When thinking about Swedish culture, the words that come to mind are probably Pippi Longstockings, IKEA, and Swedish meatballs. Nonetheless, Swedish culture is more versatile than that. For instance, Sweden is world famous for its traditional crafts and is highly praised for its characteristic and creative design industry. Southern Sweden, with its mysterious landscape, attracts numerous artists; a multitude of galleries and design shops may be found here. Because of the many historical sights in Västergötland, this area is often called ‘the cradle of Sweden’.
In the gastronomic field, Sweden has experienced a revolution in recent years. Swedish cuisine has opened its doors to influences from around the world. In combination with traditional dishes and natural ingredients of the highest quality – naturally with lots of fish – Swedish cuisine now enjoys international fame. As result of this, one can enjoy terrific meals there, especially in the southern part of Sweden.
Sweden is preeminently a country in which to experience the changing of the seasons. The beginning of each new season is ushered in with a traditional feast. Midsummer day (Midsommaren) in June is undoubtedly the most well known. Everywhere in the country the midsummer pole is put up, a long pole with a triangle and two circles in the top. The lot is bedecked with leaves, flowers, ribbons, and wreaths. The whole community dances and sings around the midsummer pole and enjoys a traditional meal with potatoes and herring.
The Swedish language is spoken by a little over 10 million people. The majority lives in Sweden; in Finland a minority speaks Swedish as a first language.
Swedish, like Dutch, belongs to the Germanic language group, and therefore one can find many similarities. This is certainly true for vocabulary, but to a certain extent also for grammar.
An important part of learning the Swedish language is the pronunciation. The sounds are rather different from other European languages, and it is therefore recommended to do much listening and to ‘dare to talk’. The melody and intonation is also quite distinctive. The combination of differences in intonation and emphasis ensures distinctions in meaning and contributes to the musical sounds that are so typical for the ‘singing’ Swedish.