Every evening at 10pm, students living in the Flogsta neighborhood of Uppsala, Sweden stick their heads out the window and scream. No one knows how it started, but most accounts say it began in the 1970s and has been going on every night since.
Companies have come to expect employees to take leave irrespective of gender, and not to penalize fathers at promotion time. Women's paychecks are benefiting and the shift in fathers' roles is perceived as playing a part in lower divorce rates and increasing joint custody of children.
In perhaps the most striking example of social engineering, a new definition of masculinity is emerging.
"Many men no longer want to be identified just by their jobs," said Bengt Westerberg, who long opposed quotas but as deputy prime minister phased in a first month of paternity leave in 1995. "Many women now expect their husbands to take at least some time off with the children."
Birgitta Ohlsson, European affairs minister, put it this way: "Machos with dinosaur values don't make the top-10 lists of attractive men in women's magazines anymore."
Heading into dinner last night, I believed with certainty that Finland was one of the Scandinavian countries. I rebuffed Mr. Jones' attempts to disabuse me of that notion before dessert arrived, but it wasn't until this morning that I checked into the matter and found that he may be correct.
I called the Finnish Embassy in Washington, D.C., where press aide Mari Poyhtari started by saying Finland is part of Scandinavia, but then someone in the background disagreed and she corrected herself. The most accurate term is Fenno-Scandinavia or the Nordic countries, Poyhtari said. But, she admitted, "We always say we're part of Scandinavia."
Geographically, the Scandinavian peninsula includes mainland Norway, Sweden, and part of Finland.
In the region, the common definition includes Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.
Outside of the region, the term often includes not only Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland but also Iceland, a grouping commonly called the Nordic countries.
Linguistically speaking (pardon the pun), the Finnish language is unrelated to Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish, which is an argument for the cultural exclusion of Finland from Scandinavia.
So there you go, clear as mud. Probably best to avoid the issue altogether in the future by using the term Nordic instead of Scandinavian. All look same anyway.
Update:Underbelly notes that this "issue is in no way limited to Scandinavians":
It's the kind of muddiness you just have to expect when you consider any culture. Was Cleopatra an Egyptian? Are the Tasmanians British? What did the Byzanatines have in mind when they described themselves as "The Romans" while fighting wars against, well, Rome?