Thyra Dane

Author of Romance. Blogs about Scandinavia, Vikings and books.

After 6-10 months of snow, sleet and rain, something strange makes Scandinavians stare at the sky. A big yellow ball not only brightens up the day (and night) – it sends heat to our cold corner of the world.

What is that weird ball in the sky?

What is that weird ball in the sky?

So what do we do when we’re no longer the place where the sun doesn’t shine?

1, We go outside

Scandinavians tend to be at our most creative when the sun shines and we really should be at work or school. We’ll work at home (= sit outside with the laptop and do absolutely nothing work-related), take long lunches (= sit outside with some food and try to chew as slowly as possible to avoid going back inside) and study for our exams at the local park (= fall asleep at the park while hoping we’ll somehow manage to remember everything we read in the cold winter months).

Everyone wants to be outside when the sun shines

Everyone wants to be outside when the sun shines

In July nobody works. Do not call a Scandinavian work place and expect people to actually help you out. They may have one person on duty but he or she can only tell you to call back in August. It’s summer – you expect us to work?!?

Some of us – actually 60-70% of us – are lucky enough to have a cabin in the family. We’ll go to that cabin every weekend when the weather is nice. Which results in the roads out of our cities looking like this on Friday afternoon:

Get in line to get to the cabin

Get in line to get to the cabin

It’s all about getting some fresh air.

2, We go naked

Okay, so we may not go naked eeeeeverywhere, but we do try to remove as many pieces of clothes as we can. We don’t even wait for the sun to shine to put on shorts and a T-shirt. When the calendar says May, we all agree that summer is here – no matter what Mother Nature throws at us, weatherwise.

When the sun comes, you’ll find grown-up Scandinavian men and women wearing just their shorts and sandals – and the occasional bra/bikini top if they’re so inclined. Your neighbor will walk down the street in his/her underwear because he/she forgot to buy milk and they need to get to the store before it closes.

Scandinavian man when the sun shines

Scandinavian man when the sun shines

It’s all about catching those precious sun rays on our winter pale skin.


3, We tan

With long winter nights and very little sun – not to mention the huge amounts of clothes we have to wear – you’ll find that many Scandinavians have this skin color most of the year:

Winter color

Winter color

Quite a few Scandinavians are gifted with darker skin tones from Mother Nature but even they get this grayish-beige layer during winter. Scandinavian climate will wreck havock with any skin color.

This is why we throw caution (and clothes) to the wind and lick up all the sun rays we can find. With this result:

Scandinavians and sun = a bad mix

Scandinavians and sun = a bad mix

And, unfortunately, this result:

Skin cancer in the EU (Norway is not mentioned since Norway is not a part of the EU)

Skin cancer in the EU (Sweden and Denmark on top. Norway is not mentioned since Norway is not a part of the EU)

If you live in Scandinavia and you choose not to broil your skin, you may very well end up getting a number of concerned comments about your health. Because pale people in the summer must be sick – there’s no other explanation.


4, We change personalities

You have probably heard about Scandinavians being broody and introvert. My question is: How would you feel if every breath you took was in minus 20 degrees C? You would probably cut back on the talking too.

But when the sun comes out we’re like flowers turning towards the heat and then we look around and notice how handsome and pretty everyone is (it’s not good for the eye sight to stare at the sun) – and we want to talk to all the pretty people.

The sun is shining and I'm so happy I completely forget I'm supposed to be broody and introvert

The sun is shining and I’m so happy. I completely forget I’m supposed to be broody and introvert

When the sun is shining you’ll see Scandinavians – hold onto your hats and glasses because this will come as a shock – who will talk to random strangers. Well, at least semi-random strangers like someone you may have seen a couple of times on the bus or someone you think might be the little brother of one of your buddies. Complete strangers are still a big no-no unless you’ve consumed at least six beers.

5, We drink beer

Our personality change may be related to our beer consumption in the summer. You could argue that Scandinavians drink beer all year round, and you would be correct. But the rituals surrounding drinking beer outside in the summer are so important that you’ll find Scandinavians huddled in warm blankets while drinking their first “outside beer” of the season. Drinking beer outside in the sun, not matter how cold it is, is our way of sticking out our tongue to Mother Nature and the climate she’s cursed us with.

It does not have to be hot for a Scandinavian to go outside and have a beer

It does not have to be hot for a Scandinavian to go outside and have a beer

6, We change our diet

The food we eat when we’re outside enjoying the sun, is completely different from the food we eat the rest of the year.

Rule number one is: You can not make any food in the kitchen. Which means that you can really only eat two things:

  1. Food from the barbecue – and preferably some small barbecue you brought with you to the local park and forget to bring home with you afterwards

    Scandinavians like our non-fancy grills - and our black-on-the-outside-raw-on-the-inside sausages

    Scandinavians like our non-fancy grills – and our black-on-the-outside-raw-on-the-inside sausages

  2. Shellfish. We eat tons of shrimp, lobsters and other kinds of shellfish that are hard to peel and therefore leave us hungry even after hours of hard work.
    Looks great but impossible to eat

    Looks great but impossible to eat


7, We go to IKEA

Yes, I know that I just wrote that Scandinavians will be outside as soon as the sun shines. You have to remember that when the sun shines, it shines all day and (almost) all night – which means that EVERYTHING in your dark little apartment is suddenly visible.

Nobody spends as much time (and probably money) on interior decorating as Scandinavians. Nine months a year we have to stay inside so it had better be nice there. But for some odd reason it’s in the summer vacation we find that we desperately need a brand new kitchen. So we’re off to IKEA.

Honey, I'm running off to IKEA to get a new kitchen!

Honey, I’m running off to IKEA to get a new kitchen!

Believe it or not, IKEA is the fourth most popular tourist attraction in Oslo. One might think it’s because there isn’t that much to see in Oslo but with the new opera and the new sculpture park on Ekeberg that’s just not true anymore. And it’s not the Japanese or American tourists that fill up IKEA in the summer – it’s people from elsewhere in Norway. Places where they are IKEA-deprived but still need that new kitchen.

There’s a running joke that IKEA needs to hire a marriage counselor and a midwife because IKEA is the place where marriages end and babies are born (not necessarily in that order). And it all happens in the summer.

8, We go to music festivals

“I’m too old to go to a music festival,” you might say, thinking that music festivals are for people under 25 only. That’s not the case here in Scandinavia. We have music festivals for all kinds of music – from classical to black metal and from country to jazz.

Small music festivals

Small music festivals

Large music festivals

Large music festivals


9, We go south

When the summer is finally warming up sun-deprived Scandinavians and summer-Scandinavia is postcard-beautiful Scandinavians go to Greece, Spain, Portugal or Italy. Or even further away.

From our vacation homes in Greece, Spain, Portugal or Italy we write bragging Facebook posts about the perfect weather even if we’re about to die from a heat stroke. And we find it incredibly hard to hide our glee when our Facebook feed from people back home looks like this:

The Facebook posts we hope to see from people back home when we're not back home

The Facebook posts we hope to see from people back home when we’re not back home

Actually, people back home should be considerate and ONLY post rainy pictures when their friends are abroad.

10, We complain

So, we’ve had sun for a week, maybe even two weeks, and Scandinavians have had it with this annoying heat. After having waited for the sun all winter, we find that … winter is actually our preferred time of the year. The number one word searched for in Norway this week was “snow”, believe it or not.

Some Scandinavians even go here in the Summer because they miss winter so much

Some Scandinavians even go here in the Summer because they miss winter so much

So we moan and complain over the heat, the drought and how terrible it is to never be able to go anywhere without sweating like a pig.

Scandinavians when it's more than 25 degrees Celsius

Scandinavians when it’s more than 25 degrees Celsius


One thing is sure, though. No matter how hot or cold or wet or dry the Scandinavian summer is ….

Winter is just around the corner

Winter is just around the corner

I'm not kidding

I’m not kidding

Winter will hit us any time now

Winter will hit us any time now

So am I!

So am I!

Have a nice summer!





13 thoughts on “Ten things Scandinavians do when the sun shines

  1. janofarc says:

    And this is why Scotland should be considered part of Scandinavia lol

    1. thyra10 says:

      You would have to vote “yes”, then 🙂
      (sorry, was that too soon?)

  2. gaijinvamp says:

    Exactly the opposite from life here in Arizona! This is the place where we wait for winter and perfect weather. Our summers are getting hotter and we’ve been in a drought for over 10 years. I think the average temperature is 110F.(50C) I try never to leave Phoenix in the winter. Why waste one glorious day of 75F(24C)? I’ve spent the last 15 years trying to find a cool place to spend the summer! Last year & this year we’re going to the Oregon Coast where the sea breeze(strong winds) keeps it under 80F(26.7C). We stay inside in the summer!

    Winter is when all the restaurants open their patios and people go to the Botanical Gardens or hike. Different towns have night time Art Walks. We’re ecstatic that “Winter is Coming!”
    Come visit and enjoy.

    1. thyra10 says:

      That’s great. I love these differences 🙂

  3. Annnnnnd this is why Minnesota and Wisconsin have so many Scandinavians! The weather and the reaction to the weather is very similar. : )

  4. Thyra. My wife and I are just back from our summer visit to Norway – this time staying at our son’s new place between Oslo and Bergen, up in the hills and pretty cold when the sun wasn’t actually shining on us. (I’ve just blogged about it – “Norwegian Wood”, if you’re interested.) It’s 60 acres of mainly forest, with a magnificent view but with accommodation that is best described as “basic Viking”!

    He works in Oslo, and intends to go to and from there in the train, rather than risk those traffic lines you show in the photo. For us, it wonderfully satisfying to be with our Norwegian grandchildren – who have to speak English when we’re around, poor kids!

    1. thyra10 says:

      That sounds like an amazing place – and an amazing trip. I’m sure your grandchildren learn a lot from you. It’s important to be fluent in English and your grandkids get it “for free” from you 🙂

  5. I am in South Florida and it is so hot and humid all the time. I love the snow and would gladly spend nine months in grey (barely) daylight shoveling snow then melt in 100F (38C) heat while sitting still in the shade.

    1. thyra10 says:

      After three weeks in Japan with high temperatures and high humidity I tend to agree with you. Except that this summer wasn’t even a summer here in Scandinavia. I came back to complaints about how there was only one day with temperatures over 20 degrees – and that’s a bit too cold….

  6. Jackiedm69 says:

    Yeah I really understand you …
    I was born and raised in Canada but since 1995 I’ve been living in Italy ( my husband is Italian) well I’m not complaining about the awesome Italian weather especially where I live near the sea and winters here are quite mild, but sometimes I miss the cold and SNOW. Yeah I miss the wonderful Canadian wintry!
    My hubby thinks I’m so crazy I am trying to convince my hubby to move back to Canada.
    I prefer the Canadian lifestyle to the Italian one
    Italy is great for vacations believe me.

    1. Jackiedm69 says:

      Oops my smartphone posted my comment without my consent!
      As I was saying Italy is ONLY nice for vacation not the day to day life…
      You must live here to realise that this country has so many flaws, you can’t live only because there is always the sun and the food is great but when you need social services here everything is fucked up….

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