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Dining Etiquette in Sweden

April 12th, 2018

Dining Etiquette in Sweden

If you travel internationally on a regular basis, you probably already know that dining etiquette often varies from one location to another. To avoid embarrassing yourself in a business meeting that takes place during a meal, it’s vital for you to familiarize yourself with food etiquette in the country you’re going to visit before you cross the border.

The Basics of Dining Etiquette in Sweden

Food etiquette in Sweden applies to certain activities that take place even before your meal is served and that includes toasts. “Skoal” is a frequent toast, and when your host or hostess offers this toast, you should immediately pick up your glass and raise it. After this toast, you are generally welcome to make one of your own.

Whether you’re offering a toast or someone else is, it’s vital that you maintain eye contact throughout. If several people are being toasted, direct your eyes to each individual as they are recognized without breaking eye contact until the toast is over and everyone’s glass is returned to the table. Do not presume where you will sit at the table.

Seating arrangements are often pre-determined, so you should wait to sit until you know which seat is yours. In general, the most important guest will sit to the left of your host or hostess with the next most important guest sitting on the person’s right-hand side.

The Do's of Dining Etiquette in Sweden

Dining etiquette in Sweden prescribes how you should hold your silverware. You should hold your knife in your right hand and your fork in your left, and avoid exchanging your utensils between hands. When your meal is done, lay your utensils on the right side of your plate so that they’re parallel to each other and pointing to ten o’clock. Your knife should rest above your fork, and its blade should point in the direction of the middle of your plate.

Using the right cutlery for different courses is important in Sweden as it is in many other countries. In general, you should start with the utensils on the outermost edges of your place setting for your first course and work your way in for later courses. If you’re unsure about which utensils to use, wait for your companions to pick up their silverware when a new dish is served and follow their lead.

The Don'ts of Dining Etiquette in Sweden

Even if you’re served something that you’d eat with your hands in your home country, resist eating the food with your hands in Sweden. Food etiquette in Sweden dictates that the only food you should eat with your hands is bread. If a salad is included in your meal, avoid cutting your lettuce. If the leaves are too big for you to get them into your mouth gracefully, fold them into bite-sized bundles using your knife and fork.

Do not be the first person to bring up business at the table. Wait for the people from your host country to discuss business first. After the conversation shifts to business matters, don’t try to assume control of the conversation immediately. Be patient and only take the lead when it’s appropriate for you to do so.

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