Category Archives: Swedish traditions & culture

Swedish via Skype

Do you want to learn Swedish but don’t really feel you have the time to go to a class? Perhaps there is not even a class to go to where you are!

Are you learning Swedish but feel you do not get enough quality time and practice in class?

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As an individual having experienced crowded schedules in a corporate as well as a stay-at-home mom world I know the value of accessible competent and professional assistance. As an ex-expatriate I also appreciate the value of getting powerful and appropriate language training – including cultural references – to be able to build stronger relationships at the workplace, and to reach a quicker and higher degree of integration in a new society. And who does not want to be able to manage in the local language while on vacation, or just have one country and  a language that has that special place in one’s heart?

You are most probably aware of the many benefits of learning a language.  Here is an article on the subject.

Curious to find out what difference my services have made to my customers’ Swedish language knowledge? Find out here how my tutoring have helped my customers to get confident speaking Swedish!

Go to my page lessons to learn more about Swedish via Skype.

the Swedish Semla

Today is Fettisdagen. Let me decode that into National Day of the Semla. Now it´s all clear, right?

Semla is a sweet chubby wheat bun, cardamom laden, filled with golden almond paste and whipped cream. Originally semla was only eaten on Shrove Tuesday, as a last blissful treat before Lent. Today we know better and eat semlor (we need to go into plural here) all winter long. Fettisdagen has gone from being the only day to enjoy our precious pastry to the day you must enjoy at least one of them. Because as you all know we have fika (coffee break) at work. That means you are likely to down your first semla already by ten in the morning.

Semlor can be bought in every bakery, grocery store or gas station in Sweden. Sometimes you make your own.

If you make it past the photos below, find out how I make my Swedish fika treats; semlor recipe to follow; in English. If you want to practice your Swedish language I suggest you google “recept semla” and follow the instructions in Swedish.

recept semla

There are ready made buns (albeit a bit flat) in the store, made just for semlor. Link if you don´t. 🙂
•Cut off the tops, scoop out the center of 8 buns, and put it in a food processor.
•Add 125g of almonds and 1 dl confectioners’ sugar and GO!
•Pour 1 dl heated milk into the mixture making it that special heavenly paste.
•Fill up the holes abundantly with the almond indulgence and top up with whipped cream.
•Put the lid back on and dust with confectioners’ sugar.


If you use Us cups, add some almonds and use half of a cup of confectioners’ sugar and milk.

Happy baking!


Välkommen februari; but please stay away vabruari

February in Sweden is a month of both pleasure and pain – pleasure as in winter break (Sportlov) with possible skiing, and pain as in the month when kids apparently get sick the most – it is the peak month of parents staying at home from work to care for sick children.

The winter break is known as Sportlov, and occurs from week 7 to week 12 depending on where in Sweden you live. If the Sportlov is in February we also call it Februarilov. Week numbers? What?

Ok; back to the topic of February. Recall the sick children?

When parents take leave of absence from work to care for a sick child it is called

“Vård av sjukt barn.” = care of sick child in Swedish.

An abbreviation hereof is VAB (Vård Av sjukt Barn)

In everyday Swedish language these words have become a verb; “att vabba” = to “vabba”

“Jag måste vabba idag” means that I have to take leave of absence to care for my sick kid; well, you get the picture; we need a shorter way of saying it since a sick child leaves little room for long talks.

Remember the word februari (=the month of February) from the text above? Put together what you have learnt from the info above and you will understand why we sometimes jokingly refer to it as “vabruari”. Even if it is no joke.

And yes, I posted a photo of my tulips instead of a sick child.


You have probably heard of Lucia; the Queen of Light who brightens the dark morning of December 13 in Sweden.

In short the tradition consists of a procession ( ett luciatåg) with a Lucia up front, followed by handmaidens (tärnor), star boys (stjärngossar), brownies and elves (pepparkaksgubbar och tomtenissar). All but the brownies and elves wear white gowns. Lucia wears a light crown/wreath whereas the handmaidens each carry a candle. Lights can be battery operated; more likely the younger the children in the procession.

Lucia in Sweden
ett luciatåg

There is beautiful singing. Either it really is, or you are a parent. These Lucia processions can be enjoyed at every preschool and school, and sometimes even at workplaces. Most towns have an official procession visiting hospitals and elderly, malls and libraries. There is also a national broadcast. You can find the Lucia concert broadcast on SVT. Search for Luciamorgon.

Want to know more? Watch Lucia for Dummies.

Swedish Lucia For Dummies from Sweden on Vimeo.


Svenska språket innehåller en hel del mat-uttryck. Känner du till uttrycken nedan?

Peppar, peppar! = Ta i trä. Knock on wood.

Lätt som en plätt! Easy as a pie!

Ge/få igen för gammal ost. / Ge/få betalt för gammal ost. To get even with someone (who has wronged you in the past).

Att smöra för någon. To butter someone up.

Att äta kakan och ha den kvar. To have your cake and eat it too.

Att komma upp sig i smöret. = Att få det bättre/riktigt bra

Inte för allt smör i Småland!= Inte till något pris; aldrig.

Grädden på moset! Cream of the crop!

Att koka soppa på en spik. To make something out of nothing/ very little.

Nu är det kokta fläsket stekt. The goose is cooked.

De är lika goda kålsupare. They are equally bad (behaviour).

Att ha rent mjöl i påsen. To have a clear conscience.

Klart som korvspad. = Kristallklart. Clear as a crystal.

Det äter mig ur huset! Eat you out of house and home.

Alla äggen i en korg. All your eggs in one basket.

Att gråta över spilld mjölk. To cry over spilled milk.

Att ta det med en nypa salt. To take something with a grain of salt.

Fyll på med fler i kommentarerna om du kommer på något!

Alla äggen i en korg.

Nu kan du förhoppningvis några ny mat-uttryck! Vill du lära dig fler uttryck? Här har jag samlat några som har med “öga” att göra.

Skämt och vitsar

Det kan vara väldigt klurigt att förstå skämt och ordvitsar på ett främmande språk. Ofta har några av orden dubbla betydelser, eller så leker man med uttalet.

Förstår du de här?

Hur ser man att en bil kommer från Tyskland? Det “german” inte.

Jag har köpt en spansk bil. El bil.

Att boka rum i Italien är inte lätt om man heter Uno Persson.

Jag såg precis en bil med en hund i! Det var en tax-i.

Tänk om Facebook funnits när ryssarna sköt upp hunden. Undrar hur många som hade Lajkat.

Varför är det ingen snö på gatorna i Glasgow? De har miljontals invånare; alla skottar. 

Hur gick det med Elons raket och hans rymdresa? Den blev uppskjuten.

Vilket djur är världens största? En-orm. 

Vilket land har det billigaste köttet? Ko-rea.

Jag friade till min flickvän på Ishotellet. Hon blev fru-sen.

Jag mötte en arbetslös skådespelare. Vad gör han då? Spelar ingen roll.

Jag tappade mobilen i havet. Tur att den har simkort.

Vad kallas en trasig iPhone? Äppelpaj.

Vad kallas en nyanställd på McDonalds? “Nyburgare”!

Varför kan man inte lyssna på Springsteen i dina hörlurar? De är Bruce-reducerande.

Blir du inte trött av att spela så mycket schack? Jo, jag blir matt.

Har du lockigt hår? Självfallet.

Hur vet du att laxen vägde 6 kilo? Det kom en våg.

Har du en pool i inomhus? Nej, men damm under sängen. 

Ska vi åka och spela biljard ikväll? Nej, det är alltid så långa köer.

Är det här jag ska stoppa in bensinslangen? Ja, det är det som är tanken. 


Hur många människor finns det i Tyskland? Görmany!

Vad kallas en skilsmässa i Göteborg? Päronsplitt!

Vilken är den största risken med Alperna? De’ e la vin?