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Why Do Swedish Students Love Yelling So Much?

This weekend the internet discovered the "Flogsta scream," a decades-old tradition where Swedish students all yell out their windows at the same time.
November 19, 2014, 6:00pm

​Some guy screaming. Photo by Nina Aldin Thune​

This post originally appeared in VICE Sweden

Don't you just love stumbling upon things that apparently are common in your native country even though you've never experienced them yourself?

​That happened to me last year, when the Daily Mail ​broke a​ story about it being legal to publicly masturbate in my home country of Sweden (​it's no​t true), and yesterday it happened again as the ​Flogsta ​scream suddenly went ​vir​al.

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The Flogsta scream is a tradition where students living near universities open their windows and shout at around 10 PM or 11 PM, depending on where they live. It got international attention over the weekend, however, when ​MTV posted a year-old video in which a student opens the window in his student flat at Lappskärrsberget in Stockholm, screams out into the night, and in return hears screams from all over the place as if he had just summoned something occult. The headline on the post says, "​if someone screams out their window in Sweden, Sweden screams right back."

No, the entire country won't scream back. But students living in ​Sernanders väg in Uppsala will at around 10 PM every day, as will the kids in  ​La​ppkärrsberget, but only on ​Tuesdays ​at 1​0 PM and students in Lund at 11 PM.

​And it's not like "no one really knows why it happens" as the Huffington Post  ​claimed in a post about the scream last year that noted it might have started as a ritual to remember a student who committed suicide in the 70s.

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A couple years ago archivist Fredrik Tersmeden at Lund University ​told the Sydsvenska newspaper that the most common explanation to the screams comes from a bunch of students at the Delphi campus in Lund. Apparently they saw a documentary about primal screams and decided to express the agony they felt around their exams through shouting. Tersmeden also says that the Flogsta scream was first known as the "Delphi scream" before it spread from Lund to other university cities, where the name changed depending on the area.

In the  Uppsala and Lappkärrsberget neighborhoods of Stockholm, students would scream out their pain and agony in the 1970s and 1980s. The tradition had mostly died out there by 2006, when a couple of kids hosting the show Lantz on a student radio station ​brought it back in an attempt to break a world record.

These days,  ​universities r​emind their students of where and when they should scream, ​film​s have been made about these primal yells, and local newspapers generally have a few articles about them every year around the time schools kick off.

But foreigners reading these stories should note that misleading headlines aside, all of Sweden doesn't get together and scream: It's just a weird  student thing—just like ​putting drinks on your head, singing weird songs, wearing ​weird hats, or having weird sex with your classmates.

Follow Caisa Ederyd on ​Twitter