Tag Archives: scandinavia

Things Scandinavians obsess about

June 20, 2018 | Leave a comment


Things Scandinavians obsess about

We have our little ways and our ways are not to be changed. Sometimes, we may even get a bit obsessive.

Having set days for things
– Taco Friday – it’s a thing
– Cosy Crisp Friday evening – it’s a thing
– Saturday sweets – it’s a thing.

If it can be assigned a day, it can work in Scandinavia. You are no longer allowed to do that thing on other days, because, well, rules.

Obsession rating: 7/10


It keeps us awake for six months of the year – and it makes us happy the other six. We drink more of it than anyone else in the whole world. We’re wired at all times.

In recent years, we’ve started to drink fancy coffee too – and not just at home. A latte in Denmark is pronounced ‘Laddie’ and costs the same as a small boat. In Sweden, it’s known as a Latt-tè and always said with a grimace, caffeinated smile.

Obsession rating 10/10

How the cheese is sliced

Use a slicer like a proper Scandinavian. Steel planer for hard cheese, plastic for softer cheese – and a string slicer for softer, Danish style cheeses. Under no circumstances may you 1) cut the nose off the cheese 2) make a hill or ski slope 3) Grate from an odd angle.

Obsession rating: 8/10

Getting fresh air

“No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes” – for this reason, you must be one with nature at least once a day. Frisk Luft means fresh air. Rain, shine, snow, hurricane…

If you are Norwegian, you add a ‘tur’ – a long walk – usually on Sundays. With no destination or purpose other than the walk itself (bring a thermo flask of strong coffee and wear an all-weather coat).

Obsession rating: 7/10 (Norway 10/10)


Do not wear shoes indoors. No. Do not.

Obsession rating 8/10

Butter knives

Thou shalt never use your own knife in the butter. Thou shalt use the butter knife, usually carved out of wood.

Obsession rating 9/10 (you’ll get the disapproval eye if you don’t)

“Tak for sidst”

We may not have an actual word for please, but being polite is essential. Seeing someone after you went for dinner at their house last week? You say ‘Tak for sidst/senast’ (Thanks for last time). Bumping into Kalle and Frida 3 months after spending New Years with them? Tak for sidst. There is no expiration date of saying ‘thanks for last time’, except you only say it once (best keep scores).

Obsession rating 8/10 (for the older generation).


If you can add a flag, add a flag. Have a flag pole in your garden. Put cocktail flags on your food. Flags are essential.

Obsession rating: 5/10 (rising to 10/10 on any national days or event)

Never being cold

Even if it is -20c outside, thou shalt never be cold. So, keep the indoor temperature at a steady 24c at all times and walk around in your long johns. See also: Under floor heating obsessions and winter clothes that is essentially like covering your body in 15 tog duvets.

Obsession rating: 8/10

Time keeping

Why agree a time if you’re not going to stick to it? Scandinavians are always on time.

Dinner at 7 pm means turn up at 7 pm, be seated by 7:05pm. Turn up late, you miss out on the starter.

Obsession rating: 9/10

Thou shalt eat meatballs once a week.

Obsession rating 2/10 (when in Scandinavia)
Obsession rating 8/10 (When living outside Scandinavia – on Saturdays, stray Swedes can be found in ikea’s the world over, crying with joy)


If one person must suffer, we will all suffer. Therefore, queues must be ordered. Grab a ticket on your way in to the bakery/car hire place/pharmacy/hardware store and eventually, your number will be called. Fair is fair. No ticket, no service.

This is especially applicable in Sweden, where fairness and lagom rules all.

(Also, never talk to anyone in a queue, ever).

Obsession rating: 6/10


Take some magic powder (made by elves; it’s called dip-mix). Mix with sour cream or similar. Leave it to develop the flavours for 20 minutes in the fridge. Empty your massive 200g crisp bag into a bowl on the table and proceed to dip each individual crisp in the dip before eating it.

Best flavours: Anything that adds extra dill flavour or has exotic sounding names such as ‘holiday flavour’ (no, it does not taste like your holiday to Malaga)

Obsession rating 7/10

Salty liquorice

The salty black stuff. You might not like it, but it’s elixir of life to us. Once we realise we can’t get it (i.e. when we are outside Scandinavia), it becomes a food group all on its own and we must have some on our person at all times.

Obsession rating: 7/10


At any given opportunity, Scandinavians will mention the hygge/koseligt/mysigt. Because when you mention that we’re going to have a hyggelig time, you increase the chances of it happening.

Pick up your ipad/phone during the event and you’re out.

Obsession rating 9/10


Think about it: Ikea has an entire hall dedicated to candles and candle paraphernalia.

It’s dark for six months, we need to try and increase the hygge feelings while we hibernate in our wooden huts. A space is not a hyggeligt home unless it is lit by a million candles. Real candles only: they are not scented (and only buy candles that contain stearin or you can’t be a real Scandi)

Obsession rating: 10/10

Singing little songs

Every time we drink aquavit, songs must be sung. And in Denmark, every time someone has a big birthday or wedding or anniversary (aquavit or not), random Danish home penned lyrics will be put over the tunes of ‘My Bonnie is over the ocean’ and sung by all people present in the room.

Obsession rating: 5/10

The weather

Think the British are obsessed about the weather? Most Scandinavians have a thermometer in each room – measuring both inside and out. Also, most Scandi people know the only weather app that matters is YR.NO.

Obsession rating: 6/10


Everyone is equal. We pay into the system so we can all aim to get the same out of the system. You have more, you pay more. You have less, you get more. Men and women getting shared parental leave. Everyone driving the same cars. Fair is fair and equal is equal. For the greater good of the whole group. Lagom and amen.

Obsession rating: 8/10

23 ways to annoy a Scandinavian person

April 5, 2018 | Leave a comment


23 ways to annoy a Scandinavian person

We’ve updated our list which now includes no fewer than 23 ways on how to annoy us. So, if you ever find the need to want to really get to one of us, this is a helpful start. Proceed with caution.

1. Sweden, Norway and Denmark, it’s all the same, right?

Not right. Different countries, cultures and languages. Yes, really, and don’t make it worse by tilting your head to one side and saying ‘oh really?!’ as if you don’t believe us.

(Finland is sometimes included, but officially, it’s not really Scandinavia).

2. Ah, you’re Dutch, are you?

When you insist that Danes are Dutch. As in: “Oh, I love Copenhagen, I always wanted to go to Holland for my holidays”.


3. Ah, you’re Swiss? Sweden, right?

No, Swedish, like ABBA and Volvos. The Swiss have cheese with big holes, an army with small knives. We have blondes and meatballs. They speak five languages, not one of which is Swedish.

4. Do you have polar bears in Oslo?

Sure thing. They also roam the streets of Copenhagen. Some of us keep them as pets, next to our penguins.

5. Scandinavian? Do you eat herring, like, all the time?

No, we mostly eat sharks and whales, covered in liquorice.

6. When you sing the Swedish Chef song from Muppets.

When you go hurdy, gurdy bork bork bork, we die a little bit inside.

7. When you kill the cheese

Seriously, it’s a cheese, it needs to be respected. Get a proper cheese slicer and do NOT make a ski slope.

8. When you say: “To be honest, you don’t LOOK Swedish/Norwegian/Danish…”

I don’t? And you don’t look English, either.

9. “Ahh, you’re Swedish? I used to have a Norwegian girlfriend once…”

Fail. Go back to start and read point one.

10. When you don’t remove your shoes before entering our house

Because we don’t like dirt being dragged all over the house. It’s the ultimate sin.

11. Refuse our offer of coffee

Hva?! Don’t you like COFFEE? Don’t you know we drink more of it than anyone else in the entire world and we don’t know what to do if you don’t want coffee?

Our bodies are full of caffeine. It’s like a Eurovision final in our veins and we’re wired, from morning to night, from drinking litres of strong filter coffee. We even drink coffee at 9:30pm.

12. When you talk to us in a queue
This applies to any queue. Queues are not places for talking, they are places for not standing next to other people. Places to pretend people do not exist. A good approximate distance of 1 ½ metres minimum either side will do.

13. When you refuse to go outside because, well, THE WEATHER!

It’s just weather. There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Suck it up, dress for it and get out side.

Even worse: When you claim you can’t get to work because of snow/wind/rain/leaves/sun.

14. When you say: “You’re cold? But you’re Scandinavian!”

Yes, and we feel cold. Just like you, fellow humans. Our veins are not made of ice, they are filled with hot Eurovision coffee, remember?

15. “So, what do you all get up to in the sauna, then? You’re all really NAKED?”

Yes. We don’t have an issue with nudity. It’s really just skin. The sauna is for health reasons (And also for drinking home brew aquavit, but we’ll never tell you about that).

16. “And here’s your new bathroom, the sink has separate hot and cold taps…”

We are Scandinavian: this does not please us. We cannot function with separate hot and cold taps, we grew up with mixer taps and water at nice temperature… We invented Ikea and we are the kings of common sense design in houses.

See also: Showers with no water pressure, carpets in bathrooms, cold floors…

17. “Kvikklunsj, it’s just a KitKat, right?”

Say that to a Norwegian and they are unlikely to invite you for any more hygge candle evenings up at the Hytte (cottage). KitKat is nothing like a Kvikklunsj, except that it looks the same. It’s better, far superior and the taste test has been won more times than we care to remember. Don’t go there.

Photo: The Guardian

18. When you tell us we invented Hygge and Lagom just to be cool.

Ehh… you took our words and made candles, socks and underpants out of them.

See also: People who pronounce hygge to rhyme with jiggy (you’re dead to us)

19. When you question our milk consumption

It’s perfect normal to drink a massive glass of milk with your breakfast. And dinner.

20. When you laugh at Eurovision

We know that it clearly is one of the highlights of the year – alongside Christmas and Midsummer and all our birthdays put together.

Without Eurovision, you’d have no Waterloo, no Euphoria, no nada. Don’t knock it: We gave cheese to you guys. Be grateful.

21. When you schedule a conference call in the middle of our lunch hour. Which is at 11 am.

We like to lunch between 11 am and midday. It’s a thing.


22. When you forget to listen to how we REALLY are

Why ask us ‘How are you’ when you don’t mean it? We do not understand this.

It’s simple: “How are you?” And we reply. Yes, we’re happy to tell you about our dodgy knee, our unfortunate incident at Tesco’s and anything else on our minds. Why do you give us that polite nod? If you don’t want to know, don’t ask us.

23. When you’re late.

As a general rule, Scandinavians are on time. Every time. Not early, not late but on time. Dinner invites, meetings, work: Be ON TIME.

Did we forget any? Leave your comments below.

How to spot a Scandinavian in the wild

February 15, 2018 | Leave a comment


How to spot a Scandinavian in the wild

A calm creature at heart, the Scandinavian often blend in perfectly in the surroundings, adapting to local customs with ease. But with this guide, you too can learn to spot one in the wild.

The look

Often classed as a cliché and urban myth – but of course there are some factors that can be indicative of a Scandinavian:

Wearing all black, including a massive oversized scarf, hair in messy bun on top of head (or guys may be sporting a beard worthy of 2010 Hackney Central) – Danish

Trousers worn just that little too tight, with pointy shoes and slicked back hair (the male species) or white converse shoes (or similar flats) and rather hair straightened middle parting hair (females) – Swedish

All-weather practical jacket in bright colours, a practical back pack (containing one orange and a Kvikklunsj chocolate bar) – Norwegian

Queue behaviour

Scandinavians are not great at small talk, so if you spot one in a queue you can often confirm sighting if they keep a minimum of 1,5 metres away from you and look the other way. Spot 5-6 people standing with distance between then, you may have spotted a flock – especially rare in the wild.

In shops, Swedes especially can often be found looking for ticket machines (those that were popular in UK supermarkets deli counters in the 80’s).

Upon entry to any house

The Scandinavian will remove his or her shoes and leave them in the hallway, without being asked.

In their homes

Apartment with white walls, white floors, white skirting boards and white bed linen and all white kitchen with black counter top? You’ve likely spotted one. There may be some grey tones, too. No curtains? It’s a Dane. Overall, expect no carpets anywhere and a whole host of very practical storage solutions.

The Décor

All will have an animal skin of some sort draped over a well designed chair. Reindeer, sheep or kitten.

Just joking about the kitten. But did you know a kitten is called a Killing in Danish? A Killing in Swedish means baby goat. See? You learn stuff every day.

Ps if you are planning to get a reindeer skin for a chair: don’t. They shed hairs, like ALL the time, forever. They are not good on chairs or floors, only on walls. You’ve been warned.

The bathroom

No sinks will have two separate taps and the bath has likely been exchanged for a practical walk-in shower for two. The toilet will have water-saving flush on it. It will all be white. You may experience very crappy toilet paper (“it’s better for the environment”).

In the fridge

The Dane will have an old tube of remoulade dressing and some rye bread.
The Swede will have an old tube of Kalles Kaviar and some crispbread.
The Norwegian will have some brown cheese and some Mills.

All of them will have a bar of Marabou/Freia and some salty liquorice in the cupboard for emergencies.

Comfort food

Spaghetti with ketchup? Bingo. Other comfort foods include hotdogs with a lot of toppings, open sandwiches of all kinds and fish balls.

At work

The Scandinavian will be at work early because back home, he will start before 8 am. By 9:30 it is time for a coffee break where he will place his mouth under the spout of the office espresso machine and press ‘double shot’ several times (Repeat at 2 pm for afternoon fika).


You can spot him because by 11:30, it is lunch time and he starts to feel it. Packed lunch, with mellemlagningspapir (middle layer paper). Norwegians and Danes are especially fond of packed lunches with sweaty cheese and soggy cucumber. The Swedes, being more sophisticated, can be harder to spot as they happily blend in the hot-lunch crowd.

Leaving work

If you spot someone in your office who is always out the door at 16:31, he or she may be Scandinavian. It is perfectly natural to do this back home, as anyone who stays late is often considered to be a negative influence in the work place. Also known as a ‘morakker’ (you don’t want to be THAT guy).

Drawing by Jenny K Blake/Ikke sant.

Friday Evening

A Scandinavian will automatically reach for a share bag of crisps on a Friday night. There is probably also a bowl of holiday flavoured dip on the side. Holiday is a flavour in Scandinavia where you can get many things flavoured like your last holiday (?!)


Someone who eats half a kilo of pick’n’mix on a Saturday without a hint of shame? Yes, a Scandinavian. It’s called Lördagsgodis and it is always allowed on Saturdays. No other days, though. He or she will have a light dinner, because, well, Lagom.

How are you?

You can single one out quickly simply by saying ‘how are you’? A Scandinavian – Danes especially – will tell you EXACTLY how they are feeling. With all the details. Avoid this test if in a hurry.


Swedes can be easy to spot as they have a habit of announcing to the world when they need to pee. Board meeting, family dinner – it matters not – I NEED TO PEE.


Wondering if someone is Scandi whilst you are at a brunch? Simply go up and cut the cheese in a weird angle. Most Scandinavians will follow behind you and ‘correct’ your cheese slicing crime, often in silence, using the appropriate tool. This is the Scandi contribution to the World Order.

A million candles

The sun goes down and you wonder if the person you are with is a Scandi. Do they walk around turning on many little lamps in the room? (Approximately 7 lamps per 12m2) How many candles? Scandinavians thrive in a cosy atmosphere and will always attempt to create hygge and mys in the dark.

Scented candles? Be vary of a possible imposter as Scandinavians don’t often use scented candles.

In bed

If he or she has two single duvets on the bed instead of a large double, you’ve got yourself a Scandinavian. It’s just nicer that way.

Any other things that make Scandinavians stand out? Pop your thoughts in the comments below!

Read more about Scandinavia and Scandinavians in Bronte Aurell’s book NORTH – available here. 

Our favourite little places to go in Scandinavia

June 24, 2015 | Leave a comment


Our favourite little places to go in Scandinavia

Summer’s here – and many of you Scandiphiles are heading to our native countries for your vacation. We asked our team where their favourite little unknown places are in their home countries – so if you are anyway near, you should pop over and check it out.



Guldhedstornets Café in Gothenburg! Funny little cafe up the top of a water tower, you can have both ice cream AND vanilla sauce with the blueberry pie! In the winter they have only a few lights so each table gets candles and you can enjoy the view over the city with coffee and free refills.



Trelleborg near Slagelse in Denmark. It’s the site of the best preserved Viking ring fortress. It really makes you realise just how big these fortresses were and how cleaver the Vikings were with regards to working the land and the sea. We can trace my family back in this region to 1736 – okay, not quite back to Vikings, but its still a place I like to go for a long walk. It’s absolutely home – and part of my heritage.


B0111P 0040


Svaneke on the island of Bornholm in Denmark. Svaneke, Bornholm. The town has its own Bryghus (brewery) and ‘silde rōgeri’ (herring smoker) for a smoked herring with radishes and raw egg yolk on rye bread. A must.


Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 20.58.47


My secret spot is Åkulla bokskogar, it is such a beautiful forrest just outside Varberg in Halland (west coast of Sweden). http://www.akullabokskogar.nu

Nearby is also Borrås skåra http://www.borrasskara.se

(it’s like a crack in the mountain) where they filmed parts of Ronja Rövardotter.


The best location for a lovely day out on the beach in Norway would most definitely be at Ingierstrand Bad just a little bus or car ride away from Oslo it is a little hidden gem that most tourists never get to see. If your not dressed too casually (not in a bikini that is) the lovely Ingierstrand Bad Restaurant with its historic people’s house history and funky architecture is also based there and they serve delicious sea food with a view to die for.



Mountain climbing for everyone, close to Hoga Kusten, great experience with lovely scenery – go there and see for yourself!


Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 21.01.56


My secret place to go and visit: It’s a restaurant called “Möruddens brygga” that is on Hammarö (close to my home town Karlstad). They re-opened a few years ago and is located near by Sweden’s biggest lake “Vänern”. They serve delicious seafood and is one of my very special places because of the scenery and food.




Castle and beach – a great spot for all three days of Swedish west coast summer!




One of my favourite places in Stockholm (especially in the summer time) is called Loopen. It is a bit hidden but lies on a bridge by the water in Hornstull. It is a Caribbean restaurant and turns into a dance place at night! Surrounded by palm trees and water it feels like you are in the Caribbean!
Here is the link: www.loopen.se


Reasons the Nordic countries win when it comes to Christmas

November 14, 2014 | 3 Comments

We have snow. Real snow. Lots of real delicious fluffy picture postcard snow.


Our countryside looks like this


Santa is from up here.


Okay, so we can’t quite agree where he actually lives. The Danes believe he lives on Greenland. The rest think he lives in Lapland. Or in Finland. Or both. We do know, however, that he lives up here somewhere. He’s one of us.

Father Christmas actually visits us for real. None of this ‘He’ll turn up while you’re asleep’ nonsense: We wait on Christmas eve and there he is. Okay, sometimes he’s had too much glögg, sometimes he looks like your Uncle Björn. Sometimes both. But he’s there, at your house.

We have Christmas elves.


Actually, we have house elves all year round, but we believe in them mostly at Christmas time. Little mini elves with red Christmas hats – Lady elves, male elves… They live in our houses and barns and we put food out for them at Christmas time, because if we don’t, every idiot knows they’ll hide the remote control for the rest of the year.

We get to celebrate a day earlier than everybody else.

Our Christmas is 24th December in the evening. Some say this stems from Viking times when we believed a new day started as the sun went down – meaning at sun down on Christmas eve, we can celebrate. While everybody else has to wait until morning.

We have Julebryg.


Delicious, amazing Christmas beer from Denmark. The fourth best selling beer in Denmark – despite only being on the market 10 weeks of the year. We have that, it’s a thing. Try it.

We have Glögg


Red noses, red cheeks, sneaky kisses under the mistletoe.

It’s also our thing. No, not mulled wine. We don’t add drabs of left over stuff to our glögg, nor do we add half a litre of orange juice. No. We carefully blend spices, sugar and red wine… heat it up and add secret yuletide cheer to every pot. Why is Glögg so much better than mulled wine? Cardamom, pomerans, cinnamon cloves, ginger are the scents of a truly Scandinavian Christmas.


Lucky us, we escape the turkey. Instead we have succulent roast pork… Or delicious sweet ham with mustard. Or dried lamb sticks. Or fish preserved in lye. Eh, yeah, lye. But it’s delicious.

Pigs: Little pigs made of marzipan. Without these, nobody can win the prize in the almond game.

We hide an almond in the Christmas dessert. Find it and get the pig and status of Marzipan Pig Winner. It’s prestigious.

A real tree


Real, like, from the real forest. We don’t do plastic.

No tinsel.

We do clean lines, silver, gold and red. We don’t do flimsy tinsel.

90th Birthday party

Okay, this is New Year, but it’s as important as everything else. It’s a 10 minute sketch from yonks ago. We like to watch it every year. The same sketch, the same exact one. We always laugh. Its shown the same time every year. Okay, it’s a bit odd…

Donald Duck

We like to watch the same old seventies Donald Duck show, every year. At 4 pm on Christmas Eve. Everybody, the same time, every household (at least in Sweden). Also agree this may be a bit odd. In Norway, they watch ‘3 nuts for Cinderella’ instead which is a really old 1980’s Czech Tv movie about Cinderella and her, eh, three nuts.

Tree dancing

We hold hands and dance around the real Christmas tree. Together. The tree has real candles on it and someone usually singes their hair a bit. It all adds to the smell of Christmas.



13th December each year, we have the day of St Lucia, the festival of light. Boys and girls dress in white long robes and form processions in every town, bearing candles. This is the darkest night – and the darkest morning, broken by the bearing of light to fend off the darkness and dark spirits. We drink glögg, a girl is the town’s Lucia Bride and everybody knows it’s Christmas again.

Ginger biscuits.

We own those. They are ours. We rule at ginger thins.

Saffron buns.


Swedes go nuts for anything with saffron, especially saffron buns. But other products containing saffron sell out too. Chocolate with saffron, other pastries with saffron. You can probably get saffron shampoo, too. Maybe. And saffron meatballs. Actually, that sounds gross.



Little apple pancakes with no apples in them. So, like, doughballs. Dipped in sugar and jam. Danes go nuts for these. A great way to ensure you can have another Christmas beer.


The Swedish Christmas coke. Outsells coke in Sweden every year. Coca Cola hates that. Swedes loves that. And nobody outside Sweden understands the obsession with Julmust.


See above but replace Sweden with Norway. Norway’s Christmas soda. It’s a Norwegian thing.

Iceland has 13 different Santas.

Not content with just one, Iceland has 13 Santas, each one a Santa for a different reason and cause. Skyr Santa, Sausage Santa, Door slamming Santa and many more.

Christmas lasts a long time after Christmas.

We don’t put up our decorations until December. We don’t overdo it in the shops. We don’t put up the tree until we need it. And we don’t take it down on the 26th, either. We keep the tree until well into January sometime.

Fra alle os til alle jer:

God (for)Jul