Before I ever set foot in Sweden I knew for sure that Swedes were socialists, that they drank themselves to death and that they had sex anywhere at any time. Now that I’ve been here for a few years I know that only one of these is true. – Colin Moon
Last year I read the book In the secret garden of Sweden, in which communications expert Colin Moon looks at everyday ‘normal’ things in Sweden from a different perspective. While I don’t agree with all of his observations on us Swedes, I must say many of them were spot on.
Swedes always talk about the weather
We do. At least frequently. With such distinct seasons and at times unpredictable changes in weather, we have a lot of sub-topics to draw from.
Swedes don’t like to brag
I feel uncomfortable bragging and I bet the majority of Swedes feel the same. We would much rather let our accomplishments speak for themselves. It’s considered tasteless to brag about your achievements or how financially successful you are.
Every Swedes mobile phone call starts with the obligatory question “Where are you?”
And if not “where are you?”, we ask “what are you doing?”.
In the summer, Swedes ignore dress-codes and walk around semi-naked
Pretty much true. Travel to Malmö, Båstad, Halmstad or any other city in southern Sweden during the summer and you will understand what Colin means.
Swedes will ask you about weekend plans as early as Wednesday afternoon
On Monday and Tuesday, we have the whole week in front of us. But on Wednesday, the weekend is basically here.
When a Swede says anything with the word ‘process’ on the end, you know that the whole procedure is going to take some time
Correct. The decision making process in Sweden takes time.
“Let me have some time to think about it. I’m not really sure. It depends. What I can do now is give you a definite maybe.” – a Swedish boss
If Swedes skipped their coffee breaks, they could retire five years earlier
A funny guesstimation. We do enjoy our coffee breaks. Very. Much.
Swedes like to be in time and on time
Nearly all of us value punctuality and dislikes those who show up late.
Swedish teenagers express a burning desire to be different by dressing exactly the same
I couldn’t help but laugh when I read this. Looking back, I remember the majority of my friends shopped in the same clothing stores – that someone wore an identical skirt/top/sweater/dress as you was more a norm than a rarity.
Swedes are the world’s greatest individualists
For Swedes, independence is important. According to the World Values Survey by American sociology professor Ronald Inglehart, no other country is as individually oriented as Sweden. Family is important but we believe that relationships between people have to be based on equality. Real love can only be possible if one partner isn’t dependent on the other.
A typically Swedish person is bureaucratic, inflexible and indecisive
Yes. Pretty much so.
Swedes will gladly talk about their aches and pains as many times as possible
Unfortunately I have found this to be true (and I was once one of them).
Swedes are good and safe drivers
I couldn’t agree more.
Apart from these and other observations, Colin Moon shares misconceptions such as that all Swedish girls have blonde hair and blue eyes (far from true), different quotes on Swedes, and various facts about Sweden.
“Golf and sex are the only two things Swedes can enjoy without being any good at them.” – A Swedish golf-player
“At the time of the writing 276,131 were called Johansson – the most common family name in Sweden.”
I would love to have a less ordinary name. Like ‘Summer. I was born in the summer and I love summer, so what name could be better!?
“Every year, evening papers print pages and pages with complete details of the income, tax bills and wealth status of the rich and famous.”
I haven’t been included on any of these lists.
“Swedes have a fair share of public holidays. In a good year they take as many days off in May and June as most Americans take in a year.”
And this we are incredibly grateful for.
“A well-known recipe book, Sju sorters kakor (Seven types of cake) is outsold only by the bible.”
I read this book on several occasions as a kid.
If a stranger smiles at a Swede in the street, he or she is either a) drunk b) insane c) American
Not far from true but people do smile at each other more and more these days – without getting accused of being neither of the above.
Well written, excellently researched and repeatedly amusing, In the secret garden of Sweden offers an insight into Swedes’ habits and the Swedish culture.