Sunday, November 18, 2007
1) Do not even think about drinking out of your glass until the proper introductory "Skål" has been conducted.
2) Wait for the host(ess) to begin the Skål.
3) Hold your alcohol-filled glass with your right hand and put your left hand on the table directly in front of you parallel to your chest (to show the others at the table that you have no intention of "going for your blade").
4) After everyone at the table is properly prepared, the host may say a few words as an introduction, while glasses are in the air.
5) At the conclusion of the introduction, the host will declare "Skål!" (pr. "Skoal" for you Yankees) and everyone at the table, glasses remaining in the air, repeats "Skål!"
6) At this point, we have reached a pivotal moment. Will you "clank" glasses like a drunken American or will you resist this tempation of youth and choose the classy, Northern European, all-important and highly respected, simple-but-meaningful eye-contact, with each and every person at the table? Choose wisely. This evening is depending upon your decision.
7) After you have offered a respectful nod with genuine eye-contact to all around the table, you may gently sip from your glass, followed by slowly bringing the glass to your heart and ever so-subtly acknowledging everyone at the table again with a simple glance.
8) Place your glass back on the table, simultaneosly removing your left hand from the table after having successfully resisted the temptation to "go for your blade."
9) After the introductory Skål, any guest or the host may initiate individual Skål tributes throughout the evening by simply calling upon a person around the table by name, gently declaring "Skål," drawing eye-contact with said called upon person, sip, heart, glance, down.
10) Repeat often throughout the evening and often throughout your time in Sweden.
By the way, the word "Skål" comes from the Viking "trading" era. When the Vikings would begin "trading" with a new region, they would celebrate their first "trade" by cutting of the head of their "business partner", opening up their skull ("Skål), taking out the brains, adding alcohol and "gently sipping."
And don't even ask what the Vikings did if you didn't make eye contact....