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Frog legs and beery shoes: how to romance a Swede

Although Valentine’s Day is a new tradition in Sweden, myths about love have existed throughout Swedish history, with Swedes historically performing spells or enchantments to woo the object of their desires. Here are a few examples.

Frog legs and beery shoes: how to romance a Swede
Forget about kissing frogs, what you should do to woo your boo is stroke their back with a frog instead. Photo: Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix/TT

It appears that the issue of unrequited love is eternal, with Swedes throughout the ages taking to drastic measures to either enchant the object of their desires, or remove a suspected enchantment placed upon them.

Here are a few examples from the Swedish Institute for Language and Folklore (we can’t vouch for how effective they are).

The sleeping beauty

According to one Oskar Jansson, born in Skåne in 1875, one sure-fire way to make the person you love return your affections was to cut a lock of hair from their head while they sleep and take it to a “wise person” who “could sort everything out”. Even if you do have access to the kind of “wise person” Jansson is referring to, it’s probably best not to cut a Swede’s hair while they sleep, especially if you don’t know them well.

The berry smuggler

Records from the Swedish Institute for Language and Folklore state that Albertina Nyman, from Bohuslän, believed that sneaking rowan berries in the pocket of the person you love would make them fall in love with you.

This is frankly the least weird suggestion on this list, so if you’re going to use one of these tricks, it might as well be this one.

The frog’s leg

In this tip, A. Johansson, born in 1863 in Bohuslän, recommends an odd way of enchanting the object of your desires – just make sure you follow the instructions carefully.

“Stroke the back of the person you want to have as your wife with a frog’s leg downwards,” they said, “and they will be completely insatiably in love with you.”

This was believed to work as you pulled the love of the person whose back you stroked towards you. Johansson does note here however that it works both ways: if you stroked the frog’s leg upwards you stroke their love away from you, meaning they would never fall in love with you.

Johansson failed to mention whether the leg should still be attached to the frog (either way, stroking someone with a frog’s leg would probably not be appreciated).

The coffee tamperer

Märta Wästerberg, born in 1853, said she had once met a young lady who claimed she could “make a man so crazy for her he would never want to part from her”, by putting her menstrual blood in his coffee.

We wouldn’t recommend you try any of these tips, but really, please, don’t try this one. As a general rule, probably best to avoid putting bodily fluids (or anything else) in someone’s coffee if you’re trying to woo them.

The overcomplicated thread spell

Pay attention, this one is complicated. One anonymous woman born in 1812 in Värmland is quoted by the Institute for Language and Folklore as giving the following advice for a lovesick boy to make the object of his desires return his affections.

First, the boy should go to a wise man who would perform the following spell. On a Thursday night at midnight, the boy must walk three times around a large circle made of willow which had been chopped and bound on a Sunday in Lent.

Then, on the first full moon, the boy must go to the girl’s home with the wise man and sit next to her. The wise man should then, without the girl seeing him, join the seam of the girl’s blouse to the boy’s coat sleeve with a thread or “nest”. Then he would cut off the nest, pull out the end of the thread and give it to the boy. The boy must then wear the thread constantly, night and day, until the girl fell in love with him. If he lost the thread, the love would disappear, taking all the boy’s belongings with it.

Just a hunch, but surely the girl would have been slightly suspicious when a strange man turned up to her home with a boy and started fiddling with the hem of her blouse?

Wine with a side of foot sweat

Finally, here’s a tip for breaking a love spell you suspect someone has placed on you, from an unnamed source in Södermanland in 1932.

Put on a pair of new shoes, walk until your feet begin to sweat, then take the shoes off. You must then fill the shoes with beer or wine, slosh it around (presumably to mix it with your foot sweat, delicious), and drink it. From then on, you will not be able to look at the person who enchanted you.

If you’re planning to woo a Swede this Valentine’s Day, however, it’s probably best to stick to buying some flowers or chocolate to show your affection, rather than enlisting the help of a wise man, cutting their hair while they sleep, or drinking sweaty beer from a shoe. That would probably just put them off.

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IN PICTURES: New citizens and royal glitz – How Sweden celebrated National Day

Sweden's National Day, observed on June 6th, is a special occasion that honours the nation's rich history and culture as well as the country's new citizens. This year marked the 500th anniversary of the founding of modern Sweden.

IN PICTURES: New citizens and royal glitz - How Sweden celebrated National Day

Sweden was in full-on celebratory mode as it marked National Day and the 500th anniversary since Gustav Vasa was elected King of Sweden in Strängnäs in 1523.

The official program of celebrations in Strängnäs ran roughly from 10 am to 1 pm.

READ MORE: Why does Sweden celebrate National Day on June 6th?

How the celebrations unfolded

The Swedish royal family were, as usual, prominent in the National Day celebrations, with Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, Princ Carl Philip, Prince Oscar, and Princess Estelle all making an appearance on Tuesday.

The festivities began at the Strängnäs Cathedral in Strängnäs Municipality, Södermanland County, around 10:30 am, with the royal couple in attendance.

King Carl Gustaf - Queen Silvia - Strängnäs Cathedral

King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia photographed during a festive gathering in Strängnäs Cathedral on the 2023 National Day. Photo: Pontus Lundahl / TT

After the initial gathering at Strängnäs Cathedral, the royal couple made their way to the Källparken park. There, they inaugurated the impressive artwork “Sammanflätade” by Knutte Wester before proceeding to the stage in Västerviken.

King Carl Gustaf inaugurates artwork

King Carl Gustaf inaugurates the “Sammanflätade” artwork by Knutte Wester in Källparken. Photo by Pontus Lundahl / TT

King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia proceeded to walk from Källparken to Västerviken, greeting the festive crowd along the way.

Queen Silvia greets crowd

The royal couple strolled from Källparken to Västerviken, exchanging greetings with the gathered crowd en route. Photo by: Pontus Lundahl / TT

King Carl Gustaf

King Carl Gustaf, photographed cheering on the crowds between Källparken and Västerviken. Photo by: Pontus Lundahl / TT

King Carl Gustaf - Queen Silvia walking

Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, walking to Västerviken during the National Day celebrations. Photo by: Pontus Lundahl / TT

The royal couple took centre stage at Västerviken and initiated the ceremonial celebrations.

King Carl Gustaf on stage

King Carl Gustaf on stage in Västerviken. Photo by: Pontus Lundahl / TT

Attendees then joined together in singing the King’s Song (Kungssången), the royal anthem.

The festivities continued with the Hemmavasan Strängnäs 10-kilometre race.

A special day for newly naturalised Swedish citizens

In recent years, Swedish National Day celebrations have also gained significance in facilitating the integration of immigrants, as newly naturalised Swedish citizens tend to participate in locally organized citizenship ceremonies on June 6th.

Speaking to the TT news agency previously Lund University ethnology professor Jonas Frykman said that this aspect of the celebrations was well-designed and greatly appreciated by many immigrants.

The inclusion of citizenship ceremonies has become a feature that plays a crucial role in welcoming and integrating newcomers into Swedish society, Frykman said at the time.