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Attention non-Swedes – Beware of Week 9!

Feb 23, 2017 anne_pihl
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Everyone knows that there are 52 or 53 weeks in a calendar year. These weeks are divided into days and dates. You can ask nearly anyone “What’s today’s date?” and you will get an immediate answer. But if you ask “what week is it now? you are almost guaranteed to be met with a puzzled look. Except when it’s week 9!

What’s so special about this particular week?

We have to go back over half a century to understand its origin. The year was 1941, an icy cold war winter and the annual February freeze had the country in a firm grip. For the second year in a row, schools were closed by a directive of the Fuel Commission. Fuel shortages and the cold winter made it difficult to cope with the supply of coal and coke so rationing was implemented. One way of dealing with this situation was to close all schools during this week. Ever since then it’s become an established tradition.

This tradition has had a number of names over the years. It’s been called “the coke break”, “the winter break” but nowadays it’s known as “the sports break”.  Even back in the 40s there was a drive to get young people to be more active; mountain holidays, for example,  were arranged for city children. Nowadays there’s a mass-exodus from all over the country to ski resorts. Swedes do as much planning around this week as they do for Christmas. The importance of being on leave from work with the family is almost sacred. Sweden has adapted to this need by splitting up the sport break regionally between weeks 7, 8, 9 and 10.  Week 9 is always Stockholm’s turn. (You can see the regional breakdown of the Sport break here)

Important advice for newbies to Sweden

For expats in Sweden or anyone doing business in Sweden, who isn’t as ingrained in this tradition, it’s important to remember not to book meetings during this week; if you do, you won’t be popular.

Don’t ring and disturb your colleagues when they’re skiing….you might cause an accident!

If you’re not headed for a ski-resort yourself, don’t expect any spontaneous social invitations as the city will be pretty empty.

Have a great sports break and mind your legs!

Learn more: Read The Essential Swedish Calendar guide to discover other important dates and to find out more about the concept of Swedish week numbers.

Florence Galibert

How to get a job in Sweden

A little about me
I moved to Sweden in 1992 with my then-fiancé. The plan was to be in Sweden for two years but life took a different turn and we ended up staying. I really like living in Sweden and have made a lot of great friends. I live in West Stockholm and have two children. Running, swimming, cycling, golf, skiing, cooking and spending time with family and friends is how I like to spend my free time.

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