Have you ever noticed that Swedes are either on or off – 100% into something or not interested at all? I first realized this phenomenon when I worked for a ski season in Åre and tried to get a date in what American fighter pilots call a “target rich environment”. I was forever getting knocked back because the answer was “I’m working tomorrow”. My English attitude was to scoff at this and wonder why they just couldn’t turn up to work with a hangover, but no, they were working tomorrow and that was it.
All alcohol is consumed in the weekends
This attitude permeates through all aspects of Swedish life and not just their attitude to the workplace. Have you ever been out on a mid-week evening in a Swedish city? They are ghost towns and the clubs and bars are only the territory of the alcoholics. However, come Friday and they are bustling with life and the only way people go home is horizontal. The same attitude applies for drinking at home. A glass of wine with dinner on a Wednesday night? No way! Save it for Friday and Saturday, when we’ll get so drunk it will be Sunday afternoon before I can remember my own name.
Just look at Swedish industry and life – it is the same there. Cars (beige airbags on wheels or super car monsters), furniture (flat-packed nonsense or classic everlasting masterpieces), sports (number one for years or super mediocre journeymen), music (world renowned number one artist or elevator music), holidays (constant work followed by an orgy of freedom in July) or even politics (middle ground indistinguishable blandness, then suddenly the far right).
I believe that there is one single cause of this on / off mentality and that is Lördags godis. This literally translated is Saturday Candy, the idea that children are not allowed any sweets during the week and that they must eat nothing than moose steaks and smoked fish, but on Saturday they can do wild in the pick and mix and drain as much sugar and e-numbers that their little stomachs can take. It is a god given right for every Swedish child to be driven to the local supermarket or sweet store, to fill up paper bags with sweets and then to bounce around like a power ball on speed, high on sugar for the rest of the day. Lördags godis affects teenagers and young adults in many ways, not least of all, in their attitude to alcohol.
Now I’m not going to make any friends here and have lots of angry letters drop into my inbox, but I don’t see what is wrong giving the odd glass of wine or beer to say 16 years olds. In the company of responsible adults, what is wrong with letting your young adults have a glass of wine with the family, round the dinner table? The Swedish attitude is that teenagers should not experience alcohol until they turn 18 – which results in the Lördags godis attitude of not coming out of the bar until you are thrown out. 18 year olds have no idea how to handle drink, what drink suits them or even how to enjoy a drink in moderation. 18 year olds are welcomed home by their parents on their birthday with a glint of admiration in their parent’s eyes and a bucket by their bed. The “English” attitude that the pub is the centre of the community, a place where all ages can congregate, get jobs, medical advice and integrate into the area is so foreign thanks to Lördags godis.
This begs the question that if it wasn’t for The Lördags Godis Attidue would Björn, Benny, Agneta and Frida have the self discipline to sit down and write hit after hit; would Ingvar Kamprad had the single mindedness to sell furniture in flat pack or wether Christian von Koenigsegg would have built a car that is recognised as one of the most “on” cars in the world?