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Culture & Identity of Sweden

Introduction

Swedish Culture - Village life
Village life

Despite being a fairly large landmass, nearly everyone in Sweden lives in a city; in fact about 85% of the people live in cities. However, with long winter nights it makes sense to be close to a city where there is more to do than just hide in your house for month at a time.

Today Sweden is very modern and urbanized as nearly all amenities and jobs are located in Stockholm and other cities. Most of the working population is employed in the services sector, which includes jobs from finance to being a server at a restaurant. Obviously each job dictates a variation on the daily way of life, but for most people, they have a fairly regular work schedule that begins at about 9:00 am and ends at about 5:00 pm.

Children also have a fairly regular schedule as most schools operate from about 7:00 am to about 4:00 pm. Education is very important to the Swedes and schools run from about late August to early June. For many families with children, their lives revolve around their children, from school work and after-school activities to summer time off.

How the Swedes spend their free time depends on a number of factors, but one of the most important is dictated by the seasons and weather. During the long dark winters going out for a drink, dinner, or dancing is common, but getting outdoors is less frequent, except by those winter sports lovers, of which there are a lot relative to many countries. However, the summers offer long days and most people and families take advantage by getting outside to enjoy nature, play a sport, shop, or anything else. It's also during the summer months when school are off that most Swedes take time off of work and go on vacation, whether that's to another location in Sweden or abroad.

Identity

In general, the Swedes identify as such, but how this is defined is slowly changing. In the past being Swedish was based on ethnicity, language, and culture, but today numerous immigrants are arriving and also identifying as "Swedes," therefore slightly altering the definition of what it means to be Swedish; shifting from an ethnicity- and language-based definition to a more nationality-based definition. Additionally, the Sami (or Lapp), who primarily live in the northern part of the country, generally identify as being Sami, not as being Swedish, and this identity is almost wholly based on ethnicity, but also based on their language and culture.

This page was last updated: May, 2014