The beautiful thing about the Swedish winter is that exciting romantic feel of the darkness. And the way Sweden fights back. With lights throughout town. With candles in every window. So even though the darkness is coming, as it inevitably does every winter, Sweden won’t let you forget how important the light is.
Survival during the Swedish winter isn’t as hard as you might think. Aside from the inevitable bout of insomnia as the darkness envelops the country. Aside from the lack of sunlight leaving you pale. Aside
from waking up to darkness and going to sleep to darkness.
But these are all easy problems to solve. Get outside. When that sun is shining during the middle of the day, just go outside. Take a walk at lunch. Go skiing or ice skating at the weekend. Soak it all up.
And when all else fails? Go to Spain.
This will be my real first winter as I arrived in Sweden only last January. To tell you the truth, I am looking forward to it. Despite coming from the tropics, I love snow and winter sports but I am a little afraid of the darkness.
I intend to drink a lot of wine by the fire, cook romantic meals and go for long runs when there is sunshine.
Before living here, I had always liked those little lamps by the window that exist in every Swedish home, but I thought they were just a quaint detail. After spending some dark days in Stockholm, I now understand them as a need for light, to keep the winter and the darkness out. I have bought one for every window in our place!
As a trump card, I hold on to an open ticket to Rio, for emergencies like the sun disappearing for three weeks!
There’s no such thing as a miracle solution to survive the Swedish winter. To fight the cold, I observe how Swedes dress and copy them, especially with very good underwear.
But for me that’s not really the most difficult part of the Swedish winter. The worst is the darkness. I try to have outdoor activities during the daytime at weekends to enjoy what little light I can get.
And then, I try to make the best of the long evenings, meaning game nights, movie nights, dinners, social gatherings – everything that can make the long nights feel less lonely.
And very important: plan a ski trip at least once in the winter to recharge the batteries.
If I lived in the north of Sweden, I would say to enjoy the snow and the light it brings, to ski and do other refreshing winter sports and get really fit while you are at it – but I happen to live in the south.
The darkness here does not get displaced by any beautiful, white snow, and if we get any snow at all, it will turn into slush before it even reaches the ground.
My survival tip here is to go to the coldwater bathing houses. There is a particularly nice one in Bjärred, one in Sibbarp, and Ribersborgs Kallbadhus is a classic one. They are built on wooden poles out in the water and have lovely views from the sauna, overlooking the Öresund. And then you simply jump into the sea. This is really nice and relaxing. Even if no foreigner seems to believe it.
Hope for snow. Lots of snow. After seeing a few winters here, I can promise you the ones you remember positively are the ones with lots of snow.
It doesn’t change the length of the day during the long winter, but the way the available light reflects around makes it a lot less dreary. You will actually have to call the kids in from the garden, rather than having to push them out the door.
And obviously, there are so many more fun outdoor activities you can do with snow rather than rain.
In the event the snow doesn’t come, work. Work as much as you can, because you are not missing anything anyways.
Save some overtime and add an extra week’s vacation on in the summer, or be smart and declare that you are suffering Seasonal Affective Disorder and grab a last-minute jet to somewhere warm and cash in the extra work saved.
Catch up on your reading. And it helps to know the open hours for your local System outlet, as it is a great time to enjoy a tasty, warm cocktail or a nice red wine with your mates.
Though I’ve yet to shiver through a Swedish winter, I’m no stranger to cold, dark days. When I moved to Northeast Pennsylvania from Southern Virginia, I thought I could still wear open-toed shoes in December. I quickly learned boots were a necessity as the snow was piled higher than my dog is tall.
When I move to Linköping (in less than 60 days), I look forward to a little less snow and a little less cold. Even so, the warm fuzzy socks will take precedence in packing.
I look forward to soaking up the sunlight on long walks with my dog during the few daylight hours, and I will plan as many outdoor outings with my fiance as I’m able.
After two and a half years on different continents, I look forward to my fiance keeping me warm when the fuzzy socks aren’t quite enough.
I’ll laugh a lot, love a lot, and I’ll think of the tropics. It’s just winter, after all. We’ve all been through it before.
The problem with Gothenburg is that there’s a real chill here. Strong winds blow around the clock and you need really warm clothes. Sometimes, it can be very tricky in Gothenburg. You can assume it’s not that cold but if you go out with the wrong clothes you can feel the wind blowing through your bones.
So it is extremely important to put on a warm jacket, use a headscarf or a cap, cover hands with gloves and cover up as much as possible even if you don’t feel it too cold. Rule no. 1 for me is: “Don’t try to become Tarzan.”
Northern Sweden is generally covered with snow all the time and can be nice place for skiing and having winter vacations.
The other major problem with Swedish winter is the fact that the days are really short. Generally one goes to the office in the dark and comes back in the dark. It is a fact one has to mentally accept in order to avoid depression. It is always advised to keep the same routines like after work, going to gym or playing some indoor sport even its dark outside.
In the south, you need rain gear and warm clothes.