Simona D'Auria

Embracing the Nordic winter… That’s the best way to endure it!

How to embrace the Nordic winter having a good time and learning something from it...
Snowstorm in the forest
Never ending snow storms are here already

Hello to you all!

With this post I’d like to share some thoughts about how I’ve learnt  to cope with the cold, dark, Nordic winter.

It’s not being so long since my last blog with its autumn images, and yet here in Sweden, as in many other places I guess, winter is already well under way, much sooner and colder than it is usually expected. The temperatures have plunged dramatically all at once, reaching also freezing -17 degrees C, at least where I live, in the center of the country. Such an icy December is definitely atypical, and yet here we are … 😏

It has definitely taken most of us by surprise, so we have all been very busy catching up and preparing for winter, which mainly means keeping you, the animals, your house and you car as warm as possible.

The Christmas holidays are almost here, so I thought of talking a little about winter in Scandinavia, how we live it, what you are presented with should you come and visit, how to endure and enjoy it!

Winters in the North are long, cold and very, very dark. The days are already very short – at the time of this post the sun rises after 9 and sets at 14 – and they are going to get shorter and shorter until the winter solstice (on the 21/12). By that time, we’ll be able to enjoy just a couple of hours of light a day.

If you are not used to it, it can be physically and mentally challenging, your resilience will definitely be tested, and you might feel a little under the weather … It will take some time to start to get accustomed to it, although, of course, it can remain something that just does not suit you!

Light are going down in the snowy village among the forest
12:00 Lights are going down in the village

I enjoy darkness a lot. It has a relaxing effect on me, keeps me focused and stimulates my imagination, making it good under a personal and a professional point of view.

One thing I remember though, of my first winter here … I was suffering with a continuous feeling of being in a hurry and not being able to do all the things I needed to do on time! Then, I learnt that when darkness comes the day continues anyway, and that the fact that is dark outside generally does not prevent you from doing the things that you usually do. It is just a matter of changing your times and routines and adjusting. Exactly how it happens when summer comes and the days are extremely long instead, leaving you just with a couple of hours of darkness a day! Scandinavia is definitely a land of extremes!

Anyway, there are many ways of compensating for the lack of light and to cope with the long, cold Nordic winter, and Scandinavian people have mastered them!

Rule number one

The first one of course, is to take advantage of the morning and of any available light. Your body needs it. That means first of all set your alarm clock early even if it’s still dark when you wake up. You’ll learn how precious any minute of the morning is and how many things you can sort out in the first hours of the day. If you are here as a tourist, a hiker or a photographer, plan early excursions in order to get the most from the short days.

Rule number two

Second, but not less important… Get outside! It’s definitely less cold than you might think when you are inside, and you need to make your blood circulating in your body in order to stay warm. Also, your mood will benefit a lot from being outside. Being home lethargic and bored won’t help you enduring a winter day, quite the opposite. There are a lot activities for every taste here, all kind of winter sports, hiking and sightseeing, visiting the beautiful Swedish cities that are now dressed up for Christmas… What’s the point of a holiday if you staying inside? There is nothing, nothing, more enchanting than Sweden in winter!

Rule number three

Put on warm, comfortable and most of all appropriate clothes depending on your activity outside. Dress in layers, starting with warm outdoors underwear. Don’t get stuck in clothes that are too warm and that you can’t take off. Sweating when it’s freezing is highly forbidden as it will only bring you more cold. I mean it! It might be really dangerous!

There’s a way of saying in Sweden that reads: “Det finns inget daligt väder, bara daliga kläder” meaning “There is no bad weather only bad clothes”! If you are born here, this is what you are told a thousand times! Parents tends to encourage the children to get outside and enjoy outdoors activities with their friends. It’s part of teaching them the right mindset to cope with the long winters.

Rule number four

Make it special at home. In Scandinavia it is known as Hygge vibes (from our Danish friends), meaning cozy, comfortable, enjoyable, anything that gives you a sense of well- being! Light candles, Christmas stars, fairy lights, you name it! They will cheer you up with a magical atmosphere and they actually help taking your rooms warm! Bake Kanelbullar (Swedish cinammon rolles) Pepparkakor (Swedish crispy biscuits with ginger 😋), prepare some spicy herbal tea or a mulled wine (it’s called Glögg here in Sweden). Cook a warm meal, have some comfort food! Take it easy, contemplate, relax …

It gets even better once you are back from a walk outside … you know … that moment when you take off your winter boots and put on your warm slippers … 🥰🥰🥰

Beautiful ice texture on the surface of a frozen lake
Sunset over Ljusnaren

In short … Embrace winter, do not fight it! Live it with a positive, active mind. Explore and enjoy its magical features and its opportunities of enjoyment. That’s the secret to endure it!

Every season has its purpose and its beauty.

The purpose of winter is for all living creatures to rest, withdraw, store energies, recharge … So, take it easy, take it slow, enjoy every minute of it!

Have a walk, explore! The beauty of winter lies precisely in its coldness … You’ll find yourself among the most amazing, suggestive landscapes!
Let your imagination fly. When the temperatures plunges well below zero, the lakes freeze and the forests whiten, the icy stillness brings you in the magical atmosphere of old Nordic sagas.
Listen. To the winds, the howl of the wolves, the call of the crows, the enchanting sound of the ice, the whispers of the creatures of the winter lands.

Learn. When things get tough, when you are uncomfortable, when nature strikes hard, that’s precisely when you learn something about yourself.

When it’s freezing so much outside that your heating system starts having problems, and you feel cold, very cold… When you are driving and your car stops just in the middle of a snow storm, when you are hiking and you get lots among meters of snows … When you are prey to the wilderness …

That’s when you learn to appreciate the importance of many things that you have too easily taken for granted. A roof on your head, a warm jacket, warm food, that time that your father taught you to use a compass, that pair of extra gloves that you have put in your backpack …

That’s when you remember that nature is stronger than us and when you learn to endure. To fight. To face your fears. To improve yourself.

That’s when you return a little wild, when you remember how to make use of your ancestral instincts and your surviving skills.

That’s when your real you will show! How are you doing?

If you follow this simple rules, I’m sure you will not only be able to endure the winter here, you’ll also have a lot fun! Winter in the cold North is simply magical, the most bewitching season of the year. An

experience to live at least once in your life.

I promise you won’t regret it!

Ops! It’s snowing outside … I have to go!

I’ll be back soon with a winter hiking story, some amazing landscapes …. and – hopefully – with some news! 😮😊

Till next time …

Enjoy your winter time wherever you are and take good care of you!

Love, 🤍🧊🤍


Photographer Simona D'Auria

Simona D'Auria

Hi! My name is Simona and I am a photographer and an illustrator in love with the natural world.

I live in Sweden in a small village on the forest hills, where I moved a few years ago leaving behind the busy city of London to pursue my artistic activity. ​This has been a long time dream that I eventually managed to fulfil. I have never regretted it!​​

Nature is my only place to be, hiking my way to explore it and photography is one of the means I use to record the fantastic stories I am so lucky to witness during my excursions. Many of these stories also turn into graphics or illustrations.