After recovering from the excitement over the almost-disaster of buying plane tickets on-line, let’s do some pillowtalk:
Yesterday I was checking out some posts on one of my favourite interior design web-sites; ApartmentTherapy.com, when I saw the following comment “Do Swedish people not use or need pillows?” on a post about a Swedish summerhouse and it made me think of the cultural differences of pillow use.
In the US a bed doesn’t seem to be entirely made until it is covered in pillows and shams. Sham is another American word that I had never heard (in the bed context) until I moved to Puerto Rico! It always makes me think of a scene in Sex and the City where Charlotte and her then-husband Trey are arguing while un-making the bed, pillow by pillow (or shams?)… It is quite a funny scene, even though they are discussing the serious subject of infertility, but the whole pillow&sham situation makes it silly.
So, no wonder that the American (I presume) reader of the Swedish summerhouse post thought that the pillow-less beds looked a little bare (see bedroom photo in the post linked above)! I guess that the pillows might have been removed for the photo shoot or maybe the people owning the house don’t use pillows! In my family, both my parents sleep with very thin pillows, and I am always complaining that the pillows at home are useless (too flat).
When I arrived to our furnished apartment here in San Juan, one of the first things I did was remove all the decorative pillows and shams that were covering the bed! I think that I counted to 8 pieces, and I was actually a little confused – which ones stay in the bed and which are to be removed when sleeping?
Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE pillows and sometimes go under the name of “The Pillow Girl” (O’s nickname for me). I need at least three pillows – two for under my head and one to hug while sleeping. O uses one… Recently we bought new pillows (memory-foam) and I tried twice to sleep on one – but it hurt my neck as it was too high. Funny, O now uses one of the memory foam pillows even though it is higher than two of our old feather-down pillows together.
However, you can call me lazy, but I don’t want to spend 5 minutes every night removing stuff from the bed… We actually never use the bedspread (överkast), and just re-arrange the sheet (duvet when living in a cooler climate) and the pillows we sleep on in order to make the bed in the morning.
Nevertheless, there is one place where I don’t think you can have too many pillows and it is in the sofa! The other day when Saltis and I were sitting down for a cup of tea in their sofa, she made the remark that her husband always gets annoyed with all the pillows in the sofa and throws them on the floor – O does the same!! Is it a girl thing to like pillows?? What do you think – do you also have lots of pillows in your sofa?
And a question: In which European country do you have SQUARE pillows (for the bed)? In the US there is something called Euro-sham, which measures 26″ x 26″ (66 cm x 66 cm) and I am curious where that measurement comes from? I am trying to think of the different pillows I have slept on in different countries – they all seem to have been rectangular (usually longer than the Swedish ones, which are 50 x 60 cm).
For those of you who are interested in definitions:
Pillow: a bag or case made of cloth that is filled with feathers, down, or other soft material, and is used to cushion the head during sleep or rest
Sham: a cover or the like for giving a thing a different outward appearance: a pillow sham. A pillow sham is used for a pillow that is only decorative.
Cushion: a soft bag of cloth, leather, or rubber, filled with feathers, air, foam rubber, etc., on which to sit, kneel, or lie.
And American pillow sizes:
Standard: 50 x 66 cm (20 x 26″)
King: 50 x 91 cm (20 x 36″)
European: 66 x 66 cm (26 x 26″)
Spanish twin beds and a thin rectangular pillow can be seen on the right. I like how the chandelier is reflected on the wall in the photo. This is the room where we used to sleep, but nowadays we have our own room at O’s parents’ place.
And a funny pillow story to finish off:
In the autumn of 2002 some of my fellow masterini* and I, who happened to all live in Belgium, organised a reunion in Brussels. Among us, we managed to host everybody in our homes so nobody had to sleep in a hotel. I lived in a tiny attic apartment with a small bedroom + a sleeping loft, and we were 7 of us, so I had asked my Austrian friend T** to bring a mattress, since he was driving from The Hague.
The friends that I were hosting arrived from different corners of Europe, and T was a little late as usual. When he unpacked his car I asked him about the mattress. He said “Oh, I decided to not bring a mattress, but I brought my pillow“!! Well, the pillow was big (square when I think about it!) but a little small to sleep on, so I guess he wasn’t that comfortable during the two nights he stayed at my place… But as the saying goes “as you make your bed, you must lie in it”! That he was utterly shocked by the fact that we were two Swedish girls and one Swedish guy sharing the sofa bed is another story 😉
*) Nickname for the students who have studied my Master’s programme in Venice – it really should be masteroni after graduation but the Italian diminutive just stuck..
**) Austrian T was the one who took over my apartment in Brussels when I moved to Puerto Rico – but he has since then moved back to Vienna.