Local traditions and culture in Sweden

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Sweden

  • DSwede's Profile Photo

    Long Summer Nights and Appropriate Curtains

    by DSwede Updated Jul 24, 2011

    After trying to spend the last few weeks sleeping in the long summer days of Scandinavia, I was starting to get frustrated that every hotel, hostel, cabin, etc. had curtains that barely blocked out the light.

    I had seen long days in the northern parts of Canada and Alaska before, but not for extensive periods of time, so it was starting to effect my sleep.

    It was explained by a local friend that the curtains are very thin such that the light comes in. The winters are so long and dark, that they wish to take advantage of all the light and keep it close in mind so they do not forget its warmth when the long cold dark of winter sets in.

    When followed up by questions about thicker curtains possibly being better insulators to keep heating costs down, this was dismissed by a simple reply that a couple more blankets on the bed would fix that.

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    The right of public access in general

    by sim1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The right of public access (allemansrätten) is a unique right that we have in Sweden (there are similar systems in Norway and Finland). It is alike for Swedes and for from visitors from abroad. In short it means that everyone has the right to be out in the countryside. You can use and enjoy all natural spaces in Sweden, whether it is privately owned or by the government.

    But the right of public access is a freedom for all. The main rule is that you don't damage the landscape or animal life, and you must show consideration for both landowners and for everyone else that is out and about in the countryside.

    In short: Do not disturb, do not destroy.

    So this is the right of public access in general, but what does it mean for you? I'll try to explain a little bit more about it in my next few tips.

    You can read about the rules in more detail on this website: http://www.allemansratten.se/ (available in Swedish, English and German)

    Hiking around S��len

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    The right of public access: camping

    by sim1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The right of public access is great for backpackers and people travelling on a budget. The rules for camping are simple: It is allowed to camp in the countryside for one or two nights in the same place. But there are some restrictions. It is only allowed if you are not disturbing the landowner, or the local people. You are not allowed to put up your tent near homes, farm building or on farmland. These rules do not apply for groups; they need special permission. Other exceptions to the general rule are also national parks and nature reserves. Camping with a caravan also has extra restrictions to these general rules.

    As you can see we didn't have any buildings close to us, no people being disturbed, it wasn't any farmland, the perfect spot to put up our tent for the night :-)

    Åke is expertly demonstrating a totally different type of right: "the right of public laziness". The rules are simple, hahaha, the sun must be shining and the tent must be set up before you get this right. After that you can be lazy as much as you want :-))

    The right of public laziness ??
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    The right of public access: berries

    by sim1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Let me give you another example of the right of public access (allemanrätten). You are allowed to pick berries or mushrooms in the countryside. But do remember that in areas protected by law, like national parks, nature reserves and historical sites, special rules apply.

    But in general this rule gives you a great opportunity to taste some of those delicious wild berries such as blue-, lingon- and cloudberries that you can see so much in the Swedish countryside.

    Picking berries
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    • Eco-Tourism

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    The right of public access: flowers

    by sim1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    You are allowed to pick wildflowers under the right of public access, but only the ones that don't have a protected status. Now here is where things might get very complicated. Some flowers are protected in one area, but not in another. Like this flower for instance, the Gullviva. In the part of Sweden where I live (Södermanlands Län) the flower is not protected as it is so common in this area. But in huge parts of Sweden this flower is protected.

    One flower is easy though: the orchid. All species of orchid are protected throughout Sweden, so you are not allowed to pick those. It is also not permitted to gather mosses and lichens in large quantities.

    If you are not sure about whether a flower or plant is protected or not, you can ask at the local tourist information. They will be able to help you out with some more info.

    These tips have only been a few examples of what the 'allemansrätten' or 'right of public access' in practise means. On the website mentioned below, you can read much more about it, like rules for hiking, boating, fishing, making a fire, dogs, etc, etc.

    Gullviva
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    • Eco-Tourism

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    The Systembolaget

    by sim1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    When you want to buy alcohol in Sweden, you have to go to the Systembolaget. The selling of alcohol in Sweden is state controlled and that means that you can only buy it in these stores. Every bigger city has at least one.

    The assortment of the systembolaget is huge, especially in the wine section. It's the world's largest importer of wine. There are 3000 standard articles in a regular shop and as many available by ordering. Everything is described in a 200 page catalogue.

    The prices are enormous too though :-(( The tax on alcohol is very high, making it very expensive to buy alcohol in Sweden. I think the only country that is more expensive is Norway. On my recent trip to Germany I discovered that the prices are about 3 times higher than the German ones. The only thing that is reasonable priced compared with the other alcoholic drinks is the wine.

    Shopping in the Systembolaget
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    Driving in Sweden

    by Maline Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Driving in the north of Sweden sometimes includes driving on ice-roads. When the temperature has been low for quite some time, the crossing of rivers can be done by car (!). However, only go on the marked trails.
    And did you know that when driving on ice you unbuckle your seat-belt, so that you can easily get out of the car, should the ice break.

    Otherwise the law in Sweden decides that everyone in the car, front seat and back seat must wear their seat-belts all the time. Otherwise there could be a fine, should you be stopped by the police.
    Also, drinking and driving is NOT allowed, it can cost you your license, and even a jail sentence. Keep the speed limits, esp important with the lower ones, driving 35 instead of 30 kilometres an hour might cost you a fine!

    For more information on driving in Sweden try the web-page listed below, there you will find everything about drivers licences etc, that you will need to know before embarking your vehicle.
    There is info in many languages.

    Seat belt on pls!
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    • Road Trip

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    Some beautiful Swedish music

    by maritagnes Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    You can download and listen to the beautiful song Koppången here: http://www.knopfler.net/mp3/koppangen.mp3 Sweden has a rich culture of Folk Music and Dance. The folk tunes often appear in the art music, as well.
    I particularly love much of the Swedish folk tunes, as they are generally in a lighter mood than my own country's, and still very sophisticated.
    Nyckelharpa (picture) is a unique instrument from Sweden. More about the nyckelharpa if you follow the link below.

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    24th December: Christmas time!

    by sim1 Updated Feb 24, 2010

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    Holidays & celebrations of Sweden
    24th December: Christmas time!


    God Jul! (Merry Christmas!)

    24th December : Christmas time! Not the 25th and 26th are the most important days for Swedes, but the 24th is the 'real' Christmas day!

    For me that is something to get used to, as I never considered the day of 'Christmas Eve' part of Christmas. That has never been a tradition for me. Hahaha, the 25th was the day to look out for! But I guess I am having Christmas a day early now :-)))
    This day, like a lot of other Swedes I visited the family in the morning, had a skinkmacka (ham sandwich) for lunch. Went home just in time to see the 3 o'clock Disney Cartoons, opened the presents and enjoyed the Julbord (Christmas dinner).

    The Swedish Christmas traditions are so unlike the typical Christmas that I expected: It's a day early, there is fish instead of turkey on the dinner table and a Jultomte (Christmas gnome) instead of a Santa (like in the Coca-Cola advertising saying HoHoHo) is bringing the presents. So as you can see this was quite a culture shock for me ;-))

    If you want to read more about the Swedish Christmas traditions, you can have a look at my Hedlandet page.

    24th December : Christmas time!

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    Swedish Festivals

    by hopang Updated Sep 17, 2009

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    1) Christmas Festival:-

    Lucia - celebrated on 13th December (not an official holiday).

    Christmas - celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ
    24th December (Christmas Eve) - public holiday
    25th and 26th December - public holidays.

    New Year - 31st December (New Year's Eve) is treated as a Saturday
    1st January - public holiday.

    Epiphany - celebrated to commemorate the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus. It is the 13th day after Christmas (6th January) and is the last holiday of Swedish Christmas festival.

    2) Easter - celebrated to commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and is the second of the major Christian festivals. It usually falls in March or April. Good Friday is a public holiday. Sunday and Monday are public holidays.

    3) Walpurgis Night - celebrated to welcome the return of spring. Bonfires are lit all over the country on 30th April.

    4) Ascension Day - celebrated to commemorate the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven. It is a Church festival and is celebrated 40 days after Easter and is always on a Thursday.

    5) Whitsun - celebrated ten days after Ascension Day. This is the day the Holy Ghost descended on the Apostles and the Christian church was founded.

    6) Sweden's National Day - falls on 6th June.

    7) Midsummer - celebrated to welcome the arrival of summer and falls on a weekend closest to 23rd June. The eve of Midsummer is always a Friday.

    8) All Saints' Day - celebrated in memory of the dead and falls on a Saturday in the beginning of November.

    Lighting for Christmas Festival
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Festivals

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    Allemansrätten (The right of Common Access)

    by hopang Updated Jul 23, 2009

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    Everyone living in Sweden enjoys certain rights and privileges in the countryside which is known as allemansrätten or the right of common access. The countryside is accessible to everyone living in Sweden provided you do not litter, cause any damages, cut down trees or bushes or disturb other people.

    You may pick mushrooms, berries and flowers which are not protected. But you are not allowed to touch or pick cultivated fruits and vegetables or walk into the cultivated fields and gardens without permission.

    You are not allowed to hunt for wild animals and birds. You normally require to apply for a licence to fish in the lakes and rivers.

    You are not allowed to drive motor vehicles including motor cycles and mopeds off the road or to pitch a tent too close to a house or a private property. Permission can be obtained from the landowners if you wish to pitch a tent for several days.

    City Forest in Uppsala
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Fishing
    • Camping

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  • PALLINA's Profile Photo

    Kräftskiva: lobsters, songs and snaps

    by PALLINA Updated Jan 28, 2009

    If you have the luck to be guest of a Swedish family in summer as I had, you can miss the Lobsters evening. (Kräftskiva). Small river lobsters are grilled, schnaps are drunk and traditional songs are sung. The amtosphere is great and if you can enjoy the light of the summer, even greater. Better not to drive after that :-)

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    • Family Travel
    • Food and Dining

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    Driving with mobile

    by PALLINA Updated Jul 25, 2008

    Surely everybody knows that Scandinavian rules for drunk drivers are really very severe and probably are as severe as in your country. But probably you dont know that Sweden is one of the few European countries where to drive while having a mobile phone in hand is not forbidden yet.

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    • Business Travel

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  • marielexoteria's Profile Photo

    Julmust

    by marielexoteria Updated Dec 6, 2007

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    Julmust (jul = Christmas, must = must) is a soft drink that we drink during Christmas. Wikipedia defines the must: "Must is made of carbonated water, sugar, hops extract, malt extract, spices, colouring (E150), citric acid, and preservatives. The hops and malt extracts give the must a somewhat beer-like taste, but must is not fermented and contains no alcohol. Must can be aged provided it is stored in a glass bottle."

    This yummy soft drink was created in the early 1900's as an alternative to beer by Robert and Harry Roberts, father and son. The syrup that gives the must its taste is made only in Roberts AB in Örebro.

    In December the consumption of must is so high that all other soft beverages drop in sales, esp. Coca Cola, who from 2004 started advertising their own version of must but they buy the syrup from Roberts AB.

    There are several brands of Julmust in the supermarkets, being Apotekarnes my personal favorite. Must is also sold during Easter with the name of Påskmust.

    Apotekarnes julmust (from carlsberg.se)
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    Holidays & celebrations of Sweden

    by sim1 Updated Nov 10, 2007

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    Holidays & celebrations of Sweden


    During the year we celebrate several usual and maybe to you a bit more unsual holidays:

    New Years Eve (31 December) and New Years Day (1st January)
    13 afton (6 January)
    20 Knut (13 January)
    Valborgsmässoafton/Walpurgis Night (30th April)
    1May
    långfredagen/Good Friday (The Friday before Easter)
    Easter (2 days: the Sunday and Monday closest after the full moon after the 21st of March)
    Kristi himmelfärdsdag/Ascension Day (The 6th Thursday after Easter)
    Pingst/Whitsuntide (The 7th Sunday after Easter)
    Nationaldagen/National Day (6th June)
    Midsommar (The Saturday between the 20th and 26th of June)
    Alla Helgons Dag (The Saturday between the 31st of October and 6th November)
    St.Lucia (13th December)
    Christmas Eve (24th December), Christmas day (25th December) and Boxing Day (26th December)

    In the next few tips you'll get a bit more info about the traditions surrounding these holidays.

    Fireworks o nthe 31st of December

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