footwear at the housewarming party she was hosting. ‘No,’ was the overwhelming response.
‘I’m picturing a Barratt home, twigs in a vase covered in fairylights and that Ikea picture of pebbles,’ sniped one woman on the forum.”

Remind me to never invite the nay-sayers into my home.

“Podiatrist Kate Millns says: ‘Asking people to remove their shoes is giving your guests unnecessary stress, as most people like to keep their feet hidden. It’s more hygienic to make them keep their shoes on, especially if they are not wearing socks or tights.”

By far the most bizarre of all, how does keeping one shoes on be more hygienic than taking them off? Honestly, if your feet smell a lot, you should be seeing a doctor, and possibly not wearing shoes every second of every day.

What to do in a Nordic household:

  • Please do take your shoes off being being asked to do-so.   The whole “Opps, I’m American, I didn’t realize it” is a lame and disrespectful excuse to a homeowner.
  • If you are attending a dinner party and do want to wear a pair of heels, ask the host if it is okay to bring the heels in a bag. Clean the soles with soap and water and wrap them up in a nice bag to take to the party.
  • I sometimes take a pair of my flat jutas to a party. I have cold feet and these shoes are meant for indoors only. They’re also very cute and stylish.
  • Some hosts will have a strict no shoes policy. That is especially true with people who have soft wooden floors. My friend had an inflytningsfest (housewarming party) and made the mistake of allowing people to wear clean heels in the house. Only two of the thirty or so guests did. And one of them left divits across a brand new floor. We tracked her “footprints” from the living room to the entrance to the bathroom and around. The cost to steam and fix the imprints will be 3000-6000SEK.
  • When in Sweden, embrace some new traditions. This is an instance of a great tradition.
  • Buy a shoe rack and a chair to help make it easier for guests to arrange their shoes and sit comfortably when taking them off.
  • Last, think about how much money you can save when not needing to buy shoes in Sweden for every new outfit! I call that winning!

shoe and jacket rack

From the forum, Imamother.com:
“Yes its YOUR home but wouldnt you want people to be comfortable in your home? Lets say they put on their worst pair of socks with holes in the front, not knowing that you had such a “policy”. Would you like to take the risk of embarrasing the visitor by them having to wear “holey socks” or putting them in the position of not wanting to take them off?”

If my friends had a pair of holey socks, it is not my problem.  It’s also NOT for me to make fun of them and make it an issue.

One of these days, I will stitch a sign to say “Inga Skor.” And if someone questions me, I will say “we’re Swedes, take off your damn shoes!”

UPDATE: Temporary Stockholmer found a doormat sold at Home Sweet Home.

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.

 

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

 

Allemansrätten
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.

 

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

 

Matches
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.

 

Systembolaget
I hate you, but I still need you.

 

Osthyvel
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…