Nordic Culture – Part 2

A recent survey in 2015 on world happiness voted Switzerland as number one, this was quite a surprise as a Nordic country prior to this for many years was always holding top position. But in 2016 the Danes regained their crown and once again a Nordic country was top of the pile. In fact, the table showed that the Norwegians were second and no Nordic country came out of the top ten happiest nations in the world. The question that arises for all this data is why? Why are the Nordic nations so happy?

There has been increased interest in this report as according to the United Nations it is a primary indicator of the level and quality of human development as a whole. Many governments around the world use happiness data to work out policies that will support better lives. On a more trivial slant to all this, if we look at the more bizarre traditions in the Nordic nations it may help to explain why they are so happy. As you can see there is definitely a large sense of humor in Scandinavia and some of it dates back thousands of years.

Wife Carrying

Hailing from Finland there is quite a bizarre competition that is now popular right across the Nordic countries. Some say it dates back to Viking days, and the wife carrying competition certainly looks as if it does. Basically, it is a race where people carry wives over their shoulders around a course.

In age old Nordic custom, the victor is rewarded with beer equivalent to the weight of their wife, and a huge boozy celebration ensues. It is said that some husbands swap their wives for ladies that are slightly heavier, hoping to get extra beer!

Dining & Socializing

Nordics are extremely hospitable and regularly invite friends, family and even strangers around to their home to share food. Although not compulsory it expected that the guest takes a gift to reciprocate the generous offer of dinner. During the meal it is customary that the guest joins in with every toast, and in a great many Nordic households these can be many. If you are toasted for whatever reason by the host it is also customary to reply to the toast with one of your own.

Nordics are also great conversationalists, and love talking almost about any subject, they are gregarious by nature and love to hear conversations about subjects they know little of. The guest will be warmly welcomed if they too contribute.

St. Knut’s Day

If you happen to be in Scandinavia on January 13th, there is a big celebration to mark that Christmas has passed and is over. St. Knut’s Day is a celebration where the Christmas tree is thrown (taken down), and any candies or sweets that adorned the tree are eaten.

For some unknown reason after the party the party goers take to their sledges and sleighs and race around the local community in rather a frantic manner. Some of these traditions are rather baffling, but they all contribute to the culture of the region and are an excuse to celebrate and for people to get together.