License to be a Swede - how to become truly Swedish

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Sweden is known for its stunning landscapes, social welfare system, and delicious meatballs. But what does it mean to be truly Swedish? To answer this question, we've put together a guide to help you become a certified Swede and earn your license to belong in the cold northern county.

What is a Swede?

A Swede is a person of Swedish nationality or descent. But being a Swede goes beyond having Swedish roots. It's about embodying the values and traditions of Swedish culture.

How to become a Swede?

To become a Swede, you must apply for Swedish citizenship, which requires meeting certain eligibility criteria. However, obtaining Swedish citizenship alone does not make you truly Swedish. To achieve this, you must immerse yourself in Swedish culture and adopt the many different customs of the country, even though some of them makes zero sense. Did I hear dancing around a pole acting like frogs? Yes, that’s a real thing in Sweden. I’m not making this up.

Learn the language

The Swedish language is the key to integrating into Swedish culture. You'll need to learn the language, as hard as it might be, to communicate effectively with the locals and navigate your way through everyday life. Many Swedish schools offer Swedish language courses to help you get started.

Don’t get me wrong, the Swedes are great at English. It’s just you won’t be able to experience the richness of the culture without fully immersing yourself into the local language and culture.

Participate in cultural activities

Sweden has a rich culture that is deeply ingrained in its people. To become truly Swedish, you need to immerse yourself in the country's cultural activities. Attend local festivals, visit museums and art galleries, and take part in Swedish traditions like Midsummer and Lucia celebrations.

Embrace the outdoors

Sweden is renowned for its natural beauty, and Swedes take pride in their connection to the outdoors. To become a Swede, you need to embrace the Swedish lifestyle of spending time in nature. Enjoy a swim in one of the many lakes, take a walk in untouched fairy like forest, or go skiing in Åre, Riksgränsen or Sälen. You’ll freeze, but it’ll be worth it!

Swedish customs and etiquette: Don't Be a Fika Faux Pas

Fika is an essential part of Swedish culture and involves taking a break to enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry with friends or colleagues. To become truly Swedish, you need to appreciate the importance of Fika and make it a part of your daily routine. However, there are certain customs and etiquette rules to keep in mind when partaking in Fika.

For instance, it's important to take turns paying for the Fika, as the cost is typically split among the group. Additionally, it's considered rude to be late to a Fika meeting, as punctuality is highly valued in Swedish culture.

When enjoying Fika, be sure to follow these and other customs to make the most of this quintessential Swedish tradition. And don't forget to try some of the delicious pastries mentioned below!

  • Cinnamon Bun (Kanelbullar): A classic Swedish pastry made with cinnamon, sugar, and butter, usually enjoyed with a cup of coffee. Yum!
  • Semla: A sweet roll filled with almond paste and whipped cream, traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday. The swedes have taken this classic dessert a few steps further to say the least. How about kebab semla? Or pizza semla? Yes, believe it or not, both of those are real deserts made in Sweden.
  • Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake): A popular Swedish layer cake made with sponge cake, raspberry jam, whipped cream, and marzipan.
  • Chokladboll: A chocolate-coconut ball rolled in oats or sprinkles, usually enjoyed as a sweet snack with coffee.
  • Dammsugare: A chocolate-covered marzipan roll with a punny name (meaning "vacuum cleaner" in Swedish).
  • Lussekatt (Lucia Bun): A saffron-flavored bun shaped into an S, traditionally eaten on Lucia Day (December 13th).
  • Kärleksmums (Love Treats): A chocolate-coconut sponge cake with a layer of chocolate icing, often cut into small squares and served as a sweet snack.

Profiles of famous Swedes: Get to Know Your Fellow Swedes

Sweden has a rich history of producing amazing talents in fields ranging from music to sports to fashion. Here are some famous Swedes you should know:

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic: The legendary footballer known for his skill on the field and his larger-than-life personality. Recently featured in the latest Asterix & Obelix movie!
  • Tove Lo: A singer-songwriter who's known for her hit songs Habits, talking Body and Cool Girl.
  • Ingmar Bergman: A film director known for his dark and introspective movies that explore the human psyche.
  • ABBA: The popular music group that dominated the charts in the 1970s and continues to be beloved by fans all over the world. Hits include Mamma Mia, Take A Chance and Dancing Queen.
  • Greta Thunberg: The young activist who's become a leading voice in the fight against climate change.
  • Avicii: Swedish musician and DJ who rose to fame with his hit songs "Levels", "Wake Me Up" and “Hey Brother”.

Earning your Swedish license

In conclusion, becoming a Swede goes beyond obtaining citizenship or a local license (see more licensing information for Sweden: Swedish License / Svensk Licens). It's about immersing yourself in Swedish culture and adopting the country's customs and traditions. By following our guide, you'll be on your way to earning your license as a true Swede.

This article was written in cooperation with CUSL