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Winter in Scandinavia

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Scandinavia, or more properly the Nordic countries, include Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. As these countries are near the Arctic, they attract travellers who want to experience winter activities.

The northern half of Scandinavia, with the exception of coastal Norway, is a safe bet for snow from December well into April. In Stockholm, Oslo and south thereof, slush is more common than snow throughout December.

Daylight is very short in winter. At 60 degrees north (around Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki) the sun is up for 6 hours a day at the Winter Solstice in late December. At the Arctic Circle it is below the horizon for several days.

Christmas

Christmas, called jul in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, jól in Icelandic, and joulu in Finnish, is the biggest holiday of the year.

Be aware that the main Christmas holiday is Christmas Eve, Danish juleaften, Norwegian julaften, Swedish julafton, December 24 as families gather.

December 25th is not as burdened by tradition as in Anglo-Saxon countries. The Church of Sweden holds a julotta, a nativity mass in the morning, with high attendance in an otherwise secular country.

December 26th is an official holiday, the day for many sport events.

As in other Western countries, there are big sales on the days past Christmas.

Do

See Nordic skiing and alpine skiing.

In the northern resorts, the winter sports season keeps on well into May. With warmer air, longer daylight and piles of snow, the end season might be more gratifying than December or January.

Buy

Many Scandinavian towns have Christmas fairs.

Eat

Christmas food is the most traditional part of Scandinavian cuisine.

Stay safe

See travelling in cold weather.

Scandinavians are heavy holiday drinkers. Stay out of drunken brawls.

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