Scandinavian countries have an excellent reputation among tourists, as found in a 2008 article published in the journal, Scandinavian Studies, by Eric Schaad. In particular, Scandinavia is a place that is famed for its order and safety.However, there are some stubbornly myths, and here I am debunking some of the myths about Scandinavia.
Scandinavian people are also lauded for their conscientiousness, which in turn could be related to the cleanliness and order observed by tourists. There is an idea that things always function properly in countries like Sweden.
On the downside, tourists often refer to Scandinavian prices as expensive. What’s more, they sometimes describe Scandinavians as having a more subdued, genuine friendliness than people from other nations. As noted by Schaad, travel bloggers commonly mention the stereotype of a “taciturn, cold Scandinavian,” and many are delighted to find that “most people in Sweden are friendly.”
It is fascinating to see how travelers typically head to Scandinavian destinations with deeply ingrained biases that do not necessarily match their experience when they visit these countries. Below are a few more myths that can easily be debunked through observation, an openness to genuine experience, and grounding one’s opinions on scientific information.
Myth 1: Scandinavians Are Big Drinkers
Travellers and bloggers have revealed their surprise at the “transformation” of Scandinavians from peaceful and quiet to either highly sociable or aggressive, owing to the effects of alcohol. In fact, studies by Our World in Data indicate that Scandinavians rang fairly low on the list of alcohol-drinking countries. The top 10 countries in terms of alcohol consumption are the Seychelles, Uganda, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Spain, and Bulgaria. Scandinavian countries are not even within the top 15 entries in this list.
Want to know more about drinking in Scandinavia? Just click the image below.
Myth 2: Scandinavians Are All Blonde and Blue-Eyed
Regional differences in hair and eye colour are not as prevalent as many people realize. Over 90% of the world’s population has either brown or black hair. On a global scale, blonde and red hair are actually anomalous and eye and hair colour does not differ from one area to another as much as many people believe. Having said that, there is no doubt that there is a higher percentage of blonde, blue-eyed people in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, than in many parts of the world. The highest percentage of fair-haired people can be found around the Baltic Sea (including Denmark, the Polish Coast, and the Baltic states). As a whole, it is estimated that in countries like Sweden, around 54% of people have blonde hair. In other words, although blonde hair is more common, it is by no means universal.
Myth 3: Scandinavians Do Not Speak English Well
Despite stereotypes presented in some comedies, Scandinavians do speak English—and they speak it well. Statistics indicate that around 80% do so fluently, with urban areas such as Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö having higher English proficiency rates. There are many reasons why Scandinavians are such good English speakers—including the fact that English, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Icelandic all belong to the same core language family—Germanic. What’s more, many Scandinavian countries have adapted common English words to replace words in their own language. You can expect to find a high percentage of English speakers throughout countries like Sweden, so if you’re visiting, feel free to ask locals about suggestions for everything from attractions to dining spots.
By clicking the image below, you can learn about the 5 most common mistakes Scandinavians make when speaking English.
Myth 4: Most Scandinavians Are Depressed
A common stereotype about Nordic countries is that their peoples are depressed, owing to the fact that in some parts of Scandinavia, countries are plunged into darkness for half of the year. In fact, rates of depression in these countries are similar to what they are in the rest of the world. Overall, depression affects about 5% of the general population. In Nordic countries, it impacts between 3.5% and 5% of people. Interestingly, Nordic countries often top the polls as the happiest in the world, as found by the UN and the OECD.
There are various myths that are frequently perpetuated by the media and the film industry. These include the myths that Scandinavians are all blue-eyed, big drinkers, and depressed. Many travellers are surprised to find that reality differs greatly from their expectations—which is just one of many fantastic reasons to visit one or more Scandinavian countries.
Debunking Myths About Scandinavians, written dedicatedly for Daily Scandinavian by Karoline Gore. Karoline is a freelance writer from Stoke on Trent in the UK who left the corporate grind when she started a family and has never looked back. She enjoys contributing to a range of online publications on the topics that are important to her.
Feature image (on top) © pexels / cottonbro studio