Winter is coming

A significant difference between the Scandinavian countries

14 JANUARY 2017,
Winter night
Winter night

In Scandinavia, the winters can be hard with extreme frost or severe winds accompanied by flying snow. Although all the Nordic countries share the dark and cold of Jack Frost there is still a significant difference between the winters in those countries. It may come as a surprise, but the winters in Iceland are windy, yet often mild and the cold not nearly as piercing as in Oslo, Norway. There can be quite some snow in the northern parts but the southern coastline and vicinity of the capital, Reykjavík, has not seen an abundance of snow over the last years.

In Oslo, it’s the same story except due to the immense cold the snow stays longer on the ground. Although the temperature can be fluctuating quite a bit in both places, the capital of Norway seems to remain below freezing point over the coldest period. In southern Iceland, however, it jumps between below and over freezing point so the snow becomes watery quickly and eventually mostly disappears. A pair of rubber boots with thick socks is therefore often more useful in Reykjavík whereas good winter shoes are what you’re looking for in Oslo.

There is a certain charm to winter and it’s not only because it signals that Christmas is coming and the dark nights are lit up by colorful decorations. I have never seen such clear skies as I see during winter in the northern countries, it is the most beautiful hue of light blue and if feels as if you can see all the way to the edge of the earth. There are also the Northern lights that are an extraordinary display of dancing colors in the sky and are often seen during the winter in Iceland and northern parts of Norway.

Winter also comes with new sporting possibilities; cross-country skiing is very popular in Norway and a healthy and good activity, ice-skating can be practiced on ponds and frozen lakes, snowboarding, ski jumping, sled riding, all of those wonderful outdoors activities become an option with the first snow. Children generally love snow and their little feet run outside quickly at the hint of the first snowflake and the well wrapped bundles collapse cheerily into the white foam, build a snowman or create lovely snow angels.

Appreciating each season with it’s distinctive joyous events, weather and mood can at times be challenging, especially when you’re living in the North. Even though we often wish it was warmer during the cold seasons or colder during the warm ones we Scandinavians still cherish all the variations within the year and can hardly imagine life without it. Even when we’re shivering while waiting for the bus in the coldest of days or feeling the wrath of endless wind on our faces, we still know deep down that when it all boils down to it, we wouldn’t want it any other way.