What Makes a Swede?-A Swede? Allt för Sverige?

What steps or building blocks contribute to one’s Swedish framework, constitution, chosen lifestyle?

What makes a Swede a Swede?

Through sixteen years of research I have pursued the quest to discover how my Swedish Grandma Maja’s essence of guts, gumption, gritty framatånda and resilience was built into her character, personality traits, and lifestyle.

At the same time I have examined my own Swedish roots and connections of heritage, genealogy and manifestations in my 72 years of life as a very proud Swedish American.

Exploring the source of conditioning for Grandma Maja and family focuses on these distinguishing resilience and strength of character traits,-experts point to an intense look first at one’s genetic foundation.

Fact is, I find it very comfortable with identifying with my Swedish American heritage and lifestyle.

Living as a proud grandfather of four for the past seven years provided insights about child rearing with a Swedish ethnic emphasis.

My son, Erik and granddaughter Maja

As a career professional educator, I have had an abundance of time to see how parents, grandparents, teachers and coaches potentially impact growth and development.

I am fascinated with elements of emphasis of Swedish culture. Children in our homes growing up are subject to adult guidance. Are they free to roam?

Behavioral scientists often suggest that characteristic personality traits such as mentioned above are grown and formed over time.

In many cases childhood character is influenced and shaped by features such as: upbringing, formal education, formative experiences and practice. Character also may be influenced by genes and heredity.

Our ancestors left behind stories, habits, patterns of thought and behavior often brought to notice and copied, mimicked, adapted.
Grandma Maja was a brilliant teacher and mentor eager to explain her very Swedish childhood and deep family roots.

For me, I identify with this T shirt design: I am American Grown on Swedish Roots.

This blog explores My Maja and My Search for Swedish American Family Identity Through Genealogy and Family History

Entering into a search for one’s identity is very popular today. In particular, “Allt för Sverige,” is practically an icon in expressing in visual art form, a vicarious experience of yearning to know more about their very own Swedish personal identity.

In the form of a Reality TV show thousands view the often emotional journey of traveling to Sweden with the hope of being reunited with Swedish relatives.

I married a Danish/Pole who recently picked up an interesting book:

We found the book interesting and fun to learn the author’s ideas of how to adopt “Swedishness”

For 50 years my dear wife has been immersed in a Swedish American family who strongly identify with Swedish customs. We often discuss the question: what makes a Swede, a Swede?

Together, we have inherited many customs and traditions associated with the country and people of Sweden. In my book, My Maja A Grandson’s Tribute I explain how from an early age I was immersed in an environment said to be “intentionally Swedish American”

What does it mean to be Swedish American?

Benefitting from the strong Swedish traditional influence of Grandma Maja, as well as Maja’s children’s protégés, –

I wonder: what Swedish culture, traditions, education, and life-long experiences can be claimed as adding to my self perceived Swedish character and love of my Swedish roots?

From the time I was born, Grandma Maja and her three children created child rearing circumstances and kindergarten-like surroundings that directly and indirectly “took me to school”,-learning —Swedish Ways.

Hand made straw ornaments, Swedish flags “belong on Christmas trees”….

Language, food, attitudes, newspapers, holidays, traditions like birthday celebrations, music all independently and cumulatively add up to immersion and conscious awareness. Adopting Swedish traits, over time, becomes a matter of choice.

Ethnic Identity

Experts say: “Ethnic identity development includes the identity formation in an individual’s self-categorization in, and psychological attachment to, ethnic group. Ethnic identity is characterized as part of one’s overarching self-concept and identification. It is distinct from the development of ethnic group identities.” Wikipedia

Ethnic Family Identity

Family ethnicity is the sum total of our ancestry and cultural dimensions: how families collectively identify the core of their beings. Our ethnicity is fundamental to the all-encompassing core of our identity.


I am a proud son and grandson of Swedish immigrants and all that goes with that label and identity.

The word “heritage” brings to mind different ideas for different people—and it should. Heritage is a person’s unique, inherited sense of family identity: the values, traditions, culture, and artifacts handed down by previous generations. We absorb a sense of our heritage throughout our lives as we observe and experience the things that make our family unique. Although not every inherited trait, tendency, or tradition is positive, we generally consider heritage to be the positive and meaningful elements of our family’s identity that we incorporate into our own lives and pass along to succeeding generations.

Grandma gathered her family together and played piano and we sang Swedish songs.

Heritage can express itself in many ways. Some families define their heritage primarily as their ethnic, cultural, or national identity. Other families can point to values that have been passed on, such as a love for education, participation in community life, a strong work ethic, or religious devotion. People may feel that an inherited aptitude—such as for music or mechanics, athletics or art—is part of their heritage

Looking back I decided to unpack some of the perceived environmental elements that have played a part in nurturing my Swedish natural genetics.

Like building blocks, from birth, what kinds of conditioning factors have been added, or been influential in contributing to my “Swedish” ways, attitudes, knowledge lifestyle inclinations (….and passed along by association to my family and children?)

Swedish Heritage for Me Relates to FAMILY As the: “Allt för Sverige” -The Beginning and the End of my Roots and Wings!

This family photo was taken as the family gathered for my confirmation. “Everybody “ in my life is pictured, grandparents, aunts and uncles, mom and dad and siblings.
Swedish Family gathering on the family compound on the island of Ornö Nest Stockholm
The church where my grandma met my grandfather. My grandfather was buried and his funeral occurred there. Swedish Lutheran Church connects to our roots in America and Sweden.
The Chicago Swedish Museum has attracted our family for many years. We are proud to support its future.

Published by Donnie: An Admiring Grandson

Living an inspired life modeled after my Grandma Maja who stepped up as a Swedish immigrant widow mom of 3 facing America’s Great Depression demonstrating uncommon grit and valor overcoming imperfections. I am determined to share her life lessons so she is no longer forgotten. I have a book to share and the reader will preview the entire story by visiting here. You are most welcome

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