How to be Swedish, even if you’re not in Sweden – A quick guide.
- So, you want to be Swedish? You don’t need to go to Sweden to be Swedish – just follow this quick do-it-at-home guide and you’ll be saying jo-jo at the beginning of every sentence before you know it.
1. Drink a lot of coffee.
Even if you think you drink a lot of coffee, double it right now and still not out-do the average Swede. We drink more coffee than anyone in the world, (except the Finns). Go for strong filter coffee.
2. When you get up in the morning, follow this ritual:
2 slices of crisp bread, 1-2 boiled eggs, a squirt of Kalles creamed cod roe with your eggs. Some sliced cheese, if you are feeling fancy. Drink a large glass of milk. Coffee.
3. How to slice the above cheese
Using the designated correct slicer for the job, you always follow the slicing rules: DO NOT MAKE A SLOPE. This is a cardinal sin. Simply slice a bit from each side every time and the cheese will stay level. If it’s not level, you lose 3 Swedify points.
4. Every time someone says anything about anything, just say: in Sweden, we have that. Except ours is better.
Your friend: Oh, taste these lovely British crisps I just bought.
You: We have these in Sweden, too, except ours are dill flavoured. And better.
5. Fika a lot.
At least twice a day, stop what you are doing and go get another coffee. Sit down. Eat a cinnamon bun. Talk to others who are doing the same. This is now something you do twice a day for the rest of your life. It’s called Fika. It’s a noun and a verb, so you can meet for a fika or you can fika with someone. Never ever use another word for it, such as “coffee break”, because it just won’t do. Always say fika. See point 4.
6. Cinnamon buns
Because you are now eating two a day, learn to make them properly, because Swedes bake at home. If you ever add any kind of icing on top of cinnamon buns, go back to Swedish School: you just lost the game.
7. Swedify your apartment or personal space.
Paint everything white (walls, doors, floors… everything). This is your canvas on which to express yourself. Add a few block colours, maybe some Poäng chairs or tastefully selected ikea key pieces with names such as DalaBördiholm or something (laugh that all things you step on in Ikea have Danish names). Add some cushions with tasteful Swedish patterns. Add candles everywhere, ready to go as soon as darkness falls.
8. Make your Swedish dinner
Meatballs with mash and gravy is too stereotypical. Instead, the real Swedish the national dish: Kottbullar & Snabb Makroner. SnabbMakroner is basically quick-cook pasta. Because real Swedes refuse to wait 8 minutes for pasta to cook, so they invented one that cooks in 3 (See point no 4). Add Köttbullar meatballs, squirt Felix Ketchup all over the plate and award yourself another 5 Swedify points.
9. Eat in the dark
As a Swede, you will know that eating in the dark is quite normal. So, as soon as darkness falls, light 20-30 candles and turn off all electric light (keep heating at 24 degrees, which is natural indoor Swedish temperature). This is to be referred to as ‘mysigt’, or ‘really cosy’. At any time where darkness falls, do this, especially when eating, even if you can’t see your quick cook pasta with ketchup.
10. Schedule your washing time.
It’s a Swedish thing, tvättstugatid, or ‘booked washing machine time’ – because if you live in an apartment in Sweden, you have shared laundry rooms. Feel more Swedish by doing this at home – just write a note and stick it to your washing machine. Put all your clothes in a blue ikea bag, go to the machine at your allotted time and loudly sigh when you find your flatmate has rudely taken the machine when you’ve so Swedishly pre-booked it. 3 points.
11. Announce when you need to pee.
It really is a thing. At a board meeting in the city? Stand up and confidently announce: “Jag musta kissa” (I need to wee), leave the room and do not look the least bit embarrassed. You’ve just earned 5 Swedify points, my friend.
12. It’s Friday night. Your friends are going out.
You plan to stay in and do Cosy Friday, Fredagsmys . This involves opening a large bag of dill crisps, adding these to a large bowl. Make some ‘dip mix’ (mix spices with exotic names such as holiday mix with crème fraiche; stir) and dip every crisp before eating. Don’t forget to do all this in the darkness.
For extra Swede points, start every Friday evening by eating homemade tacos. Only ever do this on Fridays, tacos are only for Fridays.
13. It’s Saturday. You go to the shop and buy a bag of pick’n’mix.
Because from now on, you only eat sweets on Saturdays and you refer to it as Lördagsgodis: Saturday sweets (by definition, you then can’t eat it on other days). Stay in and watch things like På Spåret, which is the best thing on Swedish TV, except for Melodifestivalen (Swedish Eurovision). Don’t forget to tell everybody you hate Eurovision, but watch it anyway.
Anytime anyone says anything about football, realise you can’t really compete, but just add at the end of every sentence:
“We have this guy called Zlatan. We don’t need a full team to win anymore”.
At any other given opportunity, explain the off side rule for handball or ice hockey into conversation to give yourself the edge on Swedish Popular Sports.
15. Keep fit like a Swede.
When you realise that 2 buns a day isn’t going to be guilt free, take up any or all of the following:
Skiing, cross country skiing, walking, hill walking, stick walking, Nordic walking, stock Nordic walking, dog walking, walking Nordic dogs… Or anything that requires you to go outside and get rosy cheeks on two legs. During these outdoor pursuits, do not engage in conversation with strangers, other than a quick ‘dag’ grunt. Always make sure you wear a mössa, a woolly hat.
If you need to queue, do it like a Swede. At bus stops, ensure at least 2 safety metres between you and the closest stranger to you. Do not make conversation, not even about the weather. Ask your local shop to re-install the ticket queuing machines that went out of fashion here in 1987 – because Swedes need these so they don’t have to stand in line (see issue with bus stop queuing and safety metres). See point 4, if in doubt of this particular practise.
Congratulations, you are now a bit more Swedish.