Winter is a cruel time of the year for anyone unlucky enough to experience it. But if you ask the Scandinavians, they will just smile and laugh. Being people who live in the most beautiful countries in the world, these people are also known as being the happiest, even in the winter.
Unlike the rest of the world, Scandinavians don’t fear or run from the cold, they embrace it as part of their culture. That’s what travelers have to do to survive if they want to see the beauty of these lands. But don’t let the chill of winter scare you away from having the time of your life in Scandinavia.
Prepare for Scandinavia in winter
It’s a rookie mistake—if you’re going to survive and enjoy Scandinavia in winter you can’t underestimate what you’ll be facing. Whether are the temperature or the right mindset, the most important thing above all is having the right attitude. You should know in the winter months Scandinavia will have 24 hour nights; you’ll need to be prepared to handle the dark and its effects on your body.
Being in an area with subzero temperatures with all day darkness is known to affect your mood (SAS, seasonal affective disorder). Making you feel irritable, depressed, and even tired. However, it’s important even with the lack of sunlight, not to oversleep. This will only hurt your body and make you feel even more tired. Once you up, get out of bed and get going!
“Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder!”
As I mentioned before, Scandinavian people are some of the happiest people around. Even their mottos on living in the cold have an upbeat tone to them. For instance, “Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder”, is a Swedish saying that means “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing”. They hit the nail on the head with that one!
Temperature can drop well below zero here and take into account the fact that there’s hardly any sun, you will easily freeze to death if you’re not wearing the right clothing. That includes wool clothing, a heavy insulated jacket, multiple layers of long underwear or thermals, thick gloves (or one of the native hand-knitted gloves, lovikkavantar), and a warm hat, preferably the one with the ear flaps. Staying warm is imperative to not freezing and being mentally and physically bruised by the stinging chill of Scandinavia in winter.
The Day’s not done When the Sun Goes Down
One of the biggest mistakes to a trip to Scandinavia in winter is thinking the day is over when the sun goes down. Although most of the time you may experience 24-hour nights, there are times where there’s the sun but the days are extremely short during that time. However, the day’s far from over when the darkness descends.
The truth is, Scandinavians know how to have fun and enjoy the winter better than everyone else. Even during the epically long 24-hour nights, and the traditional short days, the other part of the world is accustomed to; Scandinavians are out and about living life. Even the children are seen playing and frolicking in the snow long after the sun falls. It’s a part of their culture and their way of life.
The nightlife is full of winter activities that most only think you can do during the day. The towns and cities during winter are covered in lights and they never turn them off. You don’t have to be forced indoors and sit around and do indoor things like reading, nonsense. Venture outside, live life like the happiest people on Earth do!
Hygge & Fredagskos
Let’s talk about hygge. Hygge is a Danish word that can’t be translated into English because it’s not just a word; it’s a state of being. It’s the warm feeling you get inside when you do anything you enjoy. For you, it may be sitting down to enjoy a traditional Danish meal with some new friends in Copenhagen, or sipping on Danish gløgg (local mulled wine) aside from a fire staring at the stars through your window, or getting in a town-wide snowball fight with some locals. If you do anything that can give you a cozy sense of joy, then you’re doing hygge right.
On the other, the Norwegians have a similar version of hygge, although theirs differs a bit to the Danes, it’s called fredagskos or fredagsmys, and you’re going to love it! It’s the art of staying in with friends or family or both, and overindulging on snacks and tacos, while watching television. However, there are some rules you must follow to have a truly authentic fredagskos experience.
First, it can only happen on a Friday, no excuses there, as Saturday’s are for partying in Scandinavia in winter. Next, it’s possible to carry out fredagskos by yourself, but it much more enjoyable around others, especially when you sing the fredagskos song (Norway and Sweden have different versions). Now, this is the golden rule that you can’t break no matter what, there must be tacos and you must eat a lot of them. Also, you have to have a lot of crisps (chips or anything that crunches loudly) with plenty of dips to dunk them in. Next, make sure you have an assortment of sweets, from fruity goodness to salty delights, the more the better. And, yes, chocolates are allowed…and encouraged. Lastly, sitting on the couch with family and watching TV until you pass out. Fredagskos is no joke on Fridays, and it’s definitely not a day for dieting.
Keep Moving, Don’t Stop
By now it’s clear that Scandinavia in winter is going to be cold, especially if you underestimate it, but one easy trick to surviving while enjoying all that Scandinavia has to offer is by keep moving.
Scandinavia has some of the cleanest and fresh air in the world. Every sniff of this chilled air has health effects more apparent than you think. Cold, clear air does your lungs well, it allows for more oxygen to be transfer so your muscles and body feel more energized. You need to keep that blood pumping, and activities and exercise are the best way to get that done. Hiking, skiing, and snowboarding, cross country skiing (used to travel all over), sledding, ice skating, making a snow fort, or go out and walk the streets.
Final Piece of Advice
Scandinavia in winter, you will not want to miss the sight, it’s that one of a kind experience that you tell your grandkids someday about. These countries are beautiful with their scenic views, untamed wilderness, and warm happy people. To survive and enjoy your trip to this enchanted land is quite easy. Now you’re a pro at knowing how to make it out of Scandinavia alive, and with some awesome experience along the way.
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