It´s good to know a few standard tips and cultural quirks of the Swedes before your visit to Stockholm with us. Read this fun evaluation of an average Swede and see how much truth lies in the classic stereotypes of blonde-herring-Volvo-high-taxes-green-living is true.
The Anderssons are an ordinary Swedish family with a mother, a father and 1.55 children. They have the most common surname in Sweden, live in Stockholm, by far the largest of Sweden’s 290 municipalities in terms of population, and drive the most common car: a Volvo. But their statistically average life is pretty great. Swedish society is worth a closer look.
Start reading: The Average Swedish Family
There are 10 Stereotypes I’ve heard about Swedes, and which are true and false.
1. Everyone eats herring – false
Herring has a strong tradition in Swedish culture but Swedes do not eat herring all year round. Herring is saved mostly for Christmas and Midsommar and rarely gets eaten during the rest of the year.
p.s. there are plenty of videos online of people opening Sour-Herring tins. Worth a watch.
2. Swedes are all blonde -false
Just not true. This is an unfounded stereotype that I can’t find. Sure, there are a lot of kids that are blonde, but this normally passes.
3. Swedes avoid conflict – almost true
You have not seen a tense moment until you have seen two Swedes arguing. Swede’s are very democratic and polite, but I’ve had more than my fair share of arguments with an angry Swede when I took the wrong laundry room.
4. Swedes are all tall – not true
Sure, Swedes are in the top 10 for the tallest men in the world (source), but not all Swedes are tall. Just another unfounded myth.
5. Everyone drives Volvos – not true
Even though Volvo is Sweden’s favorite car, this is just one of many brands on Sweden’s roads. There are also lots of classic American cars, as well as the standard choices. One thing I have noticed recently is the number of Toyota Priuses.
6. Everyone listens to ABBA – definitely not true
Not true. But did you know that many ABBA songs have a Swedish and English version? Also, Benny from ABBA owns a boutique hotel in Södermalm called Rival.
7. Swedes sound like the Muppets Swedish Chef when speaking English – so not true
Family Guy and the Muppets (and even John Oliver) have tried and failed to mimic the Swedish accent when speaking English. Most just sound Dutch or German and totally miss the real accent.
8. Swedes are Green – true
This is so true. Communal recycling places, tetrapak, and Pant, Sweden is very Green and caring of the environment. Pant is a system where recyclable items like plastic and glass bottles have a cash reward if you return and recycle them. Normally 10% of the original value, Pant is a great system that rewards those who want to be green.
9. Sweden is Expensive – true if you are not working here
Yes and No. If you live and work in Sweden, some things are expensive but daily spending is average. However, if you come from a country where the wages are lower than Sweden, then of course Sweden is very expensive. I am originally from the UK where wages are around half of what they are in Sweden. So yes and no.
10. Tax is high in Sweden – true
True, but getting taxed in Sweden is not always a bad thing. Swedes pay some of the highest taxes in the world but see the benefits and rewards come back to them, with cradle to the grave care.
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