FOODS, CUSTOMS AND CULTURE OF SWEDEN
Maintaining neutrality in two world wars, and historically the benevolent ruler of parts of the Baltic, Germany, and Finland, Sweden stands today as the wealthiest, most cosmopolitan country of Northern Europe. Sweden’s population of approximately 8.5 million makes her the fourth-largest nation in Northern Europe. Despite the fact that only 9 percent of her land is arable, Sweden is almost self-sufficient in agricultural and dairy products, meats and fish due to the efficient application of the most modern techniques of fertilization, mechanization, animal and poultry production and fishing procedures. In the late 1800s, Sweden gradually emerged as one of the important industrial nations of the world, maintaining to this day a great respect in business circles and a high reputation for fine products from industrial steel to glassware and modern furniture.
The southern portions of Sweden enjoy moderate climate due to the prevailing westerly winds and the warming Gulf Stream. But the northern areas bordering on Finland and Norway and stretching into the Arctic Circle brave bitter temperatures and long dark winters, though they delight in two months of near continuous daylight. The many lakes and long rivers contribute to a great potential of hydroelectric energy of which only a portion is presently used.
Making the most of her natural resources and industrial potential is only a part of Sweden’s success story. The other part must be the Swedish people themselves. Known for their lilting musical language, which has borrowed words both from French and German roots, the Swedes are also noted for their serene dispositions. Perhaps a part of their serenity stems from confidence and pride in their country; perhaps a part stems from their ordered, relaxed daily way of life. Swedes have the enviable ability to enjoy each day and rituals are an important part of that enjoyment. Everything from coffee-drinking to skoal, from table manners to holiday festivities, follow prescribed and predictable procedures. Most Swedes are Lutheran, and their relaxed attitudes also extend into their religious life.