This blog has generally been pretty light and cheery for the most part, seeing as it is a chronicle of our first year here, which has been pretty damn fine. Like any country, I knew there had to be a dark side to Sweden and I was sent an article from a blog that focuses solely on the dark side of Swedish society. Here is a screen shot of the banner of the blog and I recommend checking it out as it will balance the light, happy picture I have painted over the past 335 days.
I am glad to finally find some answers to aspects of Sweden that I knew must exist but had not run across anything about. We live in a prosperous seaside town and we live in what many consider the best neighborhood in that town, so our experience has been severely slanted in that regard. My command of the language is not up to where I have been able to follow the political or societal discussions and I have only gotten snippets. Speaking of snippets, there was a story on the blog about the redesign of Swedish lion that appears on shields and so on.
If you compare the two images you will see that the lion on the right is missing his junk. It appears that showing a lion as having male genitalia was considered sexist or genderist or something and so, in the long tradition of Swedish neutrality, the lion has been neutered! I know Sweden is all about equality in all things but why couldn’t they have left the male-ness along and simply added breasts?
Okay, that is one side of Sweden. Today represents the polar opposite. Today was “Studenten” throughout the land, the day when secondary school graduates officially complete their education. It is a BIG deal, bigger than I expected.
Each gymnasium (roughly the equivalent to high school in the U.S.) starts graduation day with a breakfast followed by a graduation ceremony. Then the kids pile into trucks, trailers or other suitably sized vehicles that the have decorated with banners and drive around town letting off steam.
This banner reads: “What has 2 legs and 2 arms but no job?” and “(something) if you have had sex this morning.”
Then there is “We are your future. We will make chaos with it.” This happened to be my favorite.
And who can forget, “One must be young and stupid to become old and experienced.”
After awhile, the kids get off their trucks and make their way through the big square to a park at the other end of the town center. They hang little gifts that others have given them around their necks. And nearly everyone is blowing horns, whistles, singing or chanting. It is very loud and lively.
Conformity is big in Sweden. Girls wear white dresses, boys dark suits, and every has a white cap.
This graduate apparently graduated with only half of her dress.
I think each class rides together in their truck and this says what class or subject they studied. (Could be wrong here. A lot of it might as well have been Greek.)
Family and friends also get into the act. I saw many many signs with baby pictures of the student, their name and birthdate or class. These placards were everywhere. The ceremonies must have quite raucous, probably a lot more fun than U.S. graduation ceremonies. My high school graduation in the ’60s was very dignified (meaning dull) and that was the decade that invented fun.
Crowds lined the streets waiting for graduates to march past to the park.
Just about now, it began raining but Swedes don’t even seem to notice. The umbrellas go up and the parade continues.
It rained for about the next four hours but then cleared up beautifully, just in time for a long night of partying.
Everyone then piled into the park to . . . uh, stand around in the rain. Kids were still celebrating though. Studenten is a significant rite of passage for most of these kids. Some will go off and work for a while and others will go onto university.
And there it is, graduation day in Sweden. All over the country similar scenes played out. As big as this is, it is pales next to what will happen in two weeks from today: Midsummer. More stuff happens before then, like tomorrow morning.