Why Don’t Swedes Feed Their Guests?

It’s normal for people in many countries to offer their guests food, even if they come over unannounced. However, this social etiquette doesn’t extend to every culture, specifically Swedish and other Nordic cultures.

Swedes don’t feed their guests because dinner is family time, and meals are generally only planned with the family in mind.

Additionally, there is no expectation of being fed in a Swedish person’s home unless discussed before the visit. 

This article will discuss why Swedes don’t feed their guests in greater detail. It will also discuss whether or not Swedes ever offer their guests food and whether it’s rude to ask for food in a Swede’s home.

Also, see 5 Great Thins to Serve with Swedish Meaballs to learn more.

Swedish Hospitality Explained

Before jumping to conclusions and assuming that all Swedes are rude because they don’t feed their guests, it’s essential to understand why that’s normal there.

For the most part, Swedish children copy the behaviors of their parents and other adults, and they grow accustomed to the way things are done in Sweden.

As a result, not offering guests food becomes normal for them (because it’s all they know) from a very early age. That is what keeps these customs and traditions alive.

People from other countries must respect and appreciate this part of Swedish and Scandinavian culture, even if it’s completely different than what they’re used to.

Each culture, its norms, and traditions are just as valuable as any other. [1]

So it’s not that Swedish people are rude and unbothered when it comes to hospitality–it’s just that this is how they were raised and how their culture works.

While it may not be typical for people from other countries, it’s perfectly acceptable behavior in Sweden. 

Swedes don’t get offended if they are not offered food as a guest. In fact, they might be surprised or confused if they are provided with food.

Despite Sweden’s perceived unfriendliness, it is generally a well-liked nation among other Europeans.

Here’s Why Swedes Don’t Feed Their Guests

You might think it’s unusual for Swedes not to feed their guests. But there are several reasons for this, as we will see. 

Eating Is Generally a Family Affair

Eating (especially dinner) in Sweden is important because families can gather and talk about their day. 

For example, when a Swedish child has a friend over, the visiting child is unlikely to be offered food.

That’s because the parents respect the independence of that child’s family, and feeding someone else’s child may be considered rude because it could indicate the other parents are incapable of looking after their child. [2]

Since most families see dinner time as a family gathering, it’s not seen as rude to exclude others from the dinner table.

Unannounced Guests Are Less Likely To Be Fed

It may be expected for people of certain countries/cultures to offer guests food (even if they come over unannounced), but that is usually not the case in Sweden.

For example, if someone visits a household with little (or no) notice, they are unlikely to be offered food or a snack when the family is having dinner.

That’s because most Swedes only see the need to feed themselves and their own families, as they expect others to look after themselves

Swedes also generally plan their meals in advance, so they can’t change the meal plan to suit an unannounced guest.

Again, they don’t do it to be rude–they do it because it’s practical and makes sense to them.

Even if an unannounced guest sits uneating at the dinner table while the rest of the family eats, it’s not considered rude.

There Is no Expectation To Be Fed as a Guest

While many people from outside Sweden and other Scandinavian countries might expect a food offering when visiting someone, Swedish people don’t expect this.

If a meal wasn’t agreed upon before the visit, a Swedish person won’t show up to someone’s house hungry and expecting food.

Since there is no expectation of receiving food in someone’s home, the host does not feel obligated to feed their guests.

Again, it might seem slightly or highly rude to some people, but it’s not impolite in Sweden.

Swedes Cook Small Amounts of Food Compared to Other Nations

It’s common for Swedes to cook enough portions for each family member and nothing extra. [3]

Therefore, it wouldn’t be practical to feed a guest because there simply wouldn’t be enough food.

So if someone comes over unplanned (like a child’s friend), not only do the hosts expect the child to be fed by their own parents, but they also likely don’t have enough food cooked to feed them. 

That is unlike many other countries, where it’s standard to cook large meals and keep leftovers afterward.

Do Swedes Ever Feed Their Guests?

Contrary to popular belief, Swedes do feed their guests in some cases. They are most likely to provide for guests if the visit was planned in advance and a meal was agreed upon.

It’s normal for Swedes to invite guests over for dinner, lunch, and parties, and food is sure to be served to all invited guests in these instances.

Also, Swedish parents are more likely to feed their children’s friends if the playdate was planned and it has already been agreed with the other parents that the friend will get food.

It’s also acceptable to feed another person’s child if they stay for the night. 

So, once it’s a planned affair, Swedes happily give their guests food.

Is it Rude To Ask for Food in a Swede’s Home?

It is generally rude to ask for food in a Swede’s home because people are expected to feed themselves unless they’ve been invited for food.

However, it also depends on the relationship between the people. For example, if a close family member visits, asking for food may not be considered rude.

Technically, this is similar to many other cultures because it’s seen as rude in many countries for someone to ask for or demand food when they’re guests in someone else’s home.

Do Swedes Like To Cook for Others?

Swedes like to cook for others, but only if it’s planned in advance and they have plenty of time to prepare.

In fact, cooking and inviting people over is a big part of Swedish culture.

They like to cook different things for guests, including buffets of foods like meats and cheeses.

Not only do Swedes like to invite guests over for food, but they also like to eat out now and then, especially for special occasions or gatherings. 

[1] Source 
[2] Source 
[3] Source 

Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

Related Questions

error: This content is copyrighted.