The Swedish Foundation

My Grandpa Carl Quist was my first-hand example of Swedish culture. He came to America from Sweden when he was a teenager. I “googled” Swedish culture and sure enough…sounds like Grandpa. Here are a few cultural customs that Swedes are noted for that I think contributed to my “foundations”.

Swedes love their coffee. Of all my memories of Grandpa this is the major one. He would start the day with the cold leftover coffee, put a spoon of sugar in his mouth and then sip the cold coffee through the sugar. Ick! I never did that but I sure do enjoy that first cup of coffee. …and my Mom!? She always had a cup of coffee at her side. Coffee was the major drink for all family affairs on the Swedish side, that is until it was time for beer!

Joan and Renee at Midsommer
celebration in Baraboo, WI 2018

Swedes love to celebrate holidays and special events. Birthdays are special events starting with early morning singing and cake. Midsommer, the longest day of the year, finds Swedes gathering in the park to make flower wreaths and decorate flagpoles to dance around pretending to be frogs! St. Lucia day is observed with candles and singing (Santa Lucia), a beautiful evening ceremony. In 2018 my family experienced the Midsommer celebration where we made our wreaths to wear and then dance and sing around the pole.

Swedes don’t like conflict. For sure this is true. I avoid conflict. This is the culture of the family. No shouting, screaming arguments. Walk away, bottle it up. As I think about my Mom’s siblings, 12 of them, they were all pretty soft-spoken. Grandpa was the perfect example of soft voice, no small talk. I don’t recall arguments …oh wait! Grandma Quist could raise her voice pretty good and you did not want to cross her….she’s from the United Kingdom/ American line!

Swedes have a word, lagom, meaning just enough or moderation in all things. They feel it in their bones. I think this is a strong part of my cultural foundations, this is how I am. I have kind of an internal “bar” that keeps me from passionately going all out on activities, conversations…I hold back from getting “too involved”. Probably not a good thing, should let my hair down a bit more!

1 thought on “The Swedish Foundation”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s