Swedes, just as citizens from any other nation, are afraid of … certain things. To understand the Swedish psyche a little bit better, read the following list of “phenomenas” that many Swedes feel very uncomfortable with.
Having eye contact with a stranger for more than 0.2 seconds
Longer eye-contact time is only accepted if the stranger at question is a bus driver, sales assistent or very good looking creep.
To avoid this kind of highly intimate behaviour, Swedes relish the arrival of recent technological progress in modern society. Two developments in particular on which they now can rest their eyes on, instead of having to look at each other: their mobile phones and pavements.
More about Swedish culture and quirks, read my new book How to be Swedish: A Quick Guide to Swedishness – In 55 Steps
Of course everyone hates diseases. Actually, I have never met anyone who was healthy and expressed the wish for getting one. (Apart from students, one day before an important exam maybe.)
There are less dangerous illnesses and more dangerous ones. One of the less harmful diseases, but hated like a nasty one, in Sweden, is magsjuka. The stomach flu. Yeah, that unwell-being in your belly from which the expression “shit storm” derives.
If you want to make sure that your annoying friends or colleagues stay away from you, just say “I guess I have magsjuka”. For several days, you'll experience peace and loneliness.
Another way to distance yourself from the people around you in Sweden: open a can of Surströmming.
Some Swedes already have started to accept the near future loss of their strategically important located island Gotland. The country that owns this island has access to sheep with superior hair growth.
Gotland is the kingdom of excellent wool. Other countries in the cold north also want excellent wool. Which is why these countries might aspire an invasion in order to dominate the world wide wool warket, erm, market.
Not instantly returning a financially valuable favour
Swedes are unbelievably strict when it comes to memorising any favour they have received from anyone who is not considered one of their parents.
Try this! Invite a Swede for a beer in a pub. If there is little chance that you will ever meet that person again, you can expect that at some point during the night they come back to you with a beer in their hand, forcing you to accept and drink it. This behaviour, helps Swedes to feel free from skuld, guilt of having taken an advantage on someone else’s behalf.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But wait! This also means, that Olof, who helped you repairing the engine of your car back in autumn 2009 still remembers it and – according to Swedish common sense – has the right to ask you to hand back the favour and help him paint the facade of his house (for at least the same amount of time he invested into fixing your car.)
So, remember, an invitation in Sweden is basically the same as a temporary loan.
The destruction of nature
Swedes are obsessed with nature as much as Winnie the Pooh is obsessed with honey. Except, Swedes like to share their valuable resources and commodities with their fellow country men. A law called “allemansrätt” makes it possible for every Swede to camp for one night at any location in public nature. Yes! Take your tent and sleep at any place in Sweden where you don’t have to climb over a fence, basically. And enjoy the vast nature!
Because Sweden’s flora and fauna are so lovely and supply Swedes with energy, water and wood to build their cute little red houses with, they hate everything that pollutes the air, any company that wastes valuable resources and any neighbour who doesn’t care about waste sorting.
Yet, some stingy Swedes welcome climate change. With the right amount of heat and humidity they can finally plant palms in their garden and won’t have to travel to Thailand anymore. Fewer airplane flights, less pollution.
More about Sweden and the Swedes
- Gift ideas for Sweden lovers
- Travel to Sweden – tips and recommendations
- Learn Swedish, fast
- Swedish fashion
- My Sweden pictures, on Instagram @hejsweden