Swedish Culture

Naming

  • Swedish naming conventions structure names in a similar format to the English-speaking West, with the surname following the given name(s) (e.g. Olivia Alice ERIKSSON).
  • Some Swedes continue the tradition of giving a child a name unique to the family, which is often the name of a relative.
  • People are not necessarily referred to by their first name. Some may be referred to by their middle name.
  • When writing their name on documents, Swedes will underline the name they are usually referred to by. For example, Isak Jonas ANDERSSON.
  • Many Swedish last names end in ‘-SON’ (for example, KARLSSON). This name structure traditionally means “son of -” (e.g. KARLSSON = ‘son of Karl’). However, the tradition of forming surnames in this way ended a long time ago and today most people do not know the relative that their family tree was initially named after.
  • Couples can choose which surname a child is given. However, a newly born child is given the mother’s surname by default if no surname is chosen.

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