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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: dammsugare

Here's a Swedish word that has two meanings, one useful and one delicious.

Swedish word of the day: dammsugare
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Dammsugare means 'dust-sucker', and it's the very literal Swedish name for a vacuum cleaner.

But more excitingly, it's also the name of a small Swedish pastry.

You've probably seen them if you've been to a traditional cafe in Sweden: the green marzipan cylinders with their ends dipped in chocolate.

The official name is punschrulle (punch roll) thanks to the liqueur that flavours the filling, but they're known as dammsugare or 'vacuum cleaners' for two reasons.

Firstly, they look similar to a model of vacuum cleaner that used to be popular in Sweden around the early 20th century. Perhaps that's one reason they're so beloved here; a kind of nostalgia.

Secondly, these treats are typically made using leftover biscuit crumbs for the filling — picture the baker hoovering up these crumbs to repackage them in a brightly coloured dammsugare.


Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

One story is that they were invented or at least became mainstream in the postwar period when ingredients for cakes were in short supply. Using crushed-up leftovers from unsellable biscuits meant the bakers and buyers didn't have to use extra rations for them, while the liqueur and chocolate added a hit of extra flavour to the day-old crumbs. It's likely the extravagant marzipan topping was added later.

You'll find very similar cakes across northern Europe, known as 'tree trunks' in Denmark (where they don't usually contain liqueur) and 'little marrow bones' in the Netherlands. Three distinctly unappetising names for a popular snack.

Like many cakes and pastries in Sweden, the dammsugare has an 'official' day of celebration: March 7th. But they'll appear on the fika spread all year round, and now you know their story.

And if you want to make them? Here's the recipe.

Examples

Oj, jag har ätit för många dammsugare!

Oh no, I've eaten too many dammsugare cakes! 

Jag behöver en dammsugare

I need a vacuum cleaner/dammsugare cake

Our Swedish Word of the Day series aims to help you learn a bit more about how the Swedish language works — especially the bits you wouldn't learn in a classroom. Do you have any feedback, or a favourite Swedish word you would like to nominate? Get in touch by email or if you are a Member of The Local, log in to comment below.

 

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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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