It’s Sweden day today. Since moving away 17 years ago it’s become a day when I reflect on what it means to me living abroad, away from my friends and family.
For me Sweden is home. It’s family. It’s memories and childhood. It’s running through fields barefoot. It’s going for bike rides with my friends. It’s swimming in lakes on hot summer days. It’s singing in church wearing my best summer dress. It’s picking flowers in meadows. It’s picking mushrooms. It’s going on a boat to the island. It’s Astrid Lindgren and ABBA. It’s Swedish humour and Fika.
Living abroad almost makes you more Swedish. Our traditions become so more important, particularly our holidays. Lucia and Christmas, Midsommar and Crayfish parties. Heck, even Eurovision!
Most memories of Sweden and my childhood are covered with a rosy pink hue. The longer I stay away, the more my memories alter themselves, adding a suitable photo filter.
I know it’s not the reality, but it’s what my brain likes to think is true. Or maybe it’s my heart?
The UK is my home and where I’ve decided to live and raise my children. I’m so happy here and couldn’t ever imagine not living here.
I’m a member of a few “Swedes abroad” groups on Facebook and the conversations are always the same – regardless of what new country we have adopted.
We miss the Swedish summers, we miss being outdoors. We miss how family oriented Sweden is as a country, not only in terms of equal childcare rights, but how everything is child friendly, putting the kids in focus.
We miss the food. Gosh, do we miss the food.
I had a food delivery the other day of foods I love and I could have cried. Unless you’ve lived abroad yourself it’s a hard one to explain fully.
On the whole, I’ve become British. I say sorry when someone bumps into me, I love a queue and will always happily talk about the weather. I cook a pretty mean roast and I drink a lot of tea. I’m polite and open minded – something that’s a bit of oxymoron having lived in London for most of my adult years!
But my core is still Swedish and I miss it sometimes.
Below is a list of very Swedish things:
- Swedes love their coffee. 6 cups a day is standard. (Preferably had with nice pastries and/or cinnamon buns.) I love my coffee too, and a proper coffee maker was one of the first things I bought when I moved to London.
You always take your shoes off inside. You wouldn’t wear your coat inside so why your shoes? I don’t get it.
Be bad at small talk. I’m quite good at this actually, but says more about my personality than anything else. I like to talk. A lot. To anyone.
Be direct. The Swedish language is direct and to the point. I struggle with this now as I want to add a “thank you, thanks, please, cheers, ta!” to most sentences.
Only eating sweets (candy) on a Saturday. I used to follow this rule religiously but can’t say that I do anymore. I may revisit it as we eat far too many sweet things generally.
The Swedes love the outdoors and will head out whatever the weather. There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. I use this quote ALL THE TIME. Just dress according to the weather you’ll be okay.
- We love candles. We love them. A lot. Why? Well, you never know when there’ll be a powercut or thunder and lightening. Are you going to IKEA in the near future? Check out their candle department and you’ll see what I mean.
Smörgåstårta is a thing. We serve this at family events; christenings, birthdays and the like. It’s basically a massive club sandwich and it’s beautiful and the best thing ever. The first time I made this for my husband he thought I’d made it as a joke.
So there you have it. Happy Sweden Day everyone. Hope you’re celebrating with a lovely smörgåstårta and a cup of coffee somewhere.