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Swedes host festive meals for 'lonely' guests

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Swedes host festive meals for 'lonely' guests
A traditional Swedish Christmas dinner. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT
14:00 CET+01:00
A Swedish woman's plan to embrace the spirit of Christmas by inviting a stranger around for a festive feast has caused a social media stir, as reports emerge of similar initiatives across the country.

Jeanette Sinn from Malmö in southern Sweden posted a message on a popular Swedish Facebook group for people seeking to swap or give away unwanted items saying she was looking for someone to share Christmas dinner with, alongside her family. 

To her surprise the post generated almost 1,000 likes and in excess of 100 comments within a few hours. She was also flooded with offers from people who were eager to take her up on the offer of a free Christmas dinner.

"I wanted to do something to help people who are lonely and vulnerable. I've never been alone at Christmas but that is not the case for a lot of people," Sinn told The Local.

The kind-hearted Swede said she was inspired to make the gesture after becoming aware of how lonely some people are during the holiday season.

After getting a lot of enquiries she has decided to invite not one but two people over on December 24th for the full Swedish Christmas dinner experience.

"There are going to be around 15 of us including my sambo (partner) along with our children and in-laws. Christmas is a time for people to come together as nobody should be on their own on this particular day," she said.

Her partner, Pierre Bürgermeister, enthusiastically backed the idea but stated there were some conditions attached to the invite.

"I knew nothing about this until Jeanette said it to me afterwwards but my feeling was 'why not?' The only thing is they have to sit through Kalle Anka (Donald Duck) and pretend to enjoy it before the dinner," laughed Bürgermeister.

A similar initiative in southern Sweden has also become popular online after Swede Mikael Eriksson set up the 'Stranger for dinner' (Främling på middag) page, which clocked up over 1,000 members in a short space of time.

"We've become afraid of strangers and build a nasty picture of what the person is. But the chances are greater that a stranger will become a good friend rather than someone who would do you harm," Eriksson told the Skåne Fria newspaper.

A couple in Stockholm County have also got onboard with the idea by posting an advert  on Swedish buying and selling site Blocket seeking company on New Year's Eve.

Therése Ädling and Christopher Svensson posted the message saying they were hoping to meet "spontaneous" people on December 31st. At the foot of the advert they stated it was not an invitation to find potential swingers, but simply to meet "nice friends."

The advert has been widely shared but to date the couple has yet to receive a firm confirmation for their offer of dinner and a spot of karaoke, according to Sweden's Metro newspaper.

Meanwhile in Malmö Jeanette Sinn is hoping her idea will catch on across the rest of the country.

"I'm hoping that the interest people have had in this Christmas dinner idea will encourage others to do the same. I'd love it if more people made the offer and it could become an annual gesture," Sinn told The Local.

Earlier this year The Local reported how a Swedish language teacher was working to bring immigrants and Swedes together by getting them to dine together in a similar 'Stranger for Dinner' initiative.  

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