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Jämtland in winter
Jämtland en hiver
Photo credit: Christopher Hunt

Nordic light

Winter in Sweden means short days and icy temperatures. But winter as we know it is far from just hibernation – it is a time when we take advantage of our unique geographical circumstances.

The Nordic Museum in Stockholm explores what it means to live in a part of the world that has limited daylight during winter, and almost endless daylight during summer.

“Nordic light is unique; only a few percent of the Earth’s population live in these kind of light conditions. Little more than 100 years ago, darkness after sunset with no moon was a reality for most people – light was special,” the museum states. 

The cold climate, the rare sunlight, barren soil and clean water that dates back to the Ice Age, have formed our tastes, and our ways, says Sprillo trend analyst Christina Cheng. “Nowhere else have people lived and harvested as far North as in Sweden. The climate has led to our special conservation techniques and put a mark on our flavours.” 

We have learnt to celebrate the rare ray of sunshine and make the most out of nature. “The grim conditions have made us a curious people,” says Cheng. “We have never longed for the past – but rather learnt to embrace change and to constantly strive for improvement.” 

Regardless of the dark and cold season it is evident that Swedes blossom during winter – everything is shaped by these conditions; the flavours of our food, the creativity and the way we make a living. 

According to Thorbjörn Laike, a professor in environmental psychology at Lund University, Swedes have adapted to make the most out of the available light during winter by spending time outdoors, be it through skiing, ice skating or just going for a walk in the forest.

“At first it might be hard for others to understand our unique relationship to nature, we spend a lot of time outside all year round. This, I believe, is what separates us and form our identity.”