Lagom an important Swedish concept

It went so fast. One cannot completely grasp it, but we have a spring feeling in our cold country. We went from -18 to +8°C in one week, so we really did not have the time to let it sink in. The snow melted at a furious pace and most of us removed skates and skis to make room for bicycles and boats…

The weather

Do you know what we, Swedes, love to talk about? The weather! The weather is probably in the top of the list when it comes to small talk in Sweden. Why? My statistically not validated analysis is that we live in the country ‘Lagom’. It is difficult to translate, but let us say: just right. With that, I mean that it is a 'lagom' dangerous topic to talk about the weather. We cannot influence it. We can just be horrified by the bad weather and rejoice the sun. I am completely convinced that I have asked every wonderful customer what the local weather is like and everyone responded kindly. It is a bit difficult when you come down to Spain to ask what kind of weather they have during the summer. It does not feel like an equally common question.

Country lagom

Country Lagom or Country Just Right… I do not really think that most people like the definition country Lagom. Don’t you want to stand out a bit? Be somebody special? And not be a five on a scale from 1 to 10? What is lagom then? For us Swedes it is probably one of the most common words. If we want to describe something as if we have had enough food, how cold or hot something is. It is perfect, just as it should be lagom. My wonderful colleagues are always dissatisfied with the temperature in the office. One thinks it is too cold and the other one too hot. So it is never lagom. I am convinced that lagom is one of the words children learn first after mom, dad, dog, cat, candy, precisely because the word is so useful.

Do not talk with me

It is probably common knowledge - if you know some Swedes - that we are no small talkers (if we do not want to sell something). On the bus, we prefer to sit by ourselves. When someone addresses us, we turn a little awkwardly looking in the other direction to see if it really is me, they are addressing. Is it a general attitude? I do not know, but I clearly feel that we are not on the small talk top list when compared to countries in southern Europe. We do not even have an arsenal of polite and nice questions like those that one has in Spain. We do not even like to park our car near someone else's. My mother cannot even parallel park. I mean that our population density looks different in our long country, which means that we have done well with the villagers and have not had to talk to them from the city.

I can probably say that it is one of the Swedes' biggest fears to have to chat with a stranger for a period longer than 20 minutes. We ask each other how we are feeling, but dive if someone answers that it is not so good. Then we must use our non-existent small talk skills not to sound too rude and end the conversation. I still remember an incident many years ago when a male friend was stuck on a beach in Daytona beach. The rest of us laughed until we cried. Then an American came up and wondered what we were laughing at. She wanted to join in the fun. A super Swede would never do that. The super Swede would glance a little from the side, absolutely not stare and never go and ask. It is the country lagom, stay discreet in the middle, do not brag, be humble, of course we think we are super best but we do not tell. Zlatan is sooo non-Swedish but we still love him.

 

SHARE