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About the inventory

Living traditions – an inventory of intangible cultural heritage in Sweden.

The inventory is part of the work with UNESCO's Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Sweden. The countries that have joined create one or more inventories of living, intangible cultural heritage in their own country. Countries which wish to submit an application to the international lists must first be able to show that the proposed element is included in a national inventory. The Institute for Language and Folklore has the overall responsibility for this work in Sweden and it is carried out together with a range of stakeholders. Anyone who is interested can submit proposals.

Tools to communicate knowledge

According to the convention, the inventory should be a tool to identify, describe and communicate knowledge about the different elements of intangible cultural heritage. It may include widespread traditions and knowledge, but also elements which are only practiced by a small group of people. We hope that the inventory work in Sweden will provide opportunities for new knowledge, diversity and participation.

A living document

The inventory is a living document which is constantly updated. Because of this it is connected to a database, which continuously preserves the submissions. The work can be seen as a form of documentation. We hope that the inventory will be a growing source of knowledge about the living traditions of our time.

What is included on the list?

The work to list the living traditions of Sweden takes place within the framework of the UNESCO Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage.


Performances, shows or productions - something which takes place in front of others, such as in front of an audience. This may include the preparation and things which are used during the performance, such as spectator/audience attendance and participation. The theatre is one of many examples in this area.


Different forms of oral traditions and expression are gathered here, such as stories, proverbs, rhymes, ballads, jokes, poetry and other word skills.


These are examples which are linked to all kinds of celebrations, it includes celebrations of our life, the year or other things belonging to religious or other collective contexts. Festivities, fun, rituals or ceremonies that recur and mark something special.

Music and dance

Dancing, singing and playing music is the means of expression that is exercised in the most diverse contexts; together or alone, at work, leisure, celebrations, in private, in public, it can be ceremonial, political, sorrow, playful, express love, the examples are endless.

Social practices

By social practices we mean social customs and forms of coexistence, both in everyday life and in formal contexts.


Craft skills of all kinds have been passed from one practitioner to another throughout the ages, for their own use or for professional use. "The knowledge of the hands" is sometimes used to describe the skill which comes with long experience and can't always be described in words. It is also about the ability of the senses to determine quality, measurements, skill level or how a movement is best performed.

Food traditions

What do we eat, and when, how and why? Food is associated with human survival, but also with social patterns - meetings, experiences and traditions are created around food. This applies to both preparing ingredients when cooking food and routines around the mealtimes.

The Institute for Language and Folklore has a special government mission to promote a living and dynamic cultural heritage linked to food and food production.

Knowledge of nature and the universe

For example knowledge, skills, customs, thought patterns and beliefs rooted in people's relationship to nature, and our place in the universe.

Methodological examples

This includes programmes, projects and activities which show how we can work to document or pass on knowledge and which can serve as a model. This can include different associations, networks, training or special techniques which are focused on documenting intangible cultural heritage. Some examples are storytelling networks, workshops, courses in craft techniques, organisation of seminars and conferences and voluntary work.

Uppdaterad 09 November 2021

Contact information

Department of Dialectology, Onomastics and Folklore Research in Gothenburg (DAG)

Phone: +46(0)31-10 75 30
E-mail: dag@isof.se