If you have lived in Sweden for a period of time and have Swedish friends then you will surely recognize all the hugs (kramar/kram) that are given. If you look sad, when you are happy or look worried, anytime you are around friends (and sometimes even when you aren’t) you will receive hugs. It is kind of our (Swedes) way of saying: “How are you?” or “I have noticed you, what has happened?” (In both the sense, has something good happened, or has something bad happened?) But also when greeting a friend, often when meeting after a longer period of time. Everyday greeting hugs are also very common.
Of course young people have a lot of physical contact but even older people in Sweden show affection in a physical way. This can be quite a cultural shock for people who come from places with different cultural customs.
Different hugs list:
“Happy Birthday, or other special occasion” hug
“I just feel like hugging you” hug
“I love you” hug
“Good work” hug
(sorry if I have forgotten some, which I’m sure I have)
Please note that not all Swedes are this way! I think it is more of a characteristic for Sweden than some other countries.
In Sweden and most of the western world you shake hands when you first meet somebody as a greeting. But in countries where you just bow, is that a sign that people refrain from all physical contact?
What does physical contact say in your country? And more importantly if somebody does not follow the cultural customs for example when greeting, what happens?