Sweden Culture and Food

Typical Sweden

A holiday home in Sweden

Many Swedish families own a holiday home. This is mostly due to a lake or the sea. One spends the weekends there and especially the summer holidays. The holiday home is called Stuga in Swedish. Often the Stuga is a wooden house. It is traditionally painted in Falun red, which we also call Swedish red. Falun is a place in Sweden that had a copper mine. There the dye for the color Falun red was obtained.

The dala horse

A wooden figurine depicting a horse is the most common souvenir that tourists buy in Sweden. It is the dala horse. It comes from the province of Dalarna in central Sweden, but has become a typical symbol for all of Sweden abroad. The horses are painted red. The saddle and bridle are painted on.

Pippi Longstocking, Michel and Karlsson from the roof

You probably know them too: Pippi Longstocking, Michel from Lönneberga, the children from Bullerbü, Lotta from Krachmacherstrasse, Ronja the robber’s daughter and Karlsson from the roof. A Swedish writer invented them all: Astrid Lindgren. She lived from 1907 to 2002. She grew up near Vimmerby in Småland. In her books you can also learn a lot about life in Sweden in the past. Some things are still there today, for example Köttbullar is Karlsson’s favorite dish.

You instead of you!

In Sweden all people use their terms. Until the 1970s it was common to address older people by name in the third person, because there was no form like “Sie”. For example, you would say: “Would you like some more tea?” (Instead of: “Would you like some more tea?”). At some point you started to stop saying that and instead using you, saying you to everyone. Only the king and his family are passed!

Sweden Culture

Eating in Sweden

What do Swedes like?

In Sweden people like to eat hearty home-style cooking. This includes meatballs, which are called Köttbullar here. Cheese and sausage on bread are just as tasty as reindeer or elk meat. Of course, fish is also eaten on the coast. Berries and mushrooms grow in the forests and are gladly collected and consumed. Swedes particularly love sweets.

At parties, the Smörgåsbord is served, a cold buffet. The word translated means “bread and butter table”. For Christmas the buffet is then called Julbord: Christmas table.

Oatmeal porridge as a fruit food

Breakfast is called Frukost in Sweden. Bread or rolls with cheese and sausage is a typical breakfast of this type. There is also juice, milk, tea or, for the adults, coffee. The Swedes are champions when it comes to drinking coffee!

There can also be filmjölk, a sour sour milk. You mix them with oatmeal, berries, jam or cinnamon and sugar. Oatmeal porridge with milk is the Havregrynsgröt.

Lunch and Middag

There is lunch at noon. This is not pronounced in English here, but just like “Lunsch”. This is the main meal and usually a warm meal. For example, Jansson’s frestelse, a potato casserole, or the meatballs (Köttbullar), which are eaten with cranberry compote, sauce and boiled potatoes or mashed potatoes, are popular. According to an old tradition, pea soup is always eaten on Thursdays and then pancakes. By the way, children eat for free at lunchtime at school! Dinner is called – confusing for us – Middag or Kvällsmat. It can be a light warm meal or bread.

Preserved: crispbread and more

The summers in Sweden are short and the winters long and cold. This is how people understood in earlier times how to preserve food. This is how the crispbread was invented in Sweden. It is dried after baking.

Salmon was preserved by rubbing it with salt and sugar and then burying it for several days. This is how gravlax was created.

Cinnamon rolls are called Kanelbullar here

The most typical pastry in Sweden is probably the cinnamon bun, the Kanelbulle. Several of them are then called Kanelbullar. On October 4th they even celebrate the day of the cinnamon bun. But even more sweet things you like to eat like, for example Semlor, princess cake, Chokladbollar and Spettekaka. You can see them in the photos below!

The Lucia Festival

Christmas includes the Lucia Festival, which is celebrated on December 13th. It is the day of the queen of lights. Originally, St. Lucia was commemorated on this day. The oldest daughter is the bride of Lucia. She wakes her family up in the morning and serves breakfast to everyone. She wears a long, white robe and a wreath with candles on her head. The Lucia girl and other girls dressed in white then go to schools, workplaces or offices and sing Lucia songs there. From this day on it is tradition to eat a lussekatter, a saffron pastry, every day until Christmas.