Despite a reputation for coldness, the Swedish people have plenty of passionate sayings about love.
One of these caricatures is that Scandinavian people are cold and emotionless, no doubt inspired by the supposedly grim circumstances of their cold countries (in fact, Sweden is quite beautiful and has plenty of warm weather). All you have to do to disprove the notion that the Swedish are cold and unfeeling is to explore the deep waters of Swedish proverbs about love!
One of the most lovely love-centred proverbs I’ve ever heard is Swedish: “If I had a rose for every time I thought of you, I'd be picking roses for a lifetime.” Say that to the woman in your life and tell me she doesn’t melt under the assault. A slightly more prosaic but no less beautiful Swedish saying is “Love is the bridge between two hearts,” which makes for the perfect quote for a card on a bouquet of flowers – especially if you render it in Swedish (Kärlek är bron mellan två hjärtan).
Here’s one that incorporates the rustic nature of much of Swedish life: “Love is like dew that falls on both nettles and lilies.” I like this one because it captures how I view the relationship between my parents - she is the beautiful Lily and he the sometimes prickly nettle, but love only sees their hearts! Or at least that’s how I’ve heard my father phrase it to my mother, usually when she is angry and he is apologising as poetically as possible.
The Swedish are not completely happy-go-lucky, however; there are plenty of sadness-tinged proverbs about love that demonstrate the Swedish have suffered just like the rest of us. One that haunts me is “Love is the Fire of Life; it either consumes or purifies.” Think about that – we’ve all had the experience of overwhelming emotion, and it’s true – you either emerge from it stronger and better or you are destroyed by it.
Or take a common Swedish proverb which goes “Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I really need it.” I think that’s a universal sentiment that all cultures can appreciate, just like another Swedish proverb: “Love is appreciating your differences as well as your similarities.”
Finally, I’ll end with some general Swedish life advice: “Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”