Sunday, September 17, 2006
It's the Blue and Yellow One
Another common question I received upon sharing with people that I was moving to Sweden was "Which of the flags with the crossed lines is Sweden's again?" Yes, all Scandinavian flags--Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland--have the same type of design, but different colors. This is an appropriate symbol of Scandinavian unity yet distinctiveness that I have observed since arriving in July (already over 2 1/2 months!).
One of the first things I noticed while in Stockholm is the fact that you can find the Swedish flag somewhere around you at virtually every public location. It is everywhere! In addition to public buildings, boats and various historical landmarks, etc., it's also found throughout commercial and private buildings, businesses, store fronts, corner markets, inside restaurants, in front of many homes and on balconies of apartments everywhere. Picture Memorial Day or July 4th in the States every day. I've even come across many homes that actually have a full-fledged flag pole in their front yard--not uncommon.
So what does this mean that the flag is everywhere? The obvious answer is that Swedes adore their country and this is accurate. Perhaps more than even other European countries, where nationalism has often been a positive and often a negative, it seems that Swedes carry a lot of national pride, but do so with a common sense and content spirit about their place in the world, hence the well-known neutrality in times of conflict and other political responses. Virtually all Swedes would tell you that they have something special going on way up here in the north and the omnipresent flag is the clearest representation of this.
And, while I miss the States at times, I would certainly have to agree that there is something special going on up here in Sweden. While my adjustment is still continuing and will for awhile, Sweden in general and Linköping in particular have treated me very well, even as my All-American qualities reveal themselves on a seemingly daily basis (perhaps a future blog?). Speaking of which, I'm off to Boston next weekend for a wedding, so my submission will be a special State-side version of Linköpinglivin' this time next week.