Outside of Sweden the word “lagom” seems to be trending this year. It takes over the Danish “hygge” and I expect to see books to be written on the subject. Or, wait; could really that much be squeezed out of the word lagom? To fill an entire book? Well, if hygge could …
Lagom is not trending in Sweden. It’s always around, always with us.
The urban legend has it that lagom derives from the Vikings; sharing the meal and the mead between themselves, using the same bowl. The words supposed to have been spoken were to not eat or drink more than that it would last “laget om” – the team around. Laget om then became lagom. Alas lagom means ”just the right amount, not too little not too much”. Lagom is a balance of things. Wether used for water temperature, amount of miles travelled during holiday, how much pick-and-mix candy the kids are allowed or how many guests are to be invited lagom is the answer.
A few examples in English and in Swedish:
Is it time to leave? Yes, it’s probably (the right) time. // Är det dags att gå? Ja, det är nog lagom.
Isn’t it too cold to swim? No, it’s just about right/perfect.// Är det inte för kallt för att bada? Nej, det är lagom varmt.
Does the blouse fit you (refering to size) Yes, it’s good! // Passar blusen? Ja, den är lagom!
Is it lots to do at work at the moment? No, it’s pretty ok/the right amount of work. // Är det mycket att göra på jobbet just nu? Nej, det är ganska lagom.
The literal translation of resfeber is travel fever. No; it’s not something you catch from bacteria or a virus when traveling. On the contrary it’s a bug that hits you already while still at home, shortly before leaving. Resfeber is best described as the anticipation and anxiety you feel as you are about to enter your journey.
During summer the word “smultronställe” keeps popping up in Sweden; in conversations but especially in magazines. There are few interviews or portraits that leave out the question “where is your smultronställe?” You also find headlines and articles on the subject “top 25 smultronställen in …”
Ett smultronställe is a noun meaning that special place treasured or yet to be discovered. It could be an idyllic opening in the forest, a quiet beach, a small village, your childhood summer farm, a charming café or just about anyplace that is special to you, that you cherish and that has a special place in your heart.
“Smultron” is the sweetest of berries and translates to wild strawberry in English.
“Ställe” means place in Swedish.
ett smultron, två smultron
ett ställe, två ställen
ett smultronställe, två smultronställen
This delicious pastry is commonly known as “dammsugare” in Swedish (=vacuum cleaner) referring to the look of old vacuum cleaners. The official name is Punch-roll. It’s covered with marzipan, the interior made of yesterdays crushed cookies and cakes (as if there would be leftovers…) butter, cacao and … flavored with punch liqueur. The “dammsugare” is usually made of green marzipan but I found a pink one with a #botanical pattern.
Wordlist / ordlista