All Aboard! "It's Very Swedish..." a train on a cultural journey through Sweden, exploring the differences big and small between American and Swedish culture.
Today's topic isn't food! It's an idea. A law if you will. Jantelagen = Jante's Law and originates in the novel A Refugee crosses his tracks by Aksel Sandemose. He was a Danish/Norwegian who set his story in the town of Jante, where there was a sort of jealousy where you weren't allowed to think more highly of yourself than others. (Source)
It's evolved to a Scandinavian way of thought, and has also been found in other cultures. When The Swede asked me if I had something for J, I said sure, I'm writing about real Christmas trees (julgranar).
He told me about Jantelagen, which I'd never heard of, and I thought it was such a neat idea, and so different than American culture today that I threw the Christmas tree in the trailer and took it to the tree limb recycling facility. (Ok, The Engineer did, a long time ago...but I thought it was kinda funny...but I'm delirious with blog visiting and Twitter chatting so what do I know.)
In American culture we're bombarded with ads that say, "You're worth it!" "If you don't do it for yourself, who will?" We strive to achieve, we want the credit for the idea, we seek the center of attention (ahem, that one strikes rather close to heart) and we want that trophy proclaiming we won.
Not so in Scandinavia. There's a striving for NOT getting the attention, NOT getting the glory, NOT getting the credit. Work quietly in the background, and give the other guy the credit. I find this a refreshing idea.
How do you feel about this "law"? I know from the comments that you readers are from all over the world. Is there something similar in your culture? Does your culture lean more towards the American way or the Swedish way?
~Tina, who is going to try to recede more into the background and practice her Swedish roots :-)
P.S I did promise embarrassing childhood photos, and so far you haven't gotten many as fish, dill, ice, etc. aren't really embarrassing. So here you go: me and Swissie. I'm all gussied up to win first place at a gymnastics meet...
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