Swedish Language Blog

Vecka 2 Posted by on Jan 6, 2009 in Culture

If you are a new arrival to Sweden, there is something that you will notice almost immediately. Even sooner than immediately (if that’s at all possible) if you have school-age kids.
Or maybe you’ve already noticed it when dealing on-line with various Swedish establishments.

I’m talking about the charming, but vaguely inconvenient to the uninitiated, way in which Swedes use the calendar.

You see, things are counted in weeks over here.
A notice may appear at your local gym proclaiming it closed vecka 28-30, for example. With no dates added. Why no dates? Because almost everybody here knows exactly when weeks 28, 29 and 30 are.

Weeks are numbered on almost all calendars available for sale in Sweden (except for the one I bought at Ica MAXI, but it has cute kitten pictures instead, so it’s a fair trade, in my opinion).

When the weeks are in single digits, it’s easy enough to keep track of them. We are now in week 2 – vecka 2 of 2009. But just wait till summertime rolls around and you will have to decipher when week 28 begins.

Because the weeks are not numbered in my calendar, I printed out this handy chart I found on the internet and stuck it on my fridge.

And as you can see above the chart, even vacation rentals are reserved by week number, and not the actual date.
You will see week numbers on correspondence from your local vårdcentral (health clinic), library, your kids’ school, on announcements from all sorts of organizations, including Migrationsverket, and even on supermarket circulars.

So, in other words, week numbers = important stuff in Sweden.

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  1. David from Oregon:

    I always thought that the Swedish way of counting in weeks was very convenient and clever. It’s just different at first. I think it’s a lot easier to say, for example, vecka 12 instead of 16 mars through 22 mars. Also the Swedish often write day-month-year instead of month-day-year. And Monday is the first day of the week of course.

  2. Kenia:

    I think this custom just complicates things, isn’t it better to write the exact dates on the announcements? It’s certainly faster to write, but tougher for the one who reads, of course you get used to it, but if Anna is having troubles with it, what to expect for the new arrivals? =)


  3. Golnar:

    hej dear Anna ,
    I just found your weblog and I am happy now . It s Fantastic . I am reading your archive and taking some note … I am studying svenska on myself. your weblog is really helpfull . I am exited because this was exactly what I want — afer years of surfing on net I finally found YOU ! :X

  4. Golnar:

    and about your new post … actually I knew nothing about this vecka system while I was searching about the opening dates of universities in sweden . some where i saw ” week 35″( if i am not mistaken now ) and i was totally confused — at that time it was like ” oh my god!!!! — I have to count the weeks ?!!???!! No!!!!! :O ) :D:D

    Thnx Anna . :X

  5. Lelia:

    Hej Anna,

    Great info as always. Interesting info and rather logical and concise to have the week numbers in regards to Swedish calendars. Do you know where online I can find Swedish calendars from vendors that ship to North America? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers and Thank you,

  6. Mats:

    There’s also the handy site http://www.vecka.nu if you have trouble remembering the week number.

  7. Anna:

    Hi guys!
    Thanks for your comments!

    David, the vecka+number system doesn’t really bother me personally, but it can be problematic at work. I don’t think it’s that much harder to say “the week of July 6th” for example than “vecka 28.” And at least with “the week of July 6th” everybody knows what I mean. Also, the vecka+number thing can lead to funny situations in business meetings, and I’ve witnessed a few myself.

    You’re not the only one who thinks it complicates things. Our local health authority is realizing it too. For the past few years they’ve been complaining that not enough foreign residents get the flu shots in our town, and the VLL just couldn’t figure out why. Duh! It’s obvious when you look at the announcements – even though they were written in English, they went something like this: “Flu shots will be available week 41 and 42 (or something like that, I don’t remember the exact week numbers). So they’re slowly trying to change and write the full dates.

    welcome to the blog! And get ready to count those weeks! LOL!

    it’s tough to find places that would ship to the US, that’s true. You know what? Give a buzz to the Swedish-American chamber of commerce, they may even have some Swedish calendars to give away (that’s how I think I got a few when I was in the US):
    or ask at the Swedish Institute:
    Good luck!

  8. Steve:

    Am I missing something ? This would work three years out of four but in a leap year surely the star day in Feb then throws it out later in the year ?