The swedish culture to me is something very strange, it holds a lot of contradiction. I love and ‘dislike’ it at the same time (it’s only ‘a tad’ odd sometimes.) I love living in this country, but as with many other countries, it’s got some cultural twists, even tough it’s very similar to the NL. Then again, how ‘normal’ is the Netherlands? In order to explain it, I decided to turn this into a weekly thing. So here’s my first part of a rambling foreigner analysis.
‘t-is the season
In Sweden it’s always a holiday. You can’t come up with it or IT’S A HOLIDAY. You have the traditional christian holidays celebrated everywhere else (Christmas, Easter, etc.) but here they like to take things a bit further. Swedes are know to not be religious, although they can be spiritual (more on this later), but in essence they don’t believe in Christ. Yet they love to be free and take advantage of the days out of his name. There’s Allhelgona (All saints), Advent, Ascension Day and Pentecost. Now growing up in holland,I’m sort of used to these ‘free ‘ days. Swedes love advent and christmas, but only celebrate christmas eve (whereas I celebrate eve, day and the 2nd christmas day: I think this is a dutch thing). But then you also have the Swedish National day, the Worker’s day, Labour day and of course New Years’. Still these are to be overseen. But then…. Swedes make up holidays for no particular speciality. Basically everything gives reason to celebrate a holiday.
There’s International Kannelbulle day (yes) and Waffle Day (still not kidding), Midsummer’s day, Valborg and Santa Lucia. Valborg is to celebrate the start of spring, midsummer’s to celebrate… well, the sun and summer, and Santa Lucia, is the festivity and honouring of light. Which is this below. Singing in general is a thing here (also more on this later)Yes, those are burning candles on her head. No, there are no words. Normally the church is full, just imagine making one wrong move then
Swedes are also NOTORIOUS for their red days. Out of the blue, for no specific reason what so ever, there can be another red day. Obviously, most of the previously mentioned days are included. What strikes me most is that with red days, Swedes tend to get the day before the actual holiday is, also off. They either work until noon, or not at all. You know, just to prepare for the hard day to come. And as usual everything will be closed. Which is just so incredibly nice when you’ve just cycled through 4 km of snow to get the damn booze in the systembolaget. For example, also midsummer’s day is typically used to be hungover from the midsummers evening party, where they, by the way, hop around a flowery cross-pole. So basically the 21st is the party, and the actual holiday on the 22st is to recover.
In general the summers are strange. Some companies just close completely (uh hello?! Aren’t you supposed to run a business?). Governmental agencies? make it 2 months, hell take a couple of days out of your vacationdays and we make it three. And let’s not forget the klämdagar, the loose days in between holidays, ‘you know ‘mam, you get those off too!’. Universities and schools are closed from 1st of June until the end of august, some even stop the end of May. How can they do this? I still haven’t figured it out, but I’m honestly too afraid to ask.
Yes, it’s a tough life here, with all those holiday days to prepare for. Just make sure, if you ever decide to come to Sweden for a trip, to check the holiday calender. Wouldn’t want to encounter dead-silence (unless that’s your thing).