This year I embarked on a journey to learn about different cultures of the world, read the whole story here. I chose countries basis certain criteria like health, happiness, history & my personal favorites. The first country or the set of countries was Nordic countries. The first question on my mind was ‘how do they survive harsh winters?’. This article is about what I learned. I hope you enjoy it.

Nordic Countries have been in the hall of fame for years. Due to their admirable performance in the world Happiness report. While Finland wears the crown (again) for the happiest country in 2021. The rest of the Nordic countries are in the top 10. One would think how can a country which experiences harsh winters be happiest in the world.

To clear any confusion, the World Happiness Report states –

Average weather is something people adapt to and thus typically doesn’t much affect the life satisfaction of those used to given weather. Now that this is clear, let me answer what countries fall under Nordic Countries.

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Which Are The Nordic Countries

Also known as Norden which literally translates to North consists of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Finland. They also consist of autonomous territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland, and the autonomous region of Åland. For this article, we will focus on the 5 major fingers of Norden – Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Sweden and of their people a.k.a the Norbdo’s.

What Is The Difference Between Scandinavian And Nordic

Although these countries fall under the Nordic umbrella, I bet you have mostly heard of Scandinavia. For clarification, Scandinavia refers to people from Denmark, Sweden & Norway. Whereas Nordic is Scandinavia & Finland, Iceland.

But How Really Is Winter In Scandinavian Countries & Nordic Countries

I have always wanted to visit these countries and see the northern lights. But one thing that always stopped me was the weather. Everyone I turned to was afraid of visiting this cold land.

Like any big country, the Nordic countries all vary a bit in their weather. Some see a mild winter where some experience little to no sunlight in colder months. It’s safe to say that all Nordic countries including Scandinavian countries are famous for their harsh winters.

You will find these interesting –

Norway is famous for being one of the coldest countries in Europe. According to Norway Today, during winter, in the north of the arctic circle, the sun does not come up, which means this region, including Norway, gets little or no sunlight or warmth.

Yet not only are they famous for being the happiest people in the world, but they are also badass for surviving the harsh and long winters. As a matter of fact, I would say,  Norbdo people are celebrated for handling the winter months with a lot of zeal.

How To Stay Active In The Wintertime Like The Nordics Including Scandinavians Do

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Have Love Of Outdoors

Scandinavians & Nordics love their friluftsliv which means outdoor life, be it any weather. There are several activities that people from this part of the world love to enjoy. This is evident in the number of Ski resorts, hiking groups & many other sports which are active all over the winter.

Skiing is a national sport of Norway but from what I can see, most people love to indulge in this. They also take advantage of a lot of activities on snow like reindeer sleigh, dog sled & snowmobiling through forests. And if they don’t have access to these sports then they indulge in hiking throughout the year.

“It’s better to go skiing and think of God than go to church and think of sport”

Fridtjof Nansen
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Take Part In Physical Fitness Be It Indoors

Covid has taught us how to stay active in the comfort of our living room with youtube workout videos. People in Nordic countries also love to indulge in fitness workouts. Those who have access to fitness centers, love to take advantage of many indoor sports. Physical fitness is only not about staying fit but there is a certain love for being active.

And most homes have their own sauna chambers. From what I have gathered, I think the sauna is almost like a national sport in most Nordic countries.

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It All Starts From Childhood

Per my talk with Finnish Podcaster, Susanna who also runs the blog of the same name ‘The Nordic Mum’, Kids learn to love the outdoors from a small age. The schools in Finland emphasize physical activities for kids, no matter the weather. The same is the consensus of parents who bundle up their kids and let them go out and play in any weather. While she mentioned that Finnish parents emphasize letting the kids be and not over guard or over instructing them. But there are just a few exceptions. One for the winters being ‘don’t eat the yellow snow.

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Wear The Right Clothes

I am sure you have already heard of the famous saying by people from this wise region – “THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS BAD WEATHER, ONLY BAD CLOTHES”.

Personal story – I moved to New York City from India and this was my first winter here. I was terrified to see the temperature fall below 5 degrees celsius. Thankfully, I heard this Nordic advice, and this made me resilient. I am happy to report that I loved my first New York Winter.  A couple of layers and I have been out and about in winter storms, hiked ice trails, all with a big smile and a hot cup of coffee.

Taking a rest during our Catskill Hike

The advice goes like this – wear winter-approved clothes like a thermal base layer, wool, thick socks, gloves, winter wool caps and you will be good to go like Nordens.

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Wear The Right Attitude

One would assume that going out to ski when you feel cold for months on end will be difficult. I am sure it is very difficult.

You would need to summon a lot of courage. It is definitely not fun to wake up and see a cloudy dim sun again, for the 7th day in a row. But if you decide to stay indoors for one more day then you know it will impact your mood. Finnish people even have a word for situations like this – SISU. Which means to show grit, courage, bravery in moments you want to give up.

One Youtube channel that I have fallen in love with is Jonna Jinton. She lives in North Sweden and often shares videos from her freezing home in winters. Seeing her videos of cutting the ice on a lake for a dip makes me freeze in my chair in New York. The first video that I ever saw of her was ‘How Nordic People Do Laundry’. I won’t say anything about it as you have to watch it.

I say, to learn from Nordic people and stay active during winters, you have to wear this attitude of loving the outdoors before you wear your base layer of clothes.

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Enjoy the Winter Home Life-

What is a better time to enjoy Hygge than in the Winter months? Burn candles, enhance your baking skills, make yourself a hyggekrog in your house (Cozy Nook) and sit there with a blanket, a cup of hot drink, and your favorite book.

In summary, I have learned that people in Nordic countries brave the winters from an early age. They are not told by parents and teachers to stay inside because it’s freezing. They learn that all weather is good and a part of life. Winters are not an excuse for not staying active. One only needs to acclimate themselves to the cold and what is the perfect way to do that than to experience it as the Nordics do.

Stay active and then you can enjoy the ice creams all year round like Icelanders.



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