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For many people winter is the hardest season of the year to cope with. The lack of sunlight, an end to many outdoor activities, and roads closed by snow or ice are all factors that contribute towards people feeling blue during the coldest months of the year. But, in the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden a lot of people actually look forward to the cold weather. And, they don’t suffer the same rates of winter depression that residents of other areas do, despite the heavy snowfall and lack of light. Here are a few things that Scandinavians do to keep winter fun.

the Northern Lights at Tromsø, Norway
Via/ Unsplash

Friluftsliv

This concept refers to being outdoors as much as possible in all kinds of weather. This mindset means that Scandies don’t automatically become indoor people when it’s gets cold. Being outside has been shown to have a positive effect on people’s health, so this correlation definitely makes sense. To practice friluftsliv is to never stop your daily walks just because it’s cold and to go outside even when it’s raining. In this way people learn to embrace the cold weather rather than to shy away from it.

person walking in the snow in Norway
Via/ Unsplash

Fredagsmys/Fredagskos

These terms are used for cozy Fridays, which in many parts of Scandinavia means taco night. The event is shared among friends and family and usually also has licorice, games, and/or TV. This isn’t restricted to winter time, but having a fun indoor ritual like this to celebrate the week has got to be a mood booster during the darkest time of the year.

taco fixins
Via/ Flickr

Hygge

This concept has been touted all over the internet, but there’s a good reason for it. Hygge means to make yourself warm and cozy inside (in Norway the term koselig is used). This means lighting a fire, making spiced hot cider or hot chocolate, and cuddling up with a good book or some good conversation. Even if you have a healthy sense of friluftsliv, you can’t stay outside all winter. And, what better way to pass the hours of a long winter night than in front of the fire?

person relaxing in front of a fire
Via/ Unsplash

Researchers in Norway came up with the “Wintertime Mindset Scale” which measures how excited people feel about an upcoming winter season. They found that people with more positive associations with winter were happier, despite the lack of sunlight in the Northern countries. This is in stark contrast to the U.S. where Seasonal Affective Disorder is prevalent and many people feel they have to endure winter rather than embrace it.

happy woman in the snow
Via/ Unsplash

Perhaps if we had more taco nights, hygge sessions, and a love of being outdoors in the winter weather we could enjoy winter as much as the Scandinavians do.