this Swedish custom that forbids youngsters invited to their buddies’ houses to dine on the household desk

A very common tradition in the years 1970-1980. Getty Images

The case began with a simple anecdote, published on the social network Reddit, which provoked thousands of similar testimonies. But this tradition has its origins in the history of the country.

In late May, a Reddit user decides to share an anecdote with his subscribers. The latter remembers the day when, when he was younger, he spent the afternoon with a friend. “I remember playing with a Swedish friend. And while we were playing in the bedroom, his mother shouted that dinner was over. And guess what: he told me to wait in his room while they ate, ”he recalled. If he seems to have moved on, the story shocked more than one. Especially because he provoked a large number of similar testimonies at the time. Thus, according to the “old tradition”, some Swedish families do not serve dinner to children who come to play at home.

“When I was little, it was really common to go and play with a friend and he would tell us, ‘Oh, I’m just going to dinner, I’ll be back in 30 minutes.’ And he left you in the bedroom, “Swedish singer Zara Larsson told TikTok. The same goes for 40-year-old designer Roy Ghazi, who told AFP he spent a lot of time in his friends’ room, even if he was right on the “sandwich”.

“You owe me something”

Still common in the 1980s and 1990s, without being universal, however, this practice would still be extinct today, assures AFP Richard Tellström, a professor at the Swedish University of Agronomy. But it’s fascinating because it “reveals so much about ourselves and who we are,” says the food historian. According to him, even if the testimonies caused discontent abroad, it is not a matter of stinginess, and even less of the rejection of foreigners. “It’s about the relationship between families, not debts to each other,” he told AFP. “If your child eats a lot with me, you will find that you owe me something, and this should be avoided because it is bad for our adult relationship,” said the expert.

More prosaic thoughts can come into play, he says, such as “not wasting the opportunity to have a meal together as a family”, or having to reach another family before the mobile phone era. But the academic leans more for historical reasons. When Sweden was one of the poorest countries in Europe, parents who struggled to feed all their mouths sent their children to eat at a neighbor’s. As a legacy of this period, the simple fact of inviting a child to eat could be considered an insult. “If you offer that, you suggest that the other family is in a bad place,” says Telström.

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The specialist also wants to expose the accusations of racism made by certain contemporaries of #Swedengate. “I was contacted by immigrants who told me that they thought they were left in their boyfriend’s room for ethnic reasons, because they would not be good enough to be at the table,” they say from the university. “Which is terribly sad, because it has nothing to do with ethnicity, but with something owed to someone,” he insists.

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