Enjoy the snow days like the Scandinavians do

East coasters, especially Mid-Atlantic east coasters, are watching the forecasts with lumps in their stomachs. Will March start with not just a roar, but a bitter, cold, heavy snow roar? After countless storms that have trapped us in our houses all winter, we’re itching for the spring. But we can do it. We know we can. Before crying in my pillow about being Frozen in the storm, I’m looking for some more ideas to have fun in the snow and asked my friend, website and magazine publisher, author and instagram-extraordinaire Katja Presnal of Skimbaco, how the Scandinavians enjoy their snow days. Reading her stories helps grow our appreciation and the youth-like feelings of the snow. Click through the beautiful issue of Skimbaco Magazine at the end of this post for more from Katja.

This guest post was written by Katja Presnal.



I look outside the window at my home office in Sweden and shake my head for the lack of snow. Don’t get me wrong, the ground is white, but the piles of beautiful snow are missing and the temperature isn’t even under 20F. We have winter, but it’s not magical yet. At the same time my Facebook and Instagram feeds are full of gorgeous winter wonderland pictures from my friends in New York. I am not the only one in Scandinavia, who has a serious case of snow-envy for those of you who live in the US – one of my Finnish friends posted on his Facebook page “Americans, send us back our winter, and you will get yours back” as the winter has been incredibly mild.

We have dealt with cold winters and snow since the Ice Age. In fact, my home country, Finland was largely shaped by the melting snow of the Ice Age, and the tens of thousands of lakes of Finland were formed by the ice ripping the ground. Now the same lakes freeze every winter and people race cars on the frozen lakes, or go snowmobiling or drill a hole and ice-fish. Cold and snowy winter days are part of the Nordic magic we love.


When I was a child, the streets had so much snow we cross-country skied to school, or better yet: used a kicksled and raced them down the streets. Part of the appeal to move from New York to Sweden was the hope that my children will get to experience the Scandinavian childhood. So far so good. There is a Swedish saying “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing” and there are no snow days at school, and the children even have to go outside for recess no matter what the weather. Well, I take it back, I think officially we have snow days and the schools are cancelled, I think the cut is around -30F these days, maybe recess gets cancelled at -20F.

Outdoor play is important part of Scandinavian school day anytime of the year, and it is recognized as part of better schooling. “Snow days” at school are some of the most anticipated days of the school year, even though it means bundling up in layers and layers of clothing, and most likely walking to school in the cold, like most children in Scandinavia do.

Snow days, at least here in Sweden, mean that teachers will take children out on the sledding hill, and children run up the hill and slide down again and again until their cheeks are red and legs feel like spaghetti after all the running in the snow. Last winter when I saw my 13-year-old daughter wearing snow pants to school so she could play in the snow during recess, I couldn’t help but smile. Kids grow too fast, and while in many ways even faster here in Scandinavia where they are expected to walk home alone since first grade, and it is safe to stay out late at nights, we parents love the snow and how it keeps our children as children a little bit longer.


Even if playing outside in the freezing weather isn’t your thing, I have a Scandinavian winter tradition for you that you might like. On March 4th when it’s Fat/Shrove Tuesday, instead of big parties, we celebrate the day in our Scandinavian way by playing outside in the snow. In fact Fat Tuesday in Finland is called “the sledding day.” Instead of the king cake, we eat these amazing sweet buns with whipped cream and almond paste inside that were traditionally only served on Fat Tuesdays. Nowadays they are available in almost every grocery store and bakery from late December until Easter, and eaten during the winter season. Get the recipe from my new magazine Skimbaco Lifestyle and enjoy the snow days of the season!

Guest post by Katja Presnal, editor-in-chief of Skimbaco Lifestyle, global lifestyle magazine. You can follow Katja’s photos from Scandinavia and around Europe on Instagram as Skimbaco.
mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel (jewelryverse.com) and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2014, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.


  1. says

    I often think we coddle our kids a bit much when it comes to outdoor recess. There have been times when I would have sent my kids outside if they were home, but knew they would be stuck inside during recess at school.

    Looking forward to reading your new magazine, Katja. I love magazines full of images.

    • says

      It’s also the fact that good snow gear and clothing IS expensive, and if children get cold, they get sick… In a way I get it why schools don’t force kids outside on bad weather, so many children would also suffer from the cold, especially in the areas where cold weather is not common, and kids might not have warm enough clothes to handle snow play. But yes, outdoor play is so important, and even here I wish my kids were more outside, and that’s why I like the snow, because that draws my kids in the yard!

  2. says

    I know that my daughter longed to go outside at recess and play on snow days and on an occasion or two, her teacher took outside the kids that were wearing their snowboots but only for a brief moment. She was elated that she got to go outside even if it was only briefly. My kids both love playing outside- cold or not- but on the cold days, the hot chocolate tastes even better!

  3. says

    I agree with you both, Barb and Jeanine. It breaks my heart that the kids are stuck inside from November through March. I blame it on cutbacks–when we were in school, we had recess aides, people who were paid to bundle up and oversee the kids as they played outside. Now it’s the teachers who lose planning time by agreeing to take the students outside. Or volunteer parents which are, where we live, going to be even harder to find next year with new volunteer regulations.

    As usual, it’s the kids who miss out. :(

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