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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: glögg

Here's the next word in The Local's Christmas-themed word of the day series, running from December 1st to Christmas Eve.

the word glögg on a black background next to a Swedish flag
Have you had your first glögg of the season yet? Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

It’s fun to say, and more fun to drink. Today’s Swedish word of the day describes a favourite festive treat: glögg.

Glögg is Swedish mulled wine: heated wine, usually red – although white varieties are available too – with spices, almonds and raisins added in. You’ll also see alcohol-free versions, made with juice or simply non-alcoholic wine.

It’s exceptionally popular, almost exclusively drunk around the Christmas season, and glöggfester (glögg parties) are common.

The pronunciation of glögg sounds ever so slightly like the noise you make while gulping down a mug of the stuff at a cold Christmas market, but the origin of the word is not onomatopoeic. It actually comes from the Old Swedish word glödg, a noun made from the verb glödga.

RECIPE: How to make your own Swedish glögg

Delving back even further, glödga has its origins in the verb glöder (to glow), and literally meant something like ‘to heat up until it glows’. Heated wine was popular even among the ancient Greeks and Romans, who also added spice to the concoction, very likely to counter impurities in the wine. These days, glödga has a narrower meaning, ‘to mull’, and like the English verb this can refer to warming drinks or to considering something and ‘mulling it over’ in one’s mind.

The oldest written record of the word glögg is from the early 19th century, even though Swedes have been warming up their wine in winter for centuries before that. Records of glödgat vin date back to the 1600s, and we know that Gustav Vasa, one of Sweden’s most famous rulers in the early 1500s, drank wine heated up with honey, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger.

Swedish mulled wine, and with it the word glögg, has been exported to neighbouring countries, giving rise to the word gløgg in Denmark and glögi in Finland.

Example sentences:

Glögg är en väldigt viktig dryck runt jul

Glögg is a very important drink around Christmas

Glögg dricks ur små koppar och serveras med mandel och russin eller pepparkakor

Glögg is drunk from small cups and served with almonds and raisins or gingerbread

Need a good Christmas gift idea?

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it – or join The Local as a member and get your copy for free.

It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

​​Swedish word of the day: möte

The word of the day is perhaps Sweden’s second favourite pastime, after 'fika', and they often go hand in hand.

​​Swedish word of the day: möte

In 2017 Swedish television published an article with the headline, Möteskulturen frodas i Sverige, “The Meeting Culture is Thriving in Sweden”. For a non-Swede that might seem like an interesting and perhaps bizarre headline, but to the initiated it is all too familiar. 

A möte is simply a meeting, but for Swedes möten are something you do at every opportunity. Need to decide anything at all? Let’s have a möte. This can seem like an awful waste of time to a non-Swede, but Swedes are all about consensus. The idea is that after you have consensus you can move forward more efficiently. And Swedish society seems to do that really well. And it does not hurt that a möte is the perfect time for fika, or more precisely mötesfika.

As a bit of history, the English ‘meeting’ and Swedish möte are related, and they are also related to ‘moot’ as in ‘moot court’ or a ‘moot point’, “an issue that is subject to, or open for discussion or debate; originally, one to be definitively determined by an assembly of the people.” That assembly of people was originally an old Germanic type of town hall, a ting, where people met to discuss communal matters and settle disputes.

Today we can find the word ting in the names of the Icelandic parliament, the Althing, the Danish parliament, the Folketing, and the Norwegian parliament, the Storting. In Sweden you still find it in the name of the lower courts, Tingsrätten

The point is, there is a very old tradition of möten in Scandinavian culture. The Icelandic parliament, for instance, claims to be the oldest in the world. Whether the Icelanders can beat the Swedes at the time spent in möten at work is unsure, no statistics seem to be readily available for a comparison. 

Malin Åkerström, the researcher who was interviewed in the piece by Swedish television, claims that the public sector are the primary champions of möten, but it is also very common in the private sector. And möten are on the rise in many workplaces. 

Here it might help to know that in Sweden a möte can also be between you and just one other co-worker to discuss almost anything, so the term is quite broad. Then there are so called arbetsplatsträffar, more commonly referred to as APT, a type of longer, more serious möte that many workplaces hold regularly (there you can almost always count on fika). 

As you can see, Swedes love their möten – so why not find an excuse to stämma tid för ett möte with one of your Swedish friends or maybe a coworker? You might just make their day.

Example sentences:

Bettan, kan vi stämma tid för ett möte?

Bettan, can we decide on a time for a meeting?

Jag blir galen med alla dessa konstanta möten, va fan är det för fel på svenskar?

I’m going insane with all these constant meetings, what the hell is wrong with these Swedes?

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.

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