Did you know that you can’t buy beverages with more than 3.5 % alcohol in a regular supermarket anywhere in Sweden?
In fact you won’t be able to buy alcohol in any other store either, except for Systembolaget (or ”Systemet”, as Swedes often call it).
Let me tell you a little bit about Systembolaget and why we only have this one store that can sell alcohol with a higher percentage (actually it’s a store chain that’s operated through franchise).
The main purpose of maintaining this state owned alcohol monopoly store is to reduce and control alcohol consumption. “Out of date and too controlling” says one customer, “helpful and secure” says another.
Rules and limitations
You must be 20 years of age and have a Swedish ID to be able to buy alcoholic beverages in “Systemet”.
It is an ”institution” (if you wish) that is state-owned and state-run. It is also, by many, both respected and beloved, even though quite a few people find it too controlling and too limiting.
”Systemet” would never offer discounts or any other offers, nor stay open outside the quite restrictive opening hours (same everywhere).
Developments and adjustments
For some 30 years now customers are allowed to browse the store freely and on their own, as compared to before when shoppers were obliged to ask Systembolaget’s staff for a specific product.
The last store to be transformered to a self-service store was inaugurated in 2014 in the outskirts of Stockholm.
Purposes and goals
Systembolaget aims to be responsible and responsive, both to new customer behaviours and to educate the staff.
They show it e.g. by giving that little extra attention to the customer, wich includes advicing about drinking safely and how to pair alcohol with food.
Born in and raised in Storuman and Tärnaby, former World Cupalpine racer Ingemar Stenmark grew up to become one of the most admired and respected athletes in the history of Sweden.
Being born in 1956 Ingemar joins a group of prominent athletes called “the 56:ers”, alongside former tennis champion Björn Borg and ice hockey-legend Börje Salming among others.
Stenmark began skiing at the age of five and had his first national victory just three years later. He made his World Cup debut in 1973 and took an impressive 86 gold medals, wich is more than any other alpine skier has won – until 2022, when Mikaela Shiffrin beat the rekord (and was congratulated by her idol, Ingemar Stenmark).
World Cup wins: 46 giant slalom, 40 slalom.
Olympic medals: gold in Lake Placid 1980 (giant slalom and slalom), bronze in Innsbruck 1976 (giant slalom).
World Championships: gold in 1978 (giant slalom and slalom), gold in 1982 (slalom), silver in 1982 (giant slalom).
Swedish championships: 4 wins giant slalom, 5 wins slalom.
Fair Play-award in 1976
When Ingemar retired he moved to Monaco (1986-2006) with former wife Ann Uvhagen. In 2016 he got re-married to Tarja Olli, with whom he had his second child (a daughter, born 2008).
At the age of 40 Stenmark was a fit as ever as he participated in the Swedish Superstars championship (1996) – which he of course won 1996. In 2011 he also won a similar competition and tv-produktion called “Mästarnas mästare”.
Four years later (2015) Ingemar teamed up with professional dancer Cecilia Ehrling in the Swedish version of “Dancing with the Stars” (in Swedish “Let’s Dance”) – where he of course won.
Ever heard of “the Swedish chef” from Sesame Street? He’s hilarious but I’m not sure he can really cook. At least not as well as the Swedish chefs that I admire and who are well known all over the world.
Famous Swedish chefs
Marcus Samuelsson – Swedish chef working in New York where he’s the head chef at “Aquavit”. He’s cooked for royalties, presidents and movie stars but most of all – he’s grounded, humid and extremely talented!
Fredrik Berselius – Swedish chef also working in New York where he runs his own restaurant “Aska” (ashes). After only one year in the big apple he earned his first Michelin star!
Sweden is famous for shrimp sandwiches, smörgåsbord (smorgasbord), pickled herring, semlor and cinnamon buns.
The westcoast of Sweden is known for its seafood and fresh fish. A quite common meal to have on a Friday night, or on a date, is fresh shrimp with newly baked pain riche, boiled eggs, mayonnaise (or aioli), dill and lettuce. This is usually accompanied by a glass of chilled white wine.
The more traditional Swedish dishes, “husmanskost”, is the type of food that the farmers would eat after a hard days of work. Typical “husmanskost” would be cale pudding with minced meat, meatballs with boiled potatoes and brown sauce and smoked herring with parsley, mashed potatoes and skimmed butter.
Sweden has been a monarchy for more than a thousand years, with approximately seventy kings ruling during this time. The present king, Carl XVI Gustaf, was inaugurated in 1973 and is the 74:th regent on the throne.
The Swedish king is of French heritage. The Bernadotte’s have been on the Swedish throne since 1818. Before, it was only male monarchs who could inherite the crown. This rule was changed in 1980, which means that Crown Princess Victoria will be our next regent.
The Crown Princess will, if she ascends to the throne as expected, become the fourth queen regnat in Sweden after Queen Margaret, Queen Christina and Queen Ulrika Eleonora.
The Crown Princess and her spouse, Prince Daniel, are used to attend to various official engagemens. They are both highly respected and much liked representatives of Sweden, both abroad and at home.
In 2016 The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed The Crown Princess a member of Sustainable Development Goals Advocates for Agenda 2030. Since then, The Crown Princess primarily works with issues concerning health and water.
In Sweden there is an old tradition of having “sill and nubbe” at Christmas, as well as at Easter time and Midsummer. We actually eat and drink very similar during these three holidays.
“Sill” and “nubbe” is pickled herring and snaps, or a shot (e. g vodka). Usually the “nubbe”, or snaps, is spiced with cumin, citrus or some other quite peppery spices. It can also be completely clear like “Absolut Vodka”, a very strong Swedish alcoholic beverage (40%).
The pickled herring, or “sill”, is usually spiced with e.g mustard, curry, citrus or peppers and is served with boiled potatoes, sour cream, chives and a “nubbe”. At Christmas the “sill and nubbe” is usually accompanied by home made meatballs, sausages, Christmas ham, patés, cale salads and much more.
Since the traditional Swedish Christmas dishes are quite salty we often round it off with a sweet dessert called “ris a la Malta”. It is kind of like rise pudding, only we serve it with jam or sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top. On top of that there is all the candy and chocolate…
Merry Christmas, or as we say in Swedish – God Jul! ☃️🎄☃️