Greed or thrift? The whole world is discussing why the Swedes do not feed their guests

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Greed or thrift? The whole world is discussing why the Swedes do not feed their guests
Greed or thrift? The whole world is discussing why the Swedes do not feed their guests
2 June, 13:06SocietyPhoto: Соцсети
The inhabitants of the planet disagree about the "inhospitable" Scandinavian tradition

Ivan Zubov

While the owners of the house are dining...

A fierce discussion broke out on social networks in Sweden, and then in the rest of the world, which, fortunately, had nothing to do with politics. This discussion was picked up by the world media, and it even got the hashtag #swedengate. It concerns not only the Swedes, but in general all the Scandinavian peoples. As follows from the numerous stories told on blogs, the Scandinavians will not feed either an adult or a child if he is visiting them during breakfast, lunch or dinner. That is, they themselves will eat, and their guest will sit in the room, even if he is hungry. The Scandinavians explain this by the fact that they carefully plan the amount of food, take care of the diet, food intolerances and habits of others, do not want to put the parents of the child in an awkward position and the like ... In general, many reasons are given, and other peoples react to all of them with amazement “we just don’t understand how it is not to feed a guest, even if we have one sandwich for all”.

Screenshot from a tweet complaining about her child not being fed

Such comments are overwhelming. Residents of Asian or African countries write that hospitality comes first for them. However, at the same time, many of them are wondering if this Scandinavian tradition is a sign of a developed society? After all, a sound assessment of food resources, both family and state, is really very important. Especially, in contrast, for example, with the Arab countries, where it is customary to cook food for guests in quantities much higher than necessary, so that later they can simply throw away the excess ...

Thus, one of the residents of Malaysia writes that with the onset of the Ramadan holiday, the demand for products (especially meat) increases by 3-4 times, although the population remains the same. Needless to say, after the celebration, all the garbage heaps are literally clogged with uneaten food?!

Shouldn't the hospitable southerners follow the example of the Scandinavians and offer guests only tea with the lightest snack?

Swedish ethnologist Håkan Jonsson explained to reporters from The New York Times that such a tradition does exist and is based on two different phenomena. The first is rooted in the traditional peasant economy: thrift in the harsh northern conditions is above all.

“The peasants needed to be able to manage their stocks with an iron fist, so that they would be enough for the whole year ...”

Another aspect, according to Jonsson, is the custom of never borrowing: “Inviting someone else's child to the table can be tantamount to declaring that the child does not get enough food in his own house, that his parents do not take care of him. No one should think like this: “They offered my child food, now I must repay the same ... This is part of our Swedish understanding of democracy - not to depend on the goodwill of others. Yes, this phenomenon is definitely perceived as stinginess and strangeness. I do not think that it is typical for other cultures and countries whose climate allows you to grow much more food than ours ... ".

In this regard, the opinion of the Russians is interesting. They just do not share the Swedish stinginess, but at the same time, they believe that the strength of this tradition is greatly exaggerated:

With red on the map there are marked countries where people do not like to feed guests, and blue - vice versa

- Having lived for some time in Germany, I can note that it is also important to divide the topic into two parts: the attitude towards the process of eating and the attitude towards the guest. So for the northern peoples, a guest is someone who was invited or agreed to meet at an appointed time. This is not the case with southern peoples. In addition, it would be useful to compare with a map of Europe, where the countries are colored according to the duration of the meal (lunch or dinner). I think we will see a stable correlation with the picture above.

- I know for sure that in Finland, just like in Russia, it is generally impossible not to feed guests! On the contrary, they feed you whether you like it or not, regardless of whether there is a lot or little food at home.

- And in Norway, and in Finland, and in Sweden they still fed, treated them!

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