Earlier this week, social media users were surprised to come across a Reddit thread where a person recalled having to wait in his friend’s room while the family ate their dinner downstairs.
“I remember going to my Swedish friend’s house. And while we were playing in his room, his mom yelled that dinner was ready. And check this. He told me to WAIT in his room while they ate,” one user recalled.
“I slept over a friends house. When we woke up, he said he was going downstairs for a few minutes. After about 15 minutes, I go on the stairs to see what’s happening and they are eating breakfast. They see me and tell me he has almost done and will be up there soon. I still think about it 25 years later,” another user shared.
Understandably, since the Reddit post surfaced on Twitter, #SwedenGate has gone viral.
Sorry I can’t make our meeting in the morning I found out it’s weird to feed your guest dinner in Sweden so obviously I had to read 500 people discuss it until 3AM
— Maggie Mae Fish 🐟 (@MaggieMaeFish) May 29, 2022
swedish kids alone in the upstairs bedroom while his friend is in the kitchen eating dinner pic.twitter.com/BUjXBUJtmd
— joe (@maloonds) May 30, 2022
Seeing white ppl debate feeding a guest dinner is so funny this is simply not up for discussion in any brown community
— mina (@kiranmayeet) May 29, 2022
my parents would skip dinner if we had a guest over for dinner ESPECIALLY A CHILD they would sacrifice their plate to make sure they eat 😭 https://t.co/67M7f0YiM0
— Laisus (@laisusYt) May 30, 2022
This Swedish dinner guest thing is hilarious to me bc the first thing you hear when you walk into a filipino house is DID YOU EAT?!?
— Bince 🏀 (@snailbites) May 30, 2022
This is so weird bc I come from a culture where ppl will stuff u with food if ur a guest https://t.co/Nmz7s5MRaG
— Mickie @ Illustration | HXH IS BACK (@MOLENAIDE) May 29, 2022
The confusion and surprise was only fuelled by Swedish pop star Zara Larsson, who seemingly confirmed the tradition by tweeting: “peak Swedish culture.”
Peak Swedish culture <3 :’-) https://t.co/MyZRnyPPlE
— Zara Larsson (@zaralarsson) May 28, 2022
While many Swedish users found themselves having to explain that their family does, in fact, feed their guests, apparently this tradition is still commonly observed in the country. For many immigrant families, it came as a big surprise, considering sharing meals and being seen as a ‘gracious’ host is deeply rooted in our culture. Offering refreshments or snacks is typically a given when any guest comes over.
Unknown to many, apparently Swedes are organised meal planners who plan their meals in advance, meaning unexpected guests are actually eating from the family’s portions.
Another explanation has been that the tradition stems from respect for the visitor’s family, who may have already planned dinner back home.
I have seen several people share things like this over the past week, and it’s a bit weird. As someone who live in Denmark, unless I have invited you for dinner, I wouldn’t expect food to be involved. But it’s not because of any of the reasons explained here. https://t.co/VEjgHOy1Cs
— Thomas Baekdal (@baekdal) May 30, 2022
As a Swedish person i need to say that this is not what it seems. A guest will always be offered food but it is very common that the guest will decline and leave before dinner. This because we are all scared of being a burden
— Smurl (@Smurlse) May 30, 2022
seeing ppl debate the swedish dinner thing (it being considered rude in middle-class sweden to offer dinner to your guests, apparently?) is very funny to me just bc like,,,in my asian household it is a competition between the host and the guest to see who can feed the other more
— kiki! || 🍗 jingyi’s fried chicken (@FriedJingyi) May 30, 2022
Totally fascinated by the #swedengate stuff coming from a culture that does the extreme opposite of that. Growing up, my mom fed everyone in sight. Repeatedly. She still does. And sends home extra with them in Tupperware.
— Eiynah — (@NiceMangos) May 30, 2022
But I’ve also had Swedish friends who have treated me like their own child and who have offered me food. The general reaction from immigrants in Sweden is just the culture shock of anyone thinking it ok to make your guest wait in your kids room as you go eat dinner without them
— Al-Fed ܐܠܦܪܝܕ (@alfman97) May 30, 2022
So… is Sweden cancelled now?
— Dr Vyom Sharma (@drvyom) May 30, 2022
This Swedish dinner guest debate is fascinating but not entirely surprising.
What’s really fascinating to me is how hospitality is acted on/interpreted differently in different parts of the world.
— Monish (@moenichedee) May 30, 2022