Swedes & Norwegians

Saga Vanacek, the young woman who found a Viking sword in a Swedish lake, has written her story. She is commendably practical about her future plans, and has refused the offer to be Queen of Scandinavia.

This month, the archaeologists finally came to search the rest of the lake and they found a brooch that is as old as my sword, and a coin from the 18th century. Then they announced the news and I could finally tell everyone at school. I came back from gym class and the whiteboard said, “Saga’s sword” and there were balloons, and the whole class got to have ice-cream.

I had to give the sword to the local museum – Daddy explained that it’s part of history and important to share it with others. I felt “boo” that it’s gone away, but “yay” that other people will get to see it. I’m going to try to raise some money to make a replica sword that I can keep.

People on the internet are saying I am the queen of Sweden, because in the legend of King Arthur, he was given a sword by a lady in a lake, and that meant he would become king. I am not a lady – I’m only eight – but it’s true I found a sword in the lake. I wouldn’t mind being queen for a day, but when I grow up I want to be a vet. Or an actor in Paris.

Balloons and ice cream are much better than being royalty. I approve.

If you wish you could be a true master of aplomb, you should follow these lessons in how to be more Swedish.

1. Drink a lot of coffee.
Even if you think you drink a lot of coffee, double it right now and still not out-do the average Swede. We drink more coffee than anyone in the world, (except the Finns). Go for strong filter coffee.

2. When you get up in the morning, follow this ritual:
2 slices of crisp bread, 1-2 boiled eggs, a squirt of Kalles creamed cod roe with your eggs. Some sliced cheese, if you are feeling fancy. Drink a large glass of milk. Coffee.

There is a lot more, of course. Much of it seems to be about coffee and food. I speak from experience: this is all true. My wife is 100% Scandinavian (I’m only 50%), and I’ve noticed that she consumes twice as much coffee as I do, and she drinks it twice as fast. Must be genetic.

Or, if you’d prefer, you can aspire to the rigors of being more Norwegian. It’s not easy, but you can look forward to looking down on Swedes. This was also true of my family — even the ones who were half-Swedish liked to tease the Swedes with 20 Swedes ran through the weeds chased by one Norwegian. They overlooked that the song mainly praises the Irish, because as we all know, Knut Rokne is a good Norwegian.

Somehow, the attitude or Norwegian superiority survives the Law of Jante, which Saga Vanacek follows without a moment’s thought.

Warning: I grew up with the Scandinavian customs of a century ago, so traveling to Norway and discovering that they’re now committing the heresy of hot dogs on their lefse was a shock. Cultures change.

By the way, you could also try to be more Finnish, but that would be weird. Only true Finns want to be more Finnish. They wouldn’t have it any other way.


  1. Ketil Tveiten says

    Don’t blaspheme, no madman would put their pølse in lefse, everyone knows that lompe is the proper wrapping!

    (For the uninitiated: lefse is a wheat-based thin soft bread, lompe is a potato-based thin soft bread. Lompe is also by far superior as a sausage-wrapping to the tasteless flabby white bread-like substance typically used in “hot dogs”.)

  2. mountainbob says

    On my first visit to Oslo (1962) while on leave from our army in Germany (still an occupation army at that point), I was pleased to find my meager funds rescued by hot-dog-n-lefsa stands with mustard!
    There’s an old wife’s tale about Scandinavians: Norwegian mothers cautioned their boys against messing with Swedish girls. No good could come of it! If they married, they would be unable to have children because of the racial differences. And, if they should manage to bear a child, it would be sterile (like a mule). Even worse! Any children would be so confused by the differences between the Norwegian Lutheran Church and the Swedish Lutheran Church that they might turn Catholic! The horror!
    By the bye; on more recent visits, we’ve discovered that lefse is hard-to-find in restaurants and even in super markets. Uff da!

  3. mailliw says

    The great Finnish film director Aki Kaurismäki was asked in an interview about the Finns’ lack of smalltalk to which he replied, “yes, foreigners often ask me how I am, but by the time I have the time to think about it properly they have usually gone away”.

  4. ospalh says

    Saga seems to agree with Monty Python’s Dennis the anarcho-syndicalist: “[S]trange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.”

  5. keinsignal says

    Funny, I just recently learned that apparently I carry a significant (and previously unsuspected) number of Finnish genes, via my Dad. I’d say this explains a lot – like Stephen Wright, I need a cup of coffee or two in the morning just to get ready to have a cup of coffee – except he hardly ever drinks the stuff at all… Maybe it skips a generation?