Ski crazy Swedes

Tonight the skiing World Cup came to Sweden where, in Stockholm, elite skiers competed in parallel slalom. It was fun to be there, on the packed stands and see all the Swedish flags waving as Swedish skiers Hargin and Hansdotter competed. The competition took place on Hammarbybacken, which is a ski slope in the city. 
Hammarbybacken is a man-made ski resort built from rubble and refuse, towering in the southern part of Stockholm city. Building commenced in the 1950’s and finished in 1990. At 93.5 meters high, it’s a popular weekend destination for outdoorsy Stockholmers. And tonight, there were around 8000 of them there, cheering and shouting into the cold January night. 

The Swedish skiers didn’t win. But the spectators left the event having witnessed a fantastic winter sport event in their very own capital city. 

Trump in Swedish

The other day I heard a new Swedish word. I guess it stuck in my head because it felt contemporary. I was so amused by the word that I had to look it up. And imagine my pleasure when I found its definition! 

The Swedish word I’m referring to is ‘trumpen’. Contemporary for obvious reasons, the word is an adjective and translates as the following: 

  • Glum
  • Moody
  • Morose
  • Stuffy
  • Surly 

Could it be more appropriate?! 

Swedish caviar – but not as you know it

kalleskaviarWhen you hear the word ‘caviar’, you probably get an instant picture in your head – a picture of jewelled fish eggs, vodka, champagne, Russia and luxuriousness.

Until you hear about Swedish caviar – or more specifically a popular Swedish fishy foodstuff called ‘Kalle’s kaviar’.

Kalle’s caviar comes in a tube, emblazened with the image of a blue-eyed, blonde-haired boy called Kalle. It hit the Swedish market in 1954, and has remained an extremely popular food since then. The tube contains smoked, sugar-salted cod and sik roe. It also contains lots of sugar, lots of salt, potato flakes and tomato purée. To eat it, one simply squeezes it from the tube, like toothpaste, onto sandwiches usually containing boiled eggs. Kalle’s caviar is a fishy staple in the Swedish diet. It has a very pungent, extremely salty fishy taste.

It seems to be a divider amongst people. Some people love it, some people despise it. I would politely say that it’s an acquired taste. It certainly is a taste that has taken me twenty years to acquire. When I first tasted it, I remember balking and questioning if it was even fit for human consumption. But now, I will happily squeeze the fishy stuff onto my boiled egg at breakfast time.

Sure, it’s caviar. But not as you know it.


Ten Million Swedes! 

Yesterday, Sweden’s population crossed the 10 million threshold, making it the first Nordic country to do so. This unprecedented growth will escalate rapidly during the next ten years. Eleven million will be reached in 2024, the fastest 1 million growth in history. 

According to Niklas Magnusson at Bloomberg, there are 2 main reasons:

Firstly, record-level net migration is contributing to population growth. 2015 saw 163 000 asylum seekers enter Sweden, mainly from war-torn countries. The inflow represented a more than 1.5 percent increase of the Swedish population overnight. Migration will continue to be the main driver of population growth over the coming decades, however at a slowing pace.

Secondly, Sweden’s fertility rate is among the highest in the EU. Sweden’s fertility rate is almost 1.9 births per woman. Compared with Germany’s 1.47, or Italy’s 1.37, the Swedish economy is going to be able to counter an aging population better than many other Western countries. The other Nordic countries have fertility rates of 1.7 – 1.75. The “baby boom” has been helped by a generous welfare state of infant care, and parental benefits. In addition to this, Sweden’s strong economy has weathered a global recession. 

‘The booming population is good news for future economic growth prospects and tax revenue. It may also lead to more investments in infrastructure and the public sectors’, according to Anna Breman, a chief economist at Swedbank, writes Bloomberg.

So from many perspectives, the population growth is positive. However, a big challenge for Sweden will be to integrate migrants into the work force both economically and socially, and provide them with appropriate education and jobs. On top of this, the housing shortage in big cities is becoming ever more critical. 

As the population swells, where will people live, how will they be supported with education and healthcare and how will they contribute to society are three of the biggest political issues facing Sweden’s governing party in the coming years. 

Sweden’s Name of the Day

In Sweden, there’s a concept known as a ‘name’s day’. Each day of the year has a name associated with it. For example, today January 2nd, is Svea’s day. 

Celebrating name’s day was originally intended to weaken the importance of celebrating birthdays which was considered heathen and unChristian. Most people were christened after saints, which was deemed more holy. 

Interestingly, the concept was also used commonly by farmers to plan their crops, rather than on specific dates. This still exists today somewhat with terms such as Mårten’s Eve and Anna’s Day. 
Today it is seen mostly as an opportunity to celebrate a person with that name on that very day. Some people give presents or go out for dinner, others send texts or write congratulations on social media. Others ignore it completely.

So what can you do if your name doesn’t have an official name’s day? Well, either don’t care about it or adopt a day. 

My English name doesn’t exist in the calendar so I chose the closest Swedish name I could – Nils. That means that the 8th October is my day. Along with the other 138,350 males in Sweden with the name Nils.  

Oh, and the 5 women who also weirdly have Nils as their first name too! 

So when is your name’s day? 

An ABBA New Year 

37 years ago, in 1980, Swedish super band ABBA released the song Happy New Year, which has become an anthem for bringing in the new year for many decades since. In Sweden, the song echos around the roof tops as the new year dawns and the parties continue long into the night. 

The lyrics of the song, and its sentiment, are fairly cheesy but have rarely been as relevant as they are today. Take a moment to reflect over them as I wish you all a peaceful and prosperous new year! I will keep watching the Swedes during 2017. What will you be doing? 

Happy New Year – ABBA

No more champagne, And the fireworks are through. Here we are, me and you, Feeling lost and feeling blue

It’s the end of the party, And the morning seems so grey. So unlike yesterday, Now’s the time for us to say

Happy New Year, Happy New Year, May we all have a vision now and then Of a world where every neighbor is a friend

Happy New Year, Happy New Year, May we all have our hopes, our will to try. If we don’t we might as well lay down and die, You and I

Sometimes I see How the brave new world arrives. And I see how it thrives In the ashes of our lives

Oh yes, man is a fool And he thinks he’ll be okay. Dragging on, feet of clay, Never knowing he’s astray, Keeps on going anyway

Happy New Year, Happy New Year, May we all have a vision now of a world where every neighbor is a friend

Happy New Year, Happy New Year, May we all have our hopes, our will to try. If we don’t we might as well lay down and die

 You and I. 

Seems to me now That the dreams we had before Are all dead, nothing more Than confetti on the floor

It’s the end of a decade. In another ten years time, Who can say what we’ll find, What lies waiting down the line In the end of eighty-nine

Happy New Year, Happy New Year. May we all have a vision now and then Of a world where every neighbor is a friend

Happy New Year, Happy New Year. May we all have our hopes, our will to try. If we don’t we might as well lay down and die. 

You and I.