In Sweden many customs, festivities and traditions are closely associated with the changing seasons. Most are the perfect balance of modern life and a sense of holding onto its rich history, and almost always these traditions are held in the family home.
Sweden is often listed as one of the happiest places to live by the World Happiness Report (yes, there is such a thing!) so we thought after our recent visit to Småland in Sweden we’d take look at some lifestyle choices we can easily recreate over here for a happier, calmer and more Scandi inspired life.
Taking over from where the Danish Hygge (a feeling of wellbeing and coziness) left off Lagom is a Swedish word meaning ‘just the right amount’. Often translated as ‘in moderation or balance’ – so, basically enjoying everything in moderation. Where as hygge captures a moment in time – and captured us for the whole of 2017 – be that, a short holiday, hot chocolate by the fire or snuggling under blankets with candles aglow. Lagom is more about your whole life as a whole.
Finding the perfect balance between life and work, family and free-time – basically not to much, not too little, just right. Think Goldilocks for life.
2. GET OUTDOORS
It’s a well-known national characteristic that the Swedish love nature and getting outside to enjoy the natural world. Many Swedes like to spend their free time in the forest or by the sea. Being at one is helped by ‘the right of public access’ which applies to all forests, fields, beaches and lakes across the country and entitles everyone to roam freely and camp overnight, even on private land – meaning foraging, treks, hikes, camping and water actives are all fair game. But, of course you do have to treat flora, fauna and other people’s property with care and consideration.
Putting off going outdoors because of the great British weather? A common expression in Sweden is “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.” The Swedes are always stylishly prepared for changes whatever the weather.
>> Here’s how to keep the children prepared for the outdoors come rain or shine – with 3 of our favourite Swedish outdoor clothing companies.
>>> Polarn O. Pyret
>>> Mini Rodini
3. TACO FRIDAY
Friday nights in Scandinavia are for staying in and referred to as Fredagsmys meaning ‘Friday cosiness’ or ‘cozy Friday’. And, in Sweden they have ‘taco fredag’ (taco Friday). A night for family, eating in and a casual way to de-stress after a long week – Friday’s in Sweden are devoted to snack-eating and television. And, the only rule is ‘on Fridays, we eat tacos.’ Not very Scandi clean living but, really a thing and it’s the joy of sharing food together – there is even a song:
“Nu är det slut på veckan nu är det dags för fredagsmyyyyys…” (This is the end of the week, now it’s time for fredagsmyyyyys…”)
After a trip to the supermarket to gather tacos, soda, crisps and dips – there HAS to be dips. Fredagsmy can begin. Not a bad way to end the week and start the weekend now is it?
>> Here’s a great recipe for Quick Pork & Bean Tacos that are perfect for the whole family.
4. SATURDAY SWEETS!
Speaking of weekends, Saturday’s all about Lördagsgodis. A common custom in Sweden to only allow children to eat as much candy or sweet treats aa they like/can on Saturdays mornings. After a week of working out and eating healthily – and following Friday night tacos, of course (see above) – Swedes love their Saturday sugar-rush.
Believed to hail from the 1950’s when researchers recommended parents limit children’s sweet-eating to one day a week in order to keep cavities and tooth decay at bay. Now, most adults in Sweden reminisce about that visit to the sweet-shop as children and getting to pick out their Saturday sweets from a pick-n-mix at the local grocery store or sweet shop – and it’s a tradition that has been continued to this day.
And, one that would be easy for us to take on board to cut out mid-week sweet treats don’t you think?
Why not try the ever-popular Swedish Fish?
Probably the easiest Swedish tradition to adopt Fika – translates to coffee break or ‘to fika’ – meaning to meet up, have a coffee and a chit-chat. See easy. What Fika must include besides good filter coffee is pastries (especially cinnamon buns), biscuits or cakes. When you have a Fikarast (coffee break) at work, at home or around at a friends house it can last from 10 minutes to several hours and it is not unheard of to polish off a good 2-3 cups of filter coffee in one sitting. Each.
It is usually a twice day occurrence. At work it is taken with colleagues in a more relaxed environment (away from ones desks) in the morning and again in the afternoon. Not sure if could it be fitted into everybody’s normal work day in the UK – but definitely a great reason to catch up with friends and colleagues in person rather than via social media, phones and emails.
>> Learn the art of how to ‘Fika’ with Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats by Anna Brones or The Little Book of Fika: The Uplifting Daily Ritual of the Swedish Coffee Break by Lynda Balslev
6. MIDSUMMER CELEBRATIONS
Midsummer take place in June, on the longest day of the year. That day this year is June 24th in the UK (and 23rd in Sweden). Midsummer is, next to Christmas, the most important celebration in Sweden. Midsummer, also known as Saint John’s Day, is the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening. And, also signals the start of the summer holidays.
It starts with Midsummer Eve (always the first Friday between the dates) and begins with picking birch leaves and wild flowers to place on the maypole – the key component in the celebrations and as is making wild floral crowns. The day itself is filled with parties, dancing and singing around the traditional maypole. As midsummer is an occasion of large gatherings − where maybe the whole family can get together – to celebrate this traditional high-point of the summer. Isn’t this a great way to see ‘everyone’ and to do as the Swedish do – fulfil many social obligations in one go – so, that you can go on to enjoy the rest of the summer holiday in relative peace?