Living in Sweden is sometimes complicated. The Swedish relationship with alcohol is extra strange and it takes its shape as Systembolaget, the only store selling alcohol in Sweden.

Every town has one, every city a few and every Swede visits Systembolaget at least a few times per month. This is completely reasonable as that’s the only place to buy a bottle of wine or a Swedish schnapps. To understand why this is the case we need to know the Swedish background and history.

Sweden is situated in the “Vodka Belt” together with Russia and a few more countries. The stronger alcoholic drinks have always been favored by the Swedes that were early with making purified potato and barley spirits. You have to know that there are hardly any Swedes going for a beer after work, on weekdays the stay all stay sober. What they do however is get absolutely pissed on Friday and Saturday.

The reason for this is the strict alcohol policy in Sweden. Back in the 19th century they used to get absolutely pissed every day, saw mills for example would give employees up to 3 dl of Vodka every morning before work and there was always the choice of getting paid in Alcohol instead of cash. It’s easy to say that Sweden tightened up on the drinking after that.

Systembolaget is the last that remains of a Swedish probation time during which all Swedes had a Motbok (refered to as the Bratt System in English). The Motbok was a booklet with room for stamps allowing you to buy a bottle or two per week depending on gender and social status.

Systembolaget is closed on Sundays and the always close rather early on all other days. You have to be 20 years old to purchase alcohol in Sweden and be preperad to show ID card if you are below 30. More information can be found on Systembolaget.se.