Five ‘Swemojis’ that will help you understand Sweden

Having a tough time getting your head around Sweden? Fortunately it's now possible to get to know the Nordic nation through emojis – or 'Swemojis', to be specific. Sarah Falck from online language portal has picked out five that will give you a great all-round grasp of Swedish culture and its mysterious ways.

Five 'Swemojis' that will help you understand Sweden
Fika in emoji form. Photo:

Did you know that Sweden has its very own set of emojis called Swemojis, created as a tribute to Swedish culture and heritage? While the meaning of these emojis is probably crystal clear to a Swede, the average foreigner might have a hard time interpreting some of these icons. That's why I'm here to help! Let's have a look at five strange Swemojis and their meanings, shall we?

1. Fika

We know most of you are familiar with Swedish fika – and are perhaps beginning to tire of all the talk about this supposedly holy institution – but we could not write a list like this without mentioning the fika Swemoji. On the off chance that you have never heard about fika before, you're probably thinking, 'whoah, this must be something really special'.

READ ALSO: Here's what happened when this Swede introduced fika at her London office

Well… it's basically coffee and some kind of sweet pastry, cake or cookie. What? Your mind isn't blown? Oh, my friend, you're just not Swedish enough (yet!).


2. Midsommar

It's a beautiful summer's day and you're walking through town. Suddenly, you hear a noise. You're not sure what it is, but you decide to go and find out. As you approach the source of the noise, you realize it's actually coming from humans– and it seems like they are singing. You go even closer. You see a big pole dressed in green, and the people are dancing around said pole. They are wearing flowers in their hair, and they seem to be in a trance-like state. Some are even doing a strange dance while making frog sounds. You realize this must be some kind of weird Swedish hippie cult. You slowly step back and run away.

No, no, no! You just missed out on the most traditional Swedish party of them all – Midsommar. Celebrated around the summer solstice, more specifically the Friday between the 19th and 25th of June, this is the day to go crazy in Sweden. Many Swedes even strategically choose Midsommar as the starting point of their summer vacation so that they have several weeks of rest after this grand occasion of drinking, eating and dancing around the maypole, the symbol of Midsummer (and this emoji).


3. Kräftskiva

Forget about Christmas – late summer is the most wonderful time of the year in Sweden. August and September (even late July if you're particularly eager) is the time for the traditional Swedish kräftskiva aka. crayfish party, aka another excuse to drink because Midsummer was already a long time ago now.

READ ALSO: How to survive a Swedish crayfish party

What does a kräftskiva consist of, you ask? It's simple: all you need is a mountain of crayfish, some seriously strong alcohol and your best singing voice. Because you can't just drink during a crayfish party. No, no. You have to sing first. But no need to improvise – there are standard drinking songs called snapsvisor.

READ ALSO: Eight zaniest Swedish drinking song lyrics

These are short, bright and humorous songs, often about how delicious the snaps is and how much you are craving it. If you're still confused, just smile and hum. You're only a few shots away from being fluent in Swedish anyway.


4. Dansbandsmusik

Sweden is known for producing a lot of amazing music: ABBA, The Cardigans, Zara Larsson… all great and popular around the world.

And then there is dansbandsmusik – dance band music. If you think this means house or techno or whatever you usually like to dance to at the club… well, that's not it. The bands from this genre have not met the same international success as others. There is a reason why: only Swedes can get into this music. Well, mostly middle-aged Swedes. The songs are light-hearted and usually about cheesy topics/have cheesy lyrics such as “smiling golden brown eyes”, “don't say no, say maybe maybe maybe” and “the last sweet years” (actual song names).

READ ALSO: Swedish dance bands, a musical mystery wrapped in spandex

The bands are often named after the lead singer and some make it extra catchy by replacing the letter 's' with a 'z' (I mean, Larz Kristerz just looks so much more hip than Lars Kristers). The band members also wear matching outfits.

These album covers say it all. But hey, if you're into this, who am I to judge? We all have our guilty pleasures. I'm a sucker for The Great British Bake Off and I like to sing Disney songs when I'm alone.


5. Kebab pizza

Meatballs are so 1700. The modern Swede is experimental and exotic when it comes to food. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: the kebab pizza.

READ ALSO: Could Sweden make New Year's Day kebab pizza day?

This is the most popular pizza in the whole country. And don't say it's not Swedish cuisine – it was invented in Malmö! If you're feeling extra Scandinavian, you can upgrade to the Viking kebab pizza, which is a folded kebab pizza that is supposed to resemble a Viking ship. It doesn't get much more Swedish than that (unless you go one step further and try the 'Calskroven'). This baby will cure your post Midsummer/crayfish party hangover right away.


If you feel like you need these Swemojis in your life – and I know you do – you can download all 87 of them in the App Store here.

This article was written by Sara Falck, who works for the online language portal

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The Swedish words you need to understand Sweden’s cost of living crisis

Households in Sweden, as elsewhere around the world, are feeling the economic squeeze right now as prices rise, but wages don’t. Here's a vocabulary list from Anneli Beronius Haake to help you understand the cost of living crisis.

The Swedish words you need to understand Sweden's cost of living crisis

The Local reached out to Anneli Beronius Haake (Swedish Made Easy), Swedish teacher and author of Teach Yourself Complete Swedish, to put together a list of words you might hear and read in the upcoming weeks as prices continue to soar.

(ett) elprisstöd – literally, electricity price support. The government may choose to provide support to both individuals and businesses, to help cope with high electric costs.

(ett) högkostnadsskydd – high cost protection. There have previously been discussions about high cost protections to cap electricity prices or agreements for the government to cover everything over a certain amount, but following the recent elections, the status of this proposal is unclear.

(en) amortering vs (en) ränta – if you own your own house or apartment, then you already know that these words refer to payments on your mortgage (noun: amortering, verb: att amortera) and payments against the interest on your mortgage. If you’re thinking about buying, keep an eye on these two – and on interest rates (ränta)!

(en) varmhyra vs (en) kallhyra – if you’re on the market for a new rental apartment, you might see these two words pop up. Varmhyra (literally: “warm rent”) means heating is included in the rental price. Kallhyra (literally, “cold rent”) means that the rental price does not include heating costs.

(en) uppvärmning – heating, or heating costs. If your heating costs are included in your rent, you don’t have to worry about this. Instead, you only need to keep an eye on:

(en) hushållsel – or household electricity. This covers the electricity you use for everything in your home, from charging your mobile phone to using your oven.

Energisnål – energy efficient. You might see this word stuck on a dishwasher or fridge if you’re shopping for new household appliances, signalling that it will help cut down on your electric costs. Similarly, you may see the word att snåla (to scrimp or save) used in the phrases att snåla med energi (to save on energy) or att snåla med pengar (to save money).

(en) energikris – an energy crisis. 

privatekonomi – personal finances. You may see this not only referring to individuals, but also to households, where it will be written as hushållens privatekonomi.

hushållskostnader – household costs, again, linked to hushållens privatekonomi, this usually refers to gemensamma kostnader (shared costs), such as water and electricity bills, insurance and internet, but can also cover other costs such as food, hygiene products such as toilet paper, and even mobile phone contracts.

(ett) energibolag, (en) elproducent – an energy company, an energy producer.

(en) elområde – an energy zone. Sweden is split into four energy zones, with the most expensive energy prices in the south of the country, covering the three largest cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö (zones 3 and 4), and the cheapest prices in the north (zones 1 and 2).

Att spara – to save. This can be in the sense of att spara pengar (to save money), or att spara på kostnader/el (to save on costs/electricity).

Att stiga/öka/höja – these three verbs all relate to increases, but with their own nuances.

Att stiga, or stiger in the present tense means ‘rises’, and can be used to describe rising petrol prices.

Att öka, or ökar in the present tense means ‘increases’, and can be used to describe how the price of groceries are increasing.

Finally, att höja, or höjer in the present tense means ‘raises’ – when you can point out that something or someone has raised the price of something, for example, when describing how banks are raising interest rates.

Att sjunka/minska – these two verbs both relate to decreases, again with their own nuances.

Att sjunka, or sjunker in the present tense (literally sinking) means fall/slump/drop, and can be used to refer to price falls.

Att minska, or minskar, on the other hand, is like ökar, because it is used when describing how something has decreased, like your electricity usage might decrease this winter in light of rising prices.

Similarly to sjunka, you may see the verb att sänka (to lower), in the sense of lowering the heating (att sänka värmen) or lowering household costs (att sänka hushållskostnader).

(en) utgift – an expense, plural utgifter – expenses.

(en) inkomst – income. A source of income would be (en) inkomstskälla.

(en) plånbok – literally, this means wallet. Figuratively, it also means your bank account and its contents. Headlines about money leaving your plånbok don’t mean money is vanishing from your wallet, but from your bank account. During the recent Swedish election, for example, politicians spoke about plånboksfrågor (literally “wallet issues”), issues affecting people’s income and spending power.

Att dra ner på utgifterna – to cut down on your expenses. This is related to the phrase att se över utgifterna: to take a look at your expenses, for example to see if there are any areas you can cut down.

Att dra åt svångremmen – to tighten one’s belt.