Sweden is a lovely country that doesn't get enough credit. We have it to thank for things like ABBA and Swedish Meatballs, but those are not the only important things to know about this country. It has an interesting and sometimes quirky history, and there is a lot you probably haven't heard about it. Here are three weird things about Sweden you never knew. Some of them may surprise you!
ABBA's Stage Outfits Were (Literally) Just for Show
You don't have to have been a fan of the band ABBA to have heard about their flashy, flamboyant stage outfits. Some of them were just plain absurd, but most people just accepted that it was their style and just a way that they expressed themselves. These people, however, were wrong. While ABBA surely had fun in these over-the-top getups, they were actually a way to avoid paying taxes. In Sweden, you have to pay taxes on clothes that are made for everyday use, but not on outfits that are meant for other purposes. So, ABBA came up with some truly out-there costumes so that no one would think that they could be used as everyday, walking-around clothes. They probably saved a lot of money that way!
Sweden's Parental Leave Will Make You Jealous
In Sweden, parenting a new baby is of the utmost importance. While in other countries a mother can take a few weeks to a few months off work after giving birth, in Sweden parents can take an incredible 480 days. That's more than a year! Sweden wants parents - both parents, not just new mothers - to spend as much time with their children as possible, so they give them ample time to connect with their newborns without worrying about job security. For the majority of this leave time, parents usually get 80 percent of their salary as long as they have been working in Sweden for 240 days and have faithfully paid their taxes. If you have not been working in Sweden for 240 days, you can still take 480 days off, but you will only receive 250 SEK per day, which is equal to around $26 USD.
Sweden's Twitter Page Used to Be Run by Well... Everyone
Starting in 2011, Sweden began an experiment in freedom of speech by allowing one random citizen to be in charge of the country's official Twitter account every week. People could make posts on almost any topic they wanted - and they did just that. Some people posted about clothes, other people posted about comic books and manga, and still others posted on more serious topics, like the risks inherent in prescription drugs. These posts were usually in English and they were usually funny or full of important facts, but at times they drew the ire of the country's leaders. The account had more than 147,000 followers from all over the world, and was ultimately seen as a big hit. Sweden has had anti-censorship laws in place since 1766, something that not many other countries can say. While this Twitter account was sadly shut down at the end of 2018, Sweden is looking to create something even bigger and better to replace it with.