Tourist stereotypes about Swedes and Sweden

Five half-true stereotypes about Sweden

Not everything is so straightforward with stereotypical Swedes. In this post, I’ll list five cases where you can’t exactly say “it’s a myth” or “it is,” because it all depends on which way you look at it.

Swedes are dying out.

In a way, yes, the Swedes are dying out. With a fertility rate of 6.16, the Swedes are a long way from Angola.

But they are not dying out as fast as you might think. At least women give birth more often than in Russia.

I will just leave it here: France: 2.07 children per woman Sweden: 1.88 children per woman Great Britain: 1.88 children per woman Finland: 1.75 children per woman Denmark: 1.73 children per woman Russia: 1.61 children per woman Hungary: 1.45 children per woman

My daughter is the only one in her class who doesn’t have any brothers or sisters. Most of my Swedish friends have three children each, and they (the parents) don’t look mortally tortured. I think there are three main reasons for this:

  • The mother and father spend equally much time with the children (sitting on maternity leave, going to parent-teacher conferences, picking them up from school, playing sports);
  • it is customary to send children to kindergarten/kindergarten from the age of one and a half;
  • There is less outside pressure from outsiders. (The thought of “what the neighbors will think of my child, and therefore of me” simply does not arise. At least in relation to children).

Swedish children can walk around with a pacifier until they are 5 years old.

In recent years, there has been a tradition of saying goodbye to the pacifier by hanging it from a “special” tree.

I believe it. I haven’t seen it, but I believe it. Kids are pretty jealous, though, and when a baby brother or sister comes along, they often ask that their mom swaddle them, rock them, and give them a pacifier, too, just like the baby.

A Swedish parent simply won’t say, “You’re an adult.” He will try to rock in his arms, swaddle him, or give him a pacifier. The same applies to the stroller. Instead of dragging the child on his or her own, the parent will not hesitate to take the stroller.

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And if the baby in the stroller is too big … maybe it’s just … special.

Swedes are happy to adopt children from other countries

As of November 1, 2013, more than 22,000 children were in foster care, according to a report. Part of this may be due to the increased flow of refugees, among whom unaccompanied children are often found. The photo shows the 1930 Valbu orphanage from the Jevle archives. The photographer is unknown.

Only they cannot adopt a Swedish child. A Swedish child can only be adopted. There really are virtually no orphanages, but from my small circle of acquaintances, two people have taken children into foster care. This includes vacations and weekends together, trips, help mentally and financially. A classmate of my daughter’s got an unscheduled aunt, almost the same age, because her grandmother took on the patronage of a girl from a troubled family. After a while, the girl’s parents died and she was placed in foster care. And then the grandmother herself became old, it became difficult for her to look after the teenage girl and she handed her over to her daughter.

Relationships with children in foster care are often maintained for life. Such guardians become second parents: bonus dads and bonus moms. And bonus children, of course.

Swedes are neat and tidy.

I don’t know how they do it, but I still remember seeing an idyllic picture through a window decorated with Christmas lights: in a perfectly clean kitchen, a perfectly dressed dad was feeding a perfectly sitting baby of about seven months in a high chair.

Perhaps there was a broccoli apocalypse in the kitchen after I turned away. I don’t know.

Apartments can be very cluttered, but they can also be sterilely clean. Still…it turns my stomach every time another kid drops candy (without the wrapper!) at the bus stop right on the pavement, then picks it up and puts it in his mouth. Without even blowing it!

Preschoolers, by the way, all run around in frayed tights. No one’s died because they’re ripped, have they?

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Swedes are traditionalists.

For example, they’ll watch Donald Duck (Kalle Anka – a selection of Disney cartoon fugues) every Christmas since 1958. No, no kidding. Every year for the past half century, they’ve sat down in front of their televisions and watched Calle Anka. The list of cartoons is subject to slight changes – for example, about 30 years ago they deigned to translate some of the cartoons into Swedish. The country is dying out for this hour and a half. 36% of the population in front of their TV sets is a LOW rating for this program. Somehow they tried to cancel it. It’s always the same thing. – but Sweden rebelled. There was a storm of viewers and the program was put back on the air, but the editor-in-chief was soon fired.

That said, the “traditional” dish of Swedish cuisine would be tacos – they’re eaten on Fridays. And it’s much easier to buy a kebab, hamburger, pizza or sushi than a dish of national Swedish cuisine. I think part of the reason is that such food is much cheaper.

15 Myths about Sweden

White Moose

There are stereotypes about almost every country: Sweden is no exception. How true are they?

There is a specific set of beliefs about Sweden – and often they have nothing to do with reality.

1. Sweden is short for Switzerland.

It may sound ridiculous, but this is one of the most unsinkable hypotheses, as it is encountered by Swedes and Swiss alike. Every Swede has, at least once, answered a question about banks and cuckoo clocks during a trip abroad; every Swiss has listened to compliments about ABBA

. Moreover, the similarity between the names of the two countries was interpreted by some Swedes up to the 19th century as meaning that the Swiss are in fact descended from Scandinavians: this is particularly evident in Eric-Gustav Geyer’s immense work, The History of the Swedish People. This theory has no scientific basis and lives only in anecdotes – like the fact that Venice was founded by the Slavs, because the “Veneads” are the ancestors of the ancient Slavs.

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In reality, there is no close relationship between the two countries: the word “Switzerland” comes from the canton “Schwyz”, while Sweden, Sverige, is the “kingdom of the Sveans” (svea + rike), an ancient North German tribe.

2. Sweden is very small. Apart from Stockholm, there is nothing to see.

In fact, Sweden is the fifth largest country in Europe, larger than Germany and Great Britain. Yes, Stockholm is the most interesting city in Sweden and all of Scandinavia (Dear Copenhagen and Oslo, we are familiar with your point of view, you can describe it again in an e-mail to the editorial office of sweden.se marked “Nothing new” – ed. ). That said, the capital is not everything. Old university towns Uppsala and Lund, port city Gothenburg with its fish market and endless music festivals, Malmo, a megalopolis fusion of Swedish, Danish and other cultures – and these cities are not limited to the “Swedish province”: there are, for example, Vänerna and Melaren, one of the largest European lakes, a city-traveler Kiruna

with its ice hotel and the northern lights, ski resorts on the border with Norway and several archipelagos along the Swedish coastline. And a bonus for fans of “Game of Thrones” – the city of Verderos, which, incidentally, has nothing to do with the TV series or the book. But it stands on the shore of the lake Melaren and there is an impressive cathedral of XIII century.

3. Sweden is far away.

Another geographical myth. Moreover, you can reach Stockholm by plane or by an exotic way – for example, by ferry

from Finland, Estonia or Latvia.

Full moon in Stockholm. Photo: Hans Strand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

Winter Gothenburg. Photo: Per Pixel Peterson/imagebank.sweden.se

Northern Lights. Photo: Asaf Klieger/imagebank.sweden.se

In Sarek National Park. Photo: Fredrik Schleeter/imagebank.sweden.se

Full moon in Stockholm. Photo: Hans Strand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

Winter Gothenburg. Photo: Per Pixel Peterson/imagebank.sweden.se

Northern Lights. Photo: Asaf Klieger/imagebank.sweden.se

In Sarek National Park. Photo: Fredrik Schleeter/imagebank.sweden.se

Full moon in Stockholm. Photo: Hans Strand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

Winter Gothenburg. Photo: Per Pixel Peterson/imagebank.sweden.se

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Northern Lights. Photo: Asaf Klieger/imagebank.sweden.se

In Sarek National Park. Photo: Fredrik Schleeter/imagebank.sweden.se

4. It’s cold and dark in Sweden

Indeed, the lowest temperatures in Europe are recorded in Sweden – and indeed, if you go beyond the Arctic Circle in January, it will be dark there. But, for example, residents of St. Petersburg winter in Stockholm will seem soft – daylight in December, the same six hours, but the temperature will be a few degrees higher in winter and exactly the same as at home in the summer. Affects the Gulf Stream – warm Atlantic current reaches Scandinavia, not allowing the temperature in January and February to go below zero for a long time. And in the south of Sweden the Gulf Stream is a full-fledged master.

5. …And since it’s cold and dark, there are a lot of suicides.

The connection between cold climate and long dark nights and the number of suicides

per 100 thousands of population is not proved; moreover the inhabitants of some warm countries (in the Indian ocean basin and the Caribbean) are more inclined to suicide. If we take developed countries, then Japan, Finland and Belgium are ahead of Sweden, and in the general list of countries

with the highest number of suicides, Sweden ranks 51st. By comparison, Russia has 26.5 suicides per 100,000 people, Belarus has 21.4, Ukraine has 18.5, and Sweden has 11.7. The origin of this myth is partly explained by the fact that Sweden was the first country to keep reliable statistics on suicide, unlike more religious countries, where suicides were concealed and not discussed in any way.

6. All Swedes look alike – blue-eyed blondes.

Like any stereotype of national appearance, this is a big exaggeration. In addition to the fact that there are plenty of brunettes and redheads among the native population, Sweden is a multinational country where you can meet people of different skin colors and different backgrounds.

According to official statistics, nearly 20.0 percent of Sweden’s residents were born abroad. And a foreign background (people born abroad or born in Sweden to foreign parents) is found in 24% of the country’s population. Waves of migration to Sweden have been diverse: from the former Yugoslavia, Latin America, and the Middle East. And for a long time, until 2019, the largest ethnic minority in Sweden were Finns. Sweden has one of the longest and most successful experiences with migrants in today’s world: Migration is necessary for Sweden’s booming economy. Without it, Sweden would not have been able to maintain high economic growth rates for decades.

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Read more:

Migration: from the first person

Sweden and migration

Sweden’s national minorities

7. …Blue-eyed blondes drive a Volvo and listen to Abba

This view is somewhat outdated – in the mid-20th century, most Swedes drove Saab and Volvo, but a lot has changed since then: both Volvo is owned by the Chinese company Geely, and the Swedes themselves are eager to master a variety of cars. In 2016, the top selling brand in Sweden for the first time in 50 years was not the Volvo, but the German Volkswagen Golf

. Well, on the roads of Sweden, you can meet almost any car – from the incredibly popular summer sports cars to the Soviet “Niva”, which was actively supplied to Scandinavia in the 1970s and 1980s.

As for ABBA, it is a precedent for successful musical exports – success that came back from the outside. “But in Sweden itself contemporaries looked closer to the too brilliant four for many years (Abba was not even invited to the first Eurovision Song Contest in their own country, the right to conduct which the group provided the country with its victory). And only after the resounding international success, the Swedish general public accepted the pop band as one of their own.

ABBA has become the first and far from the last face of Swedish music export – Swedish artists, producers, and music services are highly regarded on the global music market. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania calculate that Sweden is the world’s leader in exporting hits, given the size of the country’s GDP. What’s nice.

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