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 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 canceled. I think the cut is around -30F these days. Maybe recess gets canceled at -20F.
Outdoor play is an important part of the Scandinavian school day, any time 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 their 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 night, 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!