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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Swedish word of the day: fredagsmys

Today we take a look at a compound noun that is something of a national tradition here in Sweden.

Swedish word of the day: fredagsmys
This has to be one of the happiest words in the Swedish language. Image: nito103/Depositphotos

Fredagsmys literally means 'Friday cosiness'; think TGIF, but fewer cocktails and more blankets and snacks. 

Mys is related to the adjective mysig (cosy) and the verb att mysa, which can mean 'to cuddle/snuggle' but usually just means 'to have a pleasant, relaxing, chilled out time'. You'll also occasionally hear things (a film or recipe) described as fredagsmysig or hear people use the verb fredagsmysa (to have a cosy Friday night in).

There are plenty of different varieties of mys: höstmys, julmys, tacomys, kvällsmys, strandmys and so on.

But fredagsmys is one of the most commonly used forms. It was most likely coined in the 1990s to describe an evening spent relaxing at the end of the five-day working week, first appearing in Swedish media in 1994 and entering the Swedish Academy's dictionary 12 years later. There are equivalents in Norway (fredagskos) and Denmark (fredagshygge).

Order and routine are a big part of Swedish culture: pea soup is traditionally eaten on Thursdays, and sweets traditionally eaten on Saturdays (known as lördagsgodis or 'Saturday sweets' – this one actually has a scientific background, as studies showed that eating one large portion of sugar each week was less damaging to teeth than a small amount eaten more regularly). So it's only natural that their weekly downtime be given a designated day too; and it highlights the value given to a healthy work-life balance.

Fredagsmys usually means getting cosy on the sofa with some easily-prepared food (often tacos or pizza, fizzy drinks, crisps and sweets) and watching TV. There's usually another person involved: you can mysa with a partner, family, friends, or pets. 

There's even a fredagsmys anthem, a song created for an advert for crisp company OLW, which stresses that this is an activity for people of all ages and professions. Perhaps expats will relate to the English-speaker who says 'since I moved here, all I do is mys'.

Examples

Nu är det slut på veckan, det är dags för fredagsmys

Now it's the end of the week, it's time for a cosy Friday night

Jag älskar att fredagsmysa

I love having a cosy Friday night in

Do you have a favourite Swedish word you'd like to nominate for our word of the day series? Get in touch by email.

 

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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

​​Swedish word of the day: pyttipanna

This word of the day is a lot of bits of leftovers.

​​Swedish word of the day: pyttipanna

Pyttipanna or pytt i panna is a Swedish dish, but really a Nordic dish, as it exists in Norway (pytt i panne), Denmark (biksemad), and Finland (pyttipannu). The word or words supposedly mean ‘little bits in a pan’. Panna of course is simply ‘pan’ as in ‘frying pan’. But pytt, it seems, is an interesting little word. 

Taken as is, pytt has several meanings: a penis (see pitt), a small person (as in liliputian, lilleputt), a local name for the ‘marsh tit’, which is a little bird, or simply small. But all of those might be wrong. The Swedish Academy actually proposes that the pytt in pyttipanna did not originally mean ‘small’, but that it instead might come from putta, a word that today only means ‘push’, but which has the same root as the English ‘put’ and once also had that meaning. 

This would of course mean that the correct translation into English of pyttipanna is ‘Put in a Pan’! While many refer to it as ‘Swedish Hash’ or ‘Swedish Fry Up, and one could imagine it as ‘Pieces in a Pan’, Jamie Oliver sticks to the actual name pyttipanna when he makes it, and that is the recommended way.

The dish itself is a dish worth tasting for reference, as nearly every Swedish school child will have eaten it, sometimes several times a month, during their entire schooling. The dish is as Swedish as any. And there are fancier variations if you wanna go that way – look for krögarpytt. 

As is often the way with words, people constantly find new and at times even funny uses for them. Pyttipanna is no exception. 

Here you can see Swedish journalist Sara Mitchell-Malm making great use of pyttipanna in the sense of someone being ‘pyttipanna-ed’ or in other word proverbially cut to pieces. The target is British prime minister Liz Truss, and Mitchell-Mann also grabs the opportunity to get a jibe in at the Swedish minister for foreign affairs, Ann Linde.

Translation: ‘Aaah, a whole hour of British local radio journalists making pyttipanna of Liz Truss – the evening shift couldn’t start better. You have to listen, I beg you, she makes Ann Linde on German television seem like a professor of rhetoric.’

What Sara Mitchell-Mann is doing here is replacing the standard slarvsylta, another dish used to say that someone is being shredded by critics or opponents, with pyttipanna. An English language equivalent would be the American ‘making chop suey of someone’. 

Before you ascend to Mitchell-Mann’s Jedi level of pyttipanna use, start by making the dish for your friends. There are many great recipes online. Good luck!

Example sentences:

Gillar ni inte pyttipannan så kommer jag göra pyttipanna av er nästa gång! 

If you don’t like the pyttipanna, I’ll make pyttipanna of you next time!

Pyttipanna eller krögarpytt? Vad är skillnaden?

Pyttipanna or krögarpytt? What’s the difference?

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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