I have been living -and working as a designer- in Scandinavian countries (Denmark and then Sweden) for the last three years. Scandinavian culture is unique and distinctive on many levels. But if there is one thing that I consider to be the key to decode and understand the weirdness of Scandinavian culture, from the traumatic high tax system to the ultra-minimal design approach, It would be the Janteloven or The Law of Jante (pronounced: Yante).
Jante law was first introduced in the novel A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks (En flyktning krysser sitt spor, 1933) for the Danish-Norwegian writer Aksel Sandemose. The novel takes place in the fictional Danish village of Jante. The law was the author’s sarcastic way of describing a prominent attitude of Scandinavians.
The law consists of 10 points. But they are basically revolving around one idea:
Be humble. Don’t think or act like you are special or better than anyone else (even if you actually are).