1. Midsummer is the grandest and possibly most important celebration of the year. We celebrate this fabulous day by hopping like frogs around a giant flower ornament representing a phallus, singing “the little frogs, the little frogs, so jolly to look at”. And then we eat rotten herring from a tin.
2. People from the capital of Stockholm, the so-called “08’s” are hated by everyone else in Sweden, especially the residents of Gothenburg. This hatred is met by indifference by the 08’s, which adds immensely to the tension.
3. On the 13th of December Sweden celebrates “Lucia day”, often by dressing up a child in a long white gown and a crown of Christmas lights. She then walks down along an aisle, followed by the less important “Lucia-maids” and “Star-boys” also dressed in white. This could unfortunately easily be mistaken for a ku klux klan procession by an outsider. One of the songs sung during the procession starts with “we’re coming from Gingerbreadland”, and has been banned from some schools as it could be considered racist.
4. Although fast food is not as endorsed as in the UK, you will find just about anything on a tube. The most popular tube-food is “kaviar”, which should not be mixed up with Beluga or other luxury caviar, but is simply a cheap fish roe spread used on bread or eggs. Other tube food includes mackerel in tomato sauce, crayfish-cream cheese and reindeer-cream cheese.
5. One of the most popular pizzas is kebab-pizza. No comments.
6. At 3 pm on Christmas Eve, an average of 3.5 million people in Sweden sit down and watch “Donald Duck and His Friends Celebrate Christmas”. Yes, that’s almost more than one third the population. Presumably the other two thirds are in Thailand (Swedes go to Thailand a lot).
7. Stockholm is an extremely international city and its citizens were born in 193 different countries.
8. You thought Eurovision was a one-day-fun-day occurrence? In Sweden it’s a religion. Preparations start the day after the Eurovision Finale and stretch over the course of the year. The initial 4 rounds of the competition take place during February, from which the 2 singers/bands with the most votes go through to the finals, and the 2 competitors with the third and fourth most votes go through to the “Second Chance”. The Second Chance consists of three parts: in the first part, three competitors are eliminated, leaving five in the running. The second part consists of a voting session which will eliminate one further competitor. In the third part, the remaining singers “duel” and the 2 winners go through to the finale. The winner of the finale goes to Eurovision, and we always think we will win. If we don’t win there’s a conspiracy against us. Every year.
9. The latest vegetarian-statistics assert that 10% of the Swedish population is now vegetarian. Good news for animals.
10. The Swedish birthday song consists of an unknown number of verses, pretty much describing the birthday kid’s impending death, including “when he’s lived for one hundred years, he shall be pushed on a wheelbarrow, and when he’s been pushed on a wheelbarrow he will be hung backwards on a horse, and when he’s been hung he will be drowned in bottle of Champagne…and THEN we’ll celebrate”.
11. To get your Swedish driver’s license you will have to answer 65 questions in the theory test, including “When is Elk season?” and “How fast can snow scooters drive?”.
Sweden truly is a remarkable country. Come visit us soon!