By Germanic standards, most Swedes, like the rest of the Nordic nations, have liberal, cosmopolitan, secular, egalitarian, and ecological ideals. This protects Western visitors from potential cultural conflicts in other nations. Some stringent etiquette standards, on the other hand, are virtually unique to the Swedish people.
- Though drugs are not uncommon, most Swedes, young and old, are fiercely opposed to them. Possession and intoxication with non-medical substances (including cannabis) result in a fine and a criminal record entry. The police have the authority to compel a suspected drug user to provide a urine or blood sample.
- Swedes are as contradictory as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when it comes to booze. One drink before work or driving is too much. Drunkenness, on the other hand, may be a regular element of many Swedish customs (e.g., Midsommar, Valborg, etc.) – bear this in mind if you abstain from alcohol. Some Swedes frown on individuals who are sober during a party and reject explanations other than driving or being pregnant.
- The Swedish people value their privacy and personal space. Salespeople, waiters, and other service workers are often less attentive than their counterparts in other countries when it comes to respecting clients’ privacy, with the exception of a brief “hej” to entering customers. Customers are expected to request assistance. When boarding a bus or other mode of public transportation, it is generally considered rude to sit next to another person if another twin seat is available.
- It is traditional in most households to remove your shoes. Whether you just assume that you must remove them upon entrance, you will have done the correct thing in most instances, but you could check to see if other visitors have left theirs by the front door. Bring indoor shoes if you are dressed up and feel naked without them, since many of the visitors will. Wearing outside shoes may also be appropriate at more formal events. Indoor shoes may also be carried for warmth (particularly at cottages and similar establishments): most Swedish houses have wood floors; wall-to-wall carpeting is rare.
- Despite rumors of the “Swedish vice,” public nudity is usually frowned upon in Sweden, save on designated nudist beaches. If you are above the age of four, do not go skinny-dipping on public beaches. Female toplessness is tolerated but rare in public baths. Public breastfeeding is a protected right that may be exercised anywhere, even business meetings and high-end restaurants. Male toplessness is acceptable in the country and at the beach, although it may be frowned upon in cities.
- Greetings between men and women who know each other (e.g., are close friends, relatives, etc.) are often expressed with a hug. Swedes do not welcome with a cheek kiss, but are aware that other cultures do. If you cheek-kiss a Swede as a tourist from France, they will reciprocate the gesture but will probably feel a little uncomfortable doing so.
- Arrive on time for meetings and meals, ideally five minutes before the scheduled time. In Sweden, there is no such thing as “fashionably late.” Arriving early for a private invitation, on the other hand, is considered impolite. If arriving late is allowed, it is typically stated explicitly (e.g., “…arrive after 1700”) or there are established norms (some universities apply an “akademisk kvart”, an academic quarter hour, within which it is acceptable to arrive to lectures).
- Homosexuality is tolerated in Sweden. Same-sex weddings have legal status in Sweden as of May 2009. Because Sweden has anti-discrimination and hate crime legislation, the chances of encountering severe criticism or homophobia are minimal. Violence against gays and lesbians is very uncommon.
- Sweden is a multiethnic nation. Make no judgments about individuals based on their looks. Racism, sexism, and homophobia will be greeted with hatred on the outside. Even little preferences may be observed and recorded.
- Begging was formerly unheard of in contemporary Sweden. Beggars from the Balkans (usually of Roma descent) may be found in most towns and cities as of 2015. Begging, as well as giving money to beggars, is allowed in Sweden, and the majority of begging transactions are unobtrusive.
- Hunting and wildlife management are contentious topics in Sweden, particularly when it comes to the number of wolves and other predators. People in the rural have strong feelings about the issue.
Sweden – a country of numbers
Swedish people are known for their rigidity and organization. Almost everything has a number attached to it. Swedish citizens have a ten-digit personal identification number (beginning with the date of birth in the format YYMMDD) that they use when interacting with various government agencies, and it is typically stated before their name. Customers at Swedish stores and banks must get a queue number note from a computer in order to be serviced in order. At Systembolaget, each product is recognized by its product number (which is frequently simpler to remember than foreign-sounding names), and the most significant factor in choosing is the alcohol level (often divided by price to find the most cost-efficient product). If you order a cocktail at a bar, be prepared to specify how much liquor you want in centiliters. Most supermarkets sell milk with four or more fat content levels (including organic versions, barista milk, and low lactose milk, not to mention filmjölk, yoghurt, and all other milk products). Swedes monitor the air temperature before stepping outside, and they check the water temperature before swimming in open water. Many Swedes also possess barometers, hygrometers, and rain gauges to add data to the never-ending discussion about weather. Swedes identify their apartments by the number of rooms (En trea – “a three” – is simply a three-room-and-kitchen flat) and often ask each other about the size per square meter. They have week numbers ranging from one to fifty-two. IKEA, the world’s most renowned furniture store, deviates from this trend with Nordic product names.