Religious Beliefe. At birth all Swedes automatically become members of the Lutheran Protestant State Church, but they have the right to leave the church. Ninety-two percent of the Swedish population belongs to it. The majority of people do not go to church regularly, but most children are baptized and confirmed, and most Swedes are married and buried by the church. During the nineteenth century there were many pietistic movements characterized by a puritan life-style. In the north of Sweden the Laestadian movement is still vital. Swedish peasant society believed that the landscape was crowded with various supernatural beings.
Religious Practitioners. Shamans were part of the Saami religion and are considered prophets of the Laestadian movement. Today the ministers of the Lutheran Protestant State Church are both male and female.
Ceremonies. There are not many religious ceremonies in contemporary Sweden. Certainly some celebrations have a Religious origin—Advent, Lucia, Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide—but only a minority of the Swedes think of these celebrations as religious.
Arts. Swedish folk art and handicrafts present many Regional variations because of differences in the availability of raw materials. Straw products were usual in Skåne, whereas birch-bark products were common in Norrland. The Saami made, and still make, richly ornamented knives and spoons from reindeer horn. In Dalecarlia human hair was used to produce rings, necklaces, and brooches, which were sold all over Sweden until 1925, when they went out of fashion. The traditional Swedish textiles are wool and flax. A weaving technique used mainly in south and western Sweden is röllakan. Dalecarlia is famous for its wall painting. Blacksmithing is another handicraft with a long tradition. Folk art is noticeable in the modern design of glassware, ceramics, woodwork, textiles, furniture, silver, and stainless steel.
Medicine. Traditional folk medicine made use of magical objects as well as locally grown plants. As illness was often attributed to spirit possession, various kinds of healing rituals were also used. These were mainly readings, for example of charms, and various types of curing by local healers' or priests' touch. Medical knowledge was passed from one Generation to the next. During the nineteenth century, several literate healers read official medical books. They picked up fragments of information from these books, which they combined with their traditional knowledge. Sometimes this led to conflicts between local healers and district medical officers and sometimes to a division of labor, with local healers often being respected for their ability to cure allergies and various skin diseases.
Death and Afterlife. Beliefs in a life after death certainly influenced the daily life in preindustrial Sweden. Currently, such beliefs are not integrated into everyday life but are privately held. The Tornedalians in the north still practice a Funeral ritual, which in earlier days was common in several areas. Immediately after the death the family, neighbors, and close friends gather around the deceased, in his or her home, and "sing him/her out." Two weeks after this ritual, the Formal funeral takes place in the church.