Swedish Traditions: Fredagsmys

It’s Friday everyone! In homes across Sweden cushions are being plumped, bowls filled, and remote controls placed in strategic positions as Sweden readies for a newish national weekend pastime – the Mys!

Previously we  have investigated the history behind Swedes’ Saturday stampede to the sweet counter – it’s now time to take a look at another weekend tradition: the Fredagsmys.

Roughly translated, Fredagsmys means “Cozy Friday”.  At best it is a nice evening in en famille with something nice to eat. At worst, it’s code for ‘let’s pig out and act like total gluttons for the evening.’

Looking at it from the outside, it would seem as if the typical Swede starts off their Cozy Friday by climbing into their comfy clothes and having takeout pizza for dinner. Once the pizza disappears they swiftly move on to eating their own body weight in crisps, ice cream, fizzy drinks and assorted other snacks while curled up in front of the telly watching movies or their favourite television programs. Parents, if they’re worth their salt as Swedes, will probably throw some wine or beer into the mix and, at some point, fall asleep on the sofa.

Ok, so it probably isn’t always that bad. But it does raise questions, to me at least, about the dangers of holding back all week just to go wild on junk food as the weekend arrives. Not to mention where the Swedes’ fascination with the mysterious mys comes from.

The genesis of Cozy Friday is a bit murky. Some Swedes would swear blind that the tradition came into being as far back as the 80’s when – let’s face it – Friday and Saturday nights were the only evenings when TV was any good (and we’re talking Dallas and Alf, here). However, most people date the advent of the concept to the mid-1990s, when Swedish snack-maker OWL released the first of a long series of television commercials hailing the joys of chomping on crisps after a hard week’s work.

The commercials, by the way, were – and remain – so popular that you’d be hard pressed to find a Swede unable to sing along to. The name took off and by 2007, Fredagsmys was included in the Swedish dictionary, much to the delight of families across the country.

Although many Swedes would defend the Fredagsmys tradition, there are those – even among the natives – who find the tradition less than appealing. The completely unscientific poll I undertook via social media revealed some very strong feelings on the topic:

“No no no no no to Fredagsmys,”said one respondent.

“NEVER NEVER NEVER shall I EVER mys,” said another.

“If you need the mys then something is wrong with your life,” said a third.

While the thundering replies were overwhelmingly against Cozy Fridays, I must admit there were a few voices crying out in the wilderness for tolerance of this tradition.

“It’s a fun thing to do with the kids,” was one reply.

“I can’t live without my Friday Mys. I need to kick back and eat junk and watch bad TV,’” said another supporter.

So, whether you’re for or against, it doesn’t look like the Mys is going anywhere anytime soon, which is good news for anyone who wants to lounge on the sofa at the end of the week with the excuse of “when in Rome…”.

However, if you haven’t tried it yet but want to dive right in – here’s the drill: order pizzas on your way home (Swedes would most likely recommend the Kebab pizza – and don’t hold back on the extra Bearnaisé sauce). While heading to pick up the pizza, stop off at the grocery store to stock up on assorted naughty snacks, then grab the food, head home, open the door with your arms brimming with delicious junk and listen to the cheers that will greet you.

Extra points to those who can do all this while chanting the Cozy Friday anthem: “Nu är det slut på veckan nu är det dags för fredagsmyyyyys…”


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