Swedish Temporal Cycles

The Swedes like it when things happen on a regular and predictable basis. You don’t, for example, just pop into somebody for a cup of tea and a chat unannounced, and if you don’t inform people about a party at least 3 weeks ahead, then you can just forget about it and eat all the cheese doodles yourself.

The reason for this love of regular cycles is the very specific form of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). It is the SCN that largely controls circadian rhytmn, and the Swedish SCN has a particular form, which we will come back to shortly.

But first a look at some cycles. One example is the fact that everybody in Sweden gets paid at the same time of the month, around the 25th. This causes a run on the bars, huge lines at Systembolaget and a sense of collective foreboding when everybody’s money runs out on the 16th or so of every month.

There is also the industrial holiday, by which I mean that everybody takes their holidays in July. The Stockholm underground goes into “summertime” mode, which mean the trains come far less often and have more drunks on them. It’s worse that Madrid, and we don’t even get a siesta.

There is also the thing about seasonal foods, things that only exist at a certain and precise time of the year. Examples of this are the Semla, the Must, the Saffranbulle and the crayfish. Although I actually approve of this one, and believe that we would all be happier if our choice in food was reduced to whatever was in season. “Choice” is bad, and simply another name for runaway consumption.

And so how do we explain this love of cycles? Well let us get back to the Swedish brain. A recent study from the Karolinska Institute studied the physical form of over 500 SCNs and determined that the normal form of the cell cluster in Sweden was as follows:


And that, if you ask me, explains that.

/ paddy


9 thoughts on “Swedish Temporal Cycles

  1. You’ve just given me insight into the Germans, their love of predictability (I nearly said regularity, which doesn’t sound as good, but then I remembered that the Germans are very concerned about regularity too) – they have a unique circadian rhythm that I haven’t acquired yet.

    Do you know that all German children’s birthday parties start at 15h00?
    That all German children’s play dates start at 15h00?
    That all Germans go on holiday in August?
    That all Germans book those holidays at least a year in advance?

    I could go on, but I won’t. I’ll just say that the normal German cell cluster is determined by Brezeln.

  2. lexfoster: To paraphrase J. B. Jovi: I’ll live when I’m alive, I’ll be predictable when I’m dead!

    charlotteotter: They like 15:00, don’t they? What that time exactly? Something with the humidity?

  3. Wow. The Swedes sound like polar opposites of us Malaysians. People here go on holiday at all kinds of times (even during their mock exams) and the only remotely seasonal thing in our country is the collective IQ of our politicians.

    PS. What the heck is that?! A heart-attack sandwich?!

  4. charlie: As furiku points out, it is the Swedish national bun – the mighty Semla. Very yummy actually.

    furiku: Nice work attacking religion on your blog – I’m all in favour of that! Zombie saviours indeed…

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