Everybody has their own ideas to what Nordic culture really is, images of Vikings, Swedish pop bands and furniture superstores come to mind when the region is mentioned. But what is the real truth about the people and the culture of the Nordic region.

For a region effected so much by its geographical position to understand the diverse cultures of this historical region you really have to overcome the stereotypes that many people have of the Norsemen. In this blog we take an in-depth look at what makes Nordic people tick.

The Best Food in the World

Denmark has the number one restaurant in the world, Noma in Copenhagen has deservedly held great respect from food magazines, writers and gourmet chefs since it won the World’s Best Restaurant in 2014. All of a sudden, a culinary wasteland such as Scandinavia was firmly put on the foodie map and the world fell in love with pickled herrings, rye-bread and Danish pastries. The location of much of Scandinavia makes it pretty hard to grow anything edible, so the Nordic people have had to adapt their cuisine to adopt what is edible. So, foods gathered during the Spring and Summer months are preserved for consuming later in the year when it is impossible to get fresh food.


The Nordic countries are rather unique as the gap between rich and poor is the smallest in the world, these group of countries are also the most advanced in social aspects too, such as gender equality and welfare provision. The Nordics on the whole have a very good quality of life, they pay high taxes, but they get all the benefits from doing so as the welfare state is well regulated.

The history of the region has not always been a bed of roses, it has been littered with colonization and for one example look at Greenland who only just attained self-rule in 2009 from Denmark. In the 1950’s there were stories of children being forced from their families in Greenland to live in Denmark. In the main the Nordic region has a reputation for being one of the happiest places to live in the world, there are some exceptions as one would expect, but in the main there is little poverty or homelessness and unemployment is virtually unheard of.

Family First

Any discussion of a nation’s culture will eventually turn to family life, and the Nordic region revels in the family unit. To elevate this further out of the home unit it spreads into society with Nordics enjoying one of the best examples of work-life balance of any of the European countries. It has unparalleled paternity and maternity leave and highly enviable equality of the sexes.

If you look at Finland for example each and every new baby gets its own government care package, and the state supports its citizens from cradle to grave. All of this helps to promote the family unit as the preferred way to live in Nordic society and binds families together strongly. In part two of this blog we look at other facets of Nordic culture that make this region of the world highly enviable.