The Swedish Culture

The Swedish Flag
The Swedish Flag

Personal Response

The Swedish culture is concentrated on hospitality and happiness. Making guests comfortable and being curteous and
polite is a big part of their life. Although my family kids around alot, we are much the same. Some surface culture
of Swedish culture could be: unique architecture, general hospitality, the smorgasbord, or shaking hands when greeting.
Some of the deeper culture of Swedish traditions include: maintaining eye contact while shaking hands, bringing a gift
when invited over, always refer to host by their full title, younger people move to a first name basis quicker than
the elderly, or the importance of personal space. One stereotype of the Swedish is that they are all blonde, blue eyed,
and tall. While these are common aspects, they obviously dont apply to everyone. Another is that they live in igloos
and there are polar bears everywhere. Yes, it is quite cold in Sweden, but they are just as developed as the US, and
polar bears only live in the North Pole, so their not in Sweden.


The official language of Sweden is Swedish and is spoken by most people living there. One of the minority languages
is Saami, which is spoken in the northern region, and is actually Finnish. Also, there are a number of Romanies in
Sweden that speak Romani. Influences on the Swedish language have come from German, Latin, and Danish.


Most of Swedes are Lutheran, making up 87% of the religious population. The other 13% is a mix of Roman Catholic,
Orthodox, Jewish, Buddhist, Baptist and Muslim. Traditional weddings take place in a church. Most kids are baptized
at birth, about 70%, and the Church of Sweden carries out nearly all funerals.Over the past few decades the percent of
Swedes attending church has dropped dramatically. In the last 35 years its dropped by 23%.


School starts very early for the Swedish. From age 1-5, all children are guaranteed a spot in daycare. When they turn
6, preschool begins. After this, it is mandatory that all kids attend school through ninth grade. After ninth they may choose
to either continue with another 3 years, until 11 grade, or stop at 9. 63% of students remain throughout 11th grade. Beyond
that is an optional 2-5 years of college, and then out into the real world.


Like America, Sweden celebrates Christmas and Easter. But unlike us they have Advent and Lucia.


The 4 week period directly preceding Christmas in which a candle is lit every Sunday is know as Advent. This is a
time for festive decorations and activities. More Swedes attend church on the first Sunday of Advent then any other
day of the year. During the service they sing well know Yuletide hymns.


Beggining on December 13, is an important holiday in Sweden. One girl from each household is chosen as a Lucia
(Queen of Light) to carry out the tradition. The Lucia is dressed in a white gown and wears a crown that has candles
in it. Followed by her attendants, also dressed in white, she bring things like coffe, ginger biscuits, and rolls. During
this time all they children will sing tradition Lucia carrols.
The Lucia and Choir
The Lucia and Choir


One of Swedens more well know cuisines is a 'smorgasbord'. This literaly means 'open sandwich table', but offers much
more than that. On a traditional smorgasbord one might find herring, Swedish meatballs, salmon, pie, salad, eggs, bread,
potatos, and so on. In older times this was an appetizer to the main course, but has come to be the main meal. Rarely
does a guest request more after having tried all items on a smorgasbord. Other common and traditional foods include
crayfish, pea soup, Pytt i panna (fried diced meat topped with potatos and onions), pastries, coffe, and Surströmming,
which is salted Baltic Herring.
A Smorgasbord
A Smorgasbord


For a woman, customarial clothes were dresses, taght around the torso and open and loose around the legs, extending
all the way to the ground. Loose sleeves that come out to the hands were part of the dress, and there may have been a
small hood. For the men, a vest with either pants or knee length pants that tied off and tall socks were appropriate.
Traditional Female
Traditional Female
Traditional Male
Traditional Male


Many festive decorations in the Swedish household are not native to the country. The gingerbread house, for example,
was brought to Europe by an Armenian monk. The concept of bringing the tree inside the house came from Germany.
From an economical standpoint, many workers are employed by other countries. For example, the company my dad
works for has outsourced to Sweden and established new offices there, as well has hire Swedish employees here in America.

Physical Geography

Because Swedens upper half is dominated by a huge expanse of snow covered forest, mose of its people live in the southern
have, concentrated around the coasts. The cold weather there leaves most people in warm clothing, like thick sweaters and vests.
Game like bandy have become popular because of the availabe ice.

external image sweden_map.gif

Gender Roles

Sweden has a shockingly high standard of gender equality, leading the developed world

in percentage of females in technical and professional occupancies. Women make up 43%

of parliamentarians and 50% of cabinet ministers.


"Holiday Traditions of Sweden." Traditions. MAYACO, Web. 1 Jan. 2010.

"Geography of Sweden." How Stuff Works. HowStuffWorks, Inc, Web. 1 Jan. 2010.
"Food and Drink." Smorgasbord. Kamerareportage, Web. 1 Jan. 2010.
Gan, Delice, and Leslie Jermyn. Cultures of the World: Sweden. Print.