What do you do when a person comes to your house during meal time? For us Filipinos, we often greet incoming visitors with a cheerful “kain tayo,” even if it means dividing what’s still left on the dining table. We never fail to offer something even a piece of snack if someone suddenly shows up on our doorstep. In provinces, guests are even treated to an impromptu feast to show how the hosts are delighted to have people visit their place. But come to a Swedish person’s house during meal time it would be a different story. This is according to a Reddit post that’s been trending recently.
— lamiz (@lamiz56101402) June 5, 2022
As read on the screenshot of the post, the person visited his friend’s house in Sweden only to be led to a waiting room while the friend’s family finished their dinner. When the story got shared on Twitter, people reacted up a storm calling the incident #swedengate.
#Swedengate is so funny but shocking to me. idk how much of it is true but liike Filipinos aren’t exactly rich either but won’t let you leave the house til you eat or take some food home to share with the rest of ur family for dinner.
— kookie (@ku_konite) June 4, 2022
— taku (@takuplxz) June 5, 2022
— Musaed Bassam (@BassamMusaed) June 9, 2022
— alina 🇺🇦🕊 (@alittlebitalina) May 31, 2022
— Bee🐝 (@MountainJewel93) June 4, 2022
— Freedom Truth Honor 🇺🇳 (@FreedomHonor666) June 3, 2022
Swedish are doing the world a great favor. Nobody wants to have Swedish food..#Swedengate
— Elbanna101 (@elbanna101) June 2, 2022
Many blamed it as a part of Swedish culture that has been ingrained for generations.
As a Swede growing up in Sweden I can confess that this “starving your guest” story is true. But it was never strange to us. Thats the way it was. This story in @Independent explains it very well. #Swedengate https://t.co/aLqZKB1yQm
— Sofi Lundin (@Sofilundin) June 2, 2022
#Swedengate food controversy “Swedes think feeding a guest creates a sense of obligation, and in a society that values equality and independence, people don’t want to put a burden on someone or feel like they owe someone something”.https://t.co/sjiEygQOXQ
— MollyV 🇺🇦 (@mollyv1991) June 7, 2022
Me and my brother sometimes talk and joke about this “waiting in the room whilst your friend is eating”, even before this hastag existed.
It’s actually so true, not everywhere, not all the time.
But it was very common when I was a kid 😂#Swedengate
— Maikel Bill (@maikelele) June 2, 2022
— Daniel Fallmo (@DanielFallmo13) June 9, 2022
Some netizens, however, defended the situation saying that if an unexpected person would drop by their doorstep, they would also do the same thing.
They don’t invite for food if you just walk-in without invitation. No hospitality if you are not invited. It’s counted rude if you just visit without appointment. The other way around is true#Swedengate
— bile (@bile8bile) June 6, 2022
I think it’s not fair to judge Sweden base on #Swedengate! It’s probably just that they are not use to feeding other people besides their own. Sharing of food is not as common as you think they are having live in 2 different countries other than my own home country.#prayforsweden
— Travel Journal (@laagantravels) June 4, 2022
I have to say, growing up in the Midwest, if I went to a neighbor kid’s house to play and meal time rolled around it was time for me to go home until they were done, and vice versa. It would be weird for my friends to eat with me.
Unless it was a sleepover.#Swedengate .
— MK Gun Control Now. Save Roe. (@mkliberal1138) June 9, 2022
Coming from a country with a reputed hospitable attitude and outlook, we would hastily think how cold this Swedish custom can be. However, we need to see the bigger picture and not just from a cultural standpoint to understand where this practice is rooted from. According to the website, askbygeeks.com, Swedish people have a mindset that values equality and independence. With this kind of thinking, Swedes don’t really intend on snubbing their guests. They just don’t want people to form a sense of obligation or rather burden the person as if they’ll have to return the favor to the host. On the other hand, countries with welcoming practices are said to have developed the innate need to feed people after surviving a long history of deprivation, hence the empathy to invite and share. It certainly makes sense.
Another reason also comes from a practical perspective. When an uninvited person suddenly arrives at your doorstep wouldn’t you also feel so unprepared and taken aback by how should you entertain the surprised guest? It would be a cinch if you have ready-stocked meals and treats on hand. But let’s be honest—not everyone is as well prepared or eager to share their blessings. Unfortunately, this time the world’s spotlight is put on Sweden.
When the situation does arise in your part of the world, how would you react? Let us know!