No Valentine’s roses for Stockholm school children

A Swedish primary and middle school said Thursday it had decided to no longer sell roses to students on Valentine's Day to protect the feelings of sweetheart-less students.

No Valentine's roses for Stockholm school children
Photo: Frank Hermers

“We decided to stop selling roses … because some students received dozens and others received none,” the vice-principal of Gärdes school in Stockholm, Lars Wikander, told AFP.

He said pupils who received no roses could feel excluded and suffer “from getting no attention at all throughout this special day.”

“In the best of worlds, each student would receive a rose on Valentine’s Day,” Wikander said.

According to a study published on the website of the Swedish organization Friends, which combats bullying in schools, more than two-thirds of youngsters feel left out on Valentine’s Day.

“Valentine’s Day is a very positive day … but there is also the flip side of the coin, which is that many youngsters feel bad,” said Friends spokesman Magnus Jägerskog, adding that the day should be used to discuss friendship and how to treat loved ones.

The survey, which questioned 1,027 youths aged 14 to 24, was conducted by the Cint institute during the second week of February.


The Swedish towns where couples stay married

Sweden may have a higher than average divorce rate, but there are some areas where couples tend to stay together – at least according to these official marriage stats.

The Swedish towns where couples stay married
File photo of a couple holding hands. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

A total of 24,876 marriages ended in divorce in Sweden in 2015, according to the latest available figures from the country's national number-crunching agency Statistics Sweden.

But some municipalities buck the trend, with couples staying married the longest in Övertorneå, a northern municipality of some 4,500 residents on the border to Finland.

Övertorneå couples stay together for 42 years before they divorce or one of them passes away, followed by fellow northerners in Pajala (40.1 years) and Vimmerby in southern region Småland (40 years).

Compare this to for example Stockholm suburbs Botkyrka and Sundbyberg at the bottom of the list, where the average marriage lasted 15.7 and 15.6 years in 2015, respectively.

“The population is younger in big cities. Many people get married, but more marriages end in divorce,” Statistics Sweden analyst Tomas Johansson told news agency Siren.

The average marriage in Sweden lasts for 25 years, before divorce or death.

The lesson is not as simple as “move to Övertorneå and your marriage will last”. Much of northern and rural Sweden has an ageing population, which contributes to the statistics.

“Relatively few are at the start of their marriages, which means that the number of marriages that end as a result of a death is higher,” explained Johansson.

“For example almost five times more people in Övertorneå became a widow or widower than got divorced in 2015.”

Top-20 list of the municipalities where marriages lasted the longest before ending through divorce or death

Övertorneå: 42 years
Pajala: 40.1 years
Vimmerby: 40 years
Arvidsjaur: 39.5 years
Rättvik: 38.9 years
Grästorp: 38.5 years
Tingsryd: 38 years
Malå: 37.9 years
Munkfors: 37.9 years
Berg: 37 years
Överkalix: 36.5 years
Nordmaling: 36.3 years
Vännäs: 36.3 years
Lekeberg: 35.5 years
Vilhelmina: 35.4 years
Robertsfors: 35.3 years
Vansbro: 35.2 years
Bräcke: 35.1 years
Sorsele: 35.1 years
Örnsköldsvik: 35.1 years