June 6 might be another day for most of us, but don't tell it to your Swedish friend (or colleague). It's the National Day of Sweden, which might make you scratch your head. (It was supposed to be the beginning of the summer season, but it was an unusually cold morning last weekend. And then you figured out that you weren't far from the mountains.) It would be a shame if you don't know the location of Sweden, as Google could provide the answer in seconds.
Sweden, Denmark, and Norway comprise Scandinavia, its history linked to an ethnocultural North Germanic heritage. The Scandinavian peninsula would tell a different story, where much of the mainlands of Norway and Sweden would be found. It also includes the northwestern regions of Finland and a few areas in Russia. In popular culture, there are many references to Sweden. If you're an avid sports fan, there's a long list of Swedish personalities. Last but not least, Swedish literature. If your curiosity is piqued, then let's not look at each other (and wonder what this post is all about). Here are five fun facts about Sweden:
Sweden has a land area of 450,295 square kilometers, the third largest in the European Union (EU) area. France and Spain are the other nations that are bigger than this Nordic nation, but let's make a distinction. If we talk about the entire European continent, then Russia is the biggest (European) nation by land area. In this case, the Asian regions must be included. Why do you need to know these facts? It turns out that the EU is less than half of the size of the US. Canada is slightly larger than the US. Greenland, which is within the Danish Realm, is three times the size of Texas. It's time to do the math.
Stockholm is the Swedish capital, renowned for its ruined churches and centuries-old canals. Film enthusiasts have the first glimpse of this northern metropolis when they saw "The Prize", where Paul Newman played a Nobel Prize-winning author who seemed more interested in drinking and womanizing. The premise hinted that Alfred Hitchcock didn't direct this spy film. (Newman and Hitchcock collaborated in "Torn Curtain".) This would be hardly shocking to the residents as the big-screen adaptation of Stieg Larsson's "Millennium" series revealed misogyny and a serial killer. Still waters run deep.
You're not a film buff if you don't know Ingmar Bergman. The native of Uppsala became an international sensation after the release of "The Seventh Seal" in 1957. Only a few filmmakers could rival Bergman's filmography. (Three films won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Six features were recipients of the Golden Globe.) Bergman's austere setting and black-and-white shots highlighted his melancholic characters, all struggling with existential issues and personal tragedies. If you're thinking of "Losing My Religion", then you're not far away.
Winter may not be the best time to visit Sweden. John Ajvide Lindqvist's "Let the Right One In" (2004) chronicled an unlikely friendship between a twelve-year-old boy, a victim of bullying, and his mysterious neighbor. He was a new kid in the suburbs of Stockholm, and it coincided with the mysterious death of some inhabitants. It had something to do with the long (Nordic) winter, which could depress anyone. And this new neighbor prefers to wake up at night. It seems familiar, right?
ABBA or Roxette? You must be a child of the 1970s if you enjoy listening to ABBA. You might also be a huge fan of "Mamma Mia", which is an homage to the quartet's greatest hits. Let's not forget those viewers who have seen "Muriel's Wedding" over and over again. (Don't be surprised if P.J. Hogan's quirky comedy is included in the module on Women in Cinema.) If you're born during the 1990s, then you likely have a CD of Roxette's greatest hits. This duo achieved worldwide fame when "The Look" reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1990. But "It Must Have Been Love", from the soundtrack of "Pretty Woman", would be their most popular hit. And let's not forget Ace of Base. Have you seen the sign?
We almost forgot the Swedish flag. The yellow and blue hues represent generosity and truth respectively. As for its origin, it would go back to the Middle Age. It might be King Magnus Birgersson (in 1275) or King Albert of Mecklenburg (in 1364). It's time to do a Google search.