Various ways of upsetting your Swedish friends

  1. Declare that the kanelbulle was invented in your country

How dare you – claiming that in a country where they even celebrate the “Kanelbullens Dag”. Remember this on the next 4th of October

  1. Say that fika is a waste of time

Closely related to the kanelbulle…. Fika is taken very seriously. Fika is not only part of the Swedish culture – fika is the Swedish culture. You probably already realized that – no matter how long you’ve been here. The other day, one of my Swedish colleagues put a scientific (?) article on the kitchen table, which was about the health and productivity gain through having fikas. Let me find the reference for you…


  1. Translate the word “lagom” into your own language and be stubborn about it being the one-to-one translation

Some words don’t have an equivalent in any other language known to man – so do the Germans have “Feierabend”, for example, while the Swedes have “lagom”. Don’t even try translating…


  1. Talk loudly in public places – especially in public transportation during weekdays

Doesn’t matter if you’re on the phone or if you’re having a conversation with a friend – if you want to avoid being silently screamed at or stared at evilly (secretly through the tunnelbana’s window reflections), just keep the volume down. There is only one exception: Public transportation, Fridays and Saturdays after 2 am. You don’t know what I’m talking about? Just go and observe the tunnelbana-transformation yourself…


  1. Walk inside with your shoes still on

It is an unwritten law that nobody would ever dare to break. Even at my own place I started feeling guilty walking in with my shoes still on. Here, just to give you an impression from my last birthday party:


  1. Cut the line at the bus stop or anywhere – don’t pick a number

I’d consider this as another unwritten law… In Germany, I’m pretty good at getting to places fast ( = cutting lines), but many people do it, so you don’t really stand out. In Sweden though, this is not possible – even if you wanted to. In most places, where there is the slightest chance of a queue developing (and thus a possible conflict), you pick a number and wait until it’s your turn. I just found this picture, which perfectly shows what would naturally happen in Sweden once waiting for the bus:


  1. Try to arrange an afterwork announcing it less than a week in advance

Don’t get me wrong here – we Germans (at least I) love to plan, too. However, I did make some crazy experiences here in Sweden, one being my Swedish friend inviting me to an afterwork at her place 7 (!) weeks in advance… Just so you know (and so you can plan).

  1. Refuse to talk about the weather

God knows why this is a topic that every Swede I met can get passionate about. Just go for it, I’d say – at least I haven’t found a similarly easy topic yet that everybody likes to discuss.

weather today

  1. Don’t allow group discussions – just decide how to move forward

This is the strategy that I’d sometimes be tempted to follow to make a group work more efficient (or to just get it done). “But, no, no, Olivia, everybody has to be able to explain their opinions and we will discuss as long as necessary to reach consensus and to make everybody happy”, my Swedish friends would… not say directly… but definitely imply. Be ready for some extra hours of discussions.

Milis post

10.  Disapprove Midsommar

To imagine how a Swede would feel if you said anything against Midsommar, just imagine somebody criticizing Christmas (or whatever you are celebrating – say, your birthday). Midsommar can be considered holy ( – not in the “holy” sense of holy though… given that the majority of the Swedes are atheists). This is a fun video explaining what Midsommar is exactly:

midsommar 2013

PS: Let me tell you that all of these things are amongst those I do like most about Sweden and the Swedes.

PPS: If you like this, please share!

One thought on “Various ways of upsetting your Swedish friends

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s