Swedes and their quirky habits laid bare

Plucking out little cultural differences and critiquing them to death is the part-time hobby of almost any expat anywhere in the world and US exile Doug Lansky shows that he is no different.

Christ, get enough expats in one room and it’s practically a sport. So as I sit here writing these little Swedish quirks I can rest assured that Swedes are at this very moment sitting around a table somewhere in America half joking, half bitching about some bizarre American habits or regulations.

There’s certainly no shortage for them to choose from, whether it’s the relaxed handgun laws, the flood of superficial “how-ya-doings,” or the glut of pharmaceutical adverts on TV.

And let me also say that these Swedish habits I’m about to list, even though they may perplex or mildly annoy, are precisely what make Sweden what it is. They give the country character, and we wouldn’t want to take that away. Okay, okay, they could probably lose a few and be better off from it. But still…

1. That Julmust and Påskmust are the exact same drink, but Swedes insist on calling it different names.

2. That it’s an insult to show up 15 minutes late for lunch, but perfectly okay to cancel a lunch 15 minutes before (typically by email or sms, often without any more explanation than “I have to cancel”)

3. That Swedes always find an occasion to bring out herring (is it Christmas food or Easter food or midsummer food – make up your minds!)

4. That Swedes are so bizarrely patriotic about their strawberries. Buy Polish ones at midsummer and you’re just asking to be a social outcast. (That is, you can buy strawberries picked by Polish people, but the strawberries themselves shouldn’t be grown in Poland.)

5. That Swedes commonly “Tiga ut nagon.” This roughly translates as “giving the silent treatment.” It’s a passive aggressive technique they’ve somehow come to think of as a polite conflict avoidance.

6 That Swedes, at a crayfish party, can suck and chew on the almost entirely meatless-leg of a crayfish for several minutes, like a dog gnawing on a bone.

7. That Swedes answer non-emergency phone calls on their mobile in almost every social situation no matter how inappropriate (like while they’re eating dinner at your house).

8. That Swedes, among the world leaders in environmental matters and devote protectors of the forests, allowed people to build a golf course and club house in the Nacka nature reserve (which permits trucks to drive in nearly every day to deliver food and packages and often fills the reserve with the sound of lawn mowing.)

9. That Swedes typically forget to introduce people to their friends when they meet on the street. (Not sure if they haven’t remembered their names or my name or they just find me embarrassing and would rather me not meet their friends.)

10. That Swedes put salad on the same plate as the warm meal. Then they think “oh, I better eat the warm food while it’s still warm.” Inevitably, the warm sauce (despite a wall of potatoes) runs into the bottom of the salad and makes it turns it soggy from the bottom up.

Any more I might have forgot? C’mon, you know you’ve had a few gnawing away at you for a while. Here’s your chance. Comments below please.

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Swede confirmed dead after Paris terror attacks

UPDATED: A Swedish citizen was among the victims of the attacks that killed more than 120 people in Paris on Friday, while another was injured, the foreign ministry said on Saturday.

Swede confirmed dead after Paris terror attacks
Emergency services in Paris's 10th district on Friday night. Photo: Jacques Brinon/TT/AP

LIVE: Follow the latest developments on The Local France

More than 120 people were killed in a series of coordinated bombings and shootings across Paris on Friday, including around 100 shot dead in a bloodbath at a rock concert.

“We have information that one person of Swedish nationality was wounded by gunfire and another was killed,” said Johan Tegel, a ministry spokesman told public television in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The news was confirmed by Swedish Interior Minister Anders Ygeman, speaking to Sveriges Radio in the afternoon.

Read witness accounts of the attacks on The Local France

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström was among the first global figureheads rushing to condemn the attacks on Friday, describing the violence as “horrible news”.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven told a press conference just after noon on Saturday that Swedes were “grieving” for France and for the Swedish victims.

“We think of the victims and their relatives, of parents who have lost their children. One Swede is dead and we have information that another Swede has been wounded in a shooting. We are in touch with their families,” he said.

Stockholmers also joined members of the French community living in the Swedish capital and held a peaceful rally in Sergel's torg, one of the largest public squares in the city.

Horrible news from Paris tonight. Our thoughts and support goes to France and all those affected by the deadly attacks.

Meanwhile Swedish officials announced that they were stepping up security in the wake of the terror in France and ahead of Sweden's Euro 2016 qualifier against Denmark in Solna, north of Stockholm, scheduled to kick off at 8.45pm.