Utskrift från Malmö högskolas webbplats www.mah.se

About Sweden and the Swedes

Facts about Sweden
The Climate
Public holidays and traditional festivities
Understanding the Swedes

Facts about Sweden

Area: 450 000 km²
Longest north-south distance: 1574 km
Longest east-west distance: 499 km
Population: 9.7 million inhabitants
Capital: Stockholm
Currency: 1 krona (SEK) = 100 öre
Religion: 82 % belong to the Lutheran Church of Sweden
Constitution: Constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy
Parliament: The Riksdag, with 349 members in one chamber
Head of state: King Carl XVI Gustaf
Head of government: Prime Minister Stefan Löfvén, leader of the Social Democratic Party


More information: www.sweden.se 

The Climate

Despite its northern latitude, Sweden has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons and mild temperatures throughout the year. Sweden is much warmer and drier than other places at a similar latitude, and even somewhat further south, mainly because of the Gulf Stream. For example, central and southern Sweden has much warmer winters than many parts of Russia, Canada, and the northern United States. 

Malmö has very unpredictable weather, with sunny summer conditions sometimes rapidly changing to damp, showery conditions and vice versa!

The winter is fairly long with lots of wind and frost. December, January and February are the coldest and rainiest months of the year. Snow is very infrequent.

Suitable clothing for the climate  

Outdoor clothes should be warm and water proof. Bring a winter scarf, hat and gloves since it can be cold and windy. Shoes should be warm and suitable for varied weather conditions. During spring/summer months outdoor clothes are lighter. 

Public holidays and traditional festivities

New Year’s Day (Nyårsdagen) 1 January

Epiphany Eve (Trettondagsafton) 5 January

Epiphany Day (Trettondagen) 6 January

Good Friday (Långfredagen) in March or April

Easter Sunday (Påskdagen)

Easter Monday (Annandag Påsk)

May Day (Första maj) 1 May

Ascension Day (Kristi Himmelfärdsdag) always on a Thursday in May

Whit Sunday (Pingstdagen) in May or June

National Day of Sweden (Nationaldagen) 6 June

Midsummer Day (Midsommardagen) towards the end of June.

All Saints’ Day (Allhelgonadagen) always on a Saturday in early November

Christmas Eve (Julafton) 24 December

Christmas Day (Juldagen) 25 December

Boxing Day (Annandag jul) 26 December

New Year’s Eve (Nyårsafton) 31 December


Sweden has a lot of traditional festivities like Waffle Day, Midsummer, Crayfish parties and Lucia. To find out how to celebrate the Swedish way, please visit www.sweden.se/culture-traditions

Understanding the Swedes

Why do Swedes behave the way we do? Below you find some hints that can make your stay in Sweden a little bit easier.

Be on Time

Both at work and in social life, Swedes are usually very punctual. One exception to this rule is the so-called ‘academic quarter’, which only exists at the university. If a lecture for example is posted to start at 10:00, in fact it starts at 10:15. But not all lecturers apply to this phenomenon, so please ask to be on the safe side!

Taking your shoes off

This really is a strange habit to most foreigners… When you visit somebody’s home, you will usually take off your outdoor shoes right at the entrance. It is quite normal to walk around in your socks only, even if you did not think so!

Social life in Sweden

There is a saying that Swedes are reserved and difficult to get to know. We have to admit that this may be true (especially during the dark months). Student activities will hopefully give you the opportunity to make friends. Do not be afraid to seek contact with people and to take the initiative, it will be greatly appreciated. 

Paying the bill

After grabbing a beer with your friends or after having a wonderful dinner with the man/woman of your dreams, you will realise that picking up the tab is an unknown phenomenon in Sweden. The bill is usually split according to how much you ate and drank. You are welcome to give some extra tip if you feel like it.

Answering the phone

What do you say when you pick up the receiver? Just ‘Hello’? In Sweden this is considered as impolite. Commonly Swedes answer directly with name or phone number, so do not be surprised.

Queues/lines

Besides punctuality Swedes are known to be law abiding and very fond of forming queues. Whenever you are waiting for something; at the cinema, to pay in a shop etc, you are supposed to wait in a proper queue. Almost no excuse is good enough to push your way forward in the queue. A modern version is a system with queue tickets (a little piece of paper with a number indicating when it is your turn). This gives you the liberty to move around freely while you are waiting. So if there is a queue ticket machine, do not forget to take a ticket and look for a number display!

We have tried to give you some hints on how to behave in Sweden. During your stay you might realise that some of the above mentioned may not be accurate and other things are exactly the way we describe it.

Welcome to Sweden and enjoy your stay!

Last updated by Maria Nilsson