Dressed in traditional white caps, and bolstered with alcohol, the students jump up and down to the booming music from loud speakers concealed in the vehicle. They scream, sing and shout and, if it’s a hot day like today, they spray beer on each other and sometimes unsuspecting pedestrians.
Many of them have banners hanging on the side of the trucks. Usually these are just informative but sometimes they’re personal, political or funny. One I saw today said ‘we’re doing this for you Frida’. Another one reported in the media was ‘if Stefan Löfven can become Sweden’s Prime Minister, then there’s hope for all of us.’
These youngsters are celebrating the end of their school career. Most of them are 19 years old and have just graduated from Sixth Form College/High School.
It’s not all fun and games though. Every year the media reports accidents and injuries, which is not entirely unexpected considering the mad energy with which the students jump and scream. And trucks have been banned from certain roads and areas in the towns.
In Sweden, doing ‘studenten’, as it’s called in Swedish, is a major rite of passage into adult life. The youngsters finish their last day at school, come running out of the building to be greeted by waiting parents and families. They then climb aboard their trucks for their lap of honour. After that they go around to each other’s homes where each family usually arranges a reception to honour the newly-graduated student.
It is a very common sight on the streets of Sweden this time of the year and a refreshing reminder of the hopefulness of youth.