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7 Winter Scandinavian Traditions to Fight Your Cold Weather Blues

Back view of young traveler girl in gloves and hat standing over snowy mountain peaks
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Winter can be a difficult time for many people, with shorter days, colder temperatures, and often a lack of sunshine. However, in Scandinavian countries, people have developed a range of traditions that help them to embrace the winter season and enjoy all that it has to offer. Here are a few that you can implement into your own life this winter.

Embrace Hygge

Cold autumn or winter weekend while reading a book and drinking warm cocoa
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You’ve probably already heard about this Danish tradition, considering how popular it has become in the United States in recent years. Hygge refers to a sense of coziness, comfort, and well-being.

It is often associated with activities such as relaxing with friends or family, enjoying good food and drink, and creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Want to make your home more hygge friendly? Turn to cozy additions, like candles, warm slippers, and soft blankets.

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Conquer the Outdoors

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Friluftsliv is a Norwegian word that means “free air life” or “outdoor life.” It refers to the idea of spending time in nature and enjoying outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, fishing, and skiing.

Friluftsliv is an important part of Norwegian culture and is seen as a way to connect with the natural world and find balance and peace. It is also a way to promote physical activity and healthy living. Many people in Norway and other parts of the Scandinavian region participate in friluftsliv and make an effort to spend time outdoors, even in the colder months.

Try to get outside more this winter, whether that means trying out skiing for the first time or just taking a walk around the block every day. Strap on a good pair of winter boots and brave the outdoors—you’ll be happy you did.

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Dress For the Weather

Group of girl friends enjoying taking selfies in the snow in winter
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The saying “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!” is a common phrase in the Scandinavian region that reflects the region’s harsh climate and the importance of being prepared for any type of weather. This saying suggests that as long as you are properly dressed and equipped for the weather, you can enjoy being outside and participating in outdoor activities no matter what the weather is like.

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This attitude is an important part of Scandinavian culture and reflects the region’s strong connection to nature and outdoor life. And as much as you might hate the cold, there is a lot of truth in this saying. If you’re always shivering and uncomfortable outside in the winter, you’re probably not dressing correctly.

One of the most important items you can own is a good coat. Depending on where you live, you might be comfortable with a wool coat that can be layered with a sweater.

If you live somewhere super cold, you’re going to want an insulated coat that holds heat.

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And don’t underestimate the power of layering. A lightweight thermal set underneath your clothes can make a huge difference when it comes to your body retaining heat.

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Create More Light

Mom and daughter smiling in a tent
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During the winter months, many people experience a decrease in their exposure to natural light due to shorter days and longer periods of darkness. This lack of light can lead to feelings of sadness, fatigue, and a lack of energy, often referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Getting enough light during the winter is important because light plays a crucial role in regulating our mood, sleep, and energy levels. Exposure to light helps to regulate the production of hormones such as serotonin, which is involved in mood, and melatonin, which helps to regulate sleep.

So how do the Scandivanians fight the winter blues? You guessed it: by going outside. Even on cloudy days, being outside in the natural light can help to boost your mood and energy levels. Make an effort to spend some time outside each day, even if it is just for a few minutes.

If you can’t be exposed to natural sunlight, like many Scandinavians during polar nights where the sun doesn’t come up at all, you can try light therapy at home. Light therapy involves sitting in front of a special light box or lamp that emits bright, full-spectrum light. This can help to reduce symptoms of SAD and improve mood and energy levels.

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Live the Sauna Life

Young woman sitting on wooden bench in sauna
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In Scandinavian countries like Finland, Sweden, and Norway, it is traditional to sit in a sauna and then cool off by plunging into a body of cold water. The contrast between the hot sauna and the cold water is believed to have a number of health benefits, including improved circulation, relief from muscle soreness, and reduced stress.

While you’ll want to check with your doctor before trying this out (especially if you have concerns about your blood pressure), it can be a great way to increase blood flow and get an adrenaline boost during the dreary days of winter.

Not everyone has access to a sauna and an ice bath at home, so you can try this method in your shower. Simply relax in a hot, steamy shower for several minutes before giving yourself a blast of cold water for as long as you can stand.

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Hang Out With Friends

Group of happy friends sitting on chairs and cooking marshmallows near the fire

Short days and long, dark nights can easily lead to feelings of loneliness. Socialization is a huge aspect of Scandinavian culture, and many towns offer a variety of community events during the winter to allow everyone to interact with each other regularly.

Even though it can be hard to get yourself to go anywhere when it’s cold outside, you’ll feel much better overall if you frequently spend time with friends and family. If you don’t live close to loved ones, try to text or talk on the phone regularly.

Enjoy Fika Every Day

Young woman spending a cold night in bed with blanket
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The concept of fika isn’t exclusive to winter, but it will definitely help you enjoy the season more. Fika is a Swedish term that refers to a daily ritual of taking a break to have a cup of coffee (or tea) and a small snack, usually a pastry or cookie.

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The concept of fika is more than just about the food and drink, though. It is also about taking time to relax and socialize with others, and it is an integral part of Swedish culture.

Whether you’re hanging out with a friend or enjoying it alone at home, try to set aside a short break every day to enjoy a hot drink and a snack. This will give you something to look forward to and make you a little happier in the process.

The winter season can be difficult for many people, but the Scandinavian culture has developed various traditions to embrace the colder months. From getting outside more to exposing yourself to plenty of light, incorporating these traditions into your own life can help you learn to embrace the winter season and actually enjoy it.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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