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The Swedish winter is cold but there is no such thing as bad weather. Or is there?

Updated on January 15, 2016

There is a proverb that annoys me!

The brisk and spirited proverb by John Ruskin; “There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of weather”, has in Sweden been transformed to: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”, (in Swedish the proverb rhymes). This is a proverb that I have heard since I was a child, and the opinions which we grow up with become in some way the truth. But the last few weeks this proverb has begun to annoy me! I think that there is indeed such a thing as bad weather, at least in Sweden during wintertime!

It is beautiful but cold!
It is beautiful but cold! | Source
Now the winter begins!
Now the winter begins! | Source
Ice and snow!
Ice and snow! | Source

How are you supposed to be dressed when temperature has dropped to minus 20 degrees Celsius, in strong wind, and still be able to move! I haven’t found that ultimate dress yet! Or is it that we now days pay more attention to our appearance than to be dressed properly for cold weather!

Where I live in Scandinavia we have four seasons, and the other three; spring, summer and autumn all have their advantages. But what about winter! I can’t see anything positive about this season. The weather is either rainy, with grey or cloudy weather or cold with strong wind and with the cold come snow and slipperiness. Everything becomes more difficult. To get the car started in those cold morning takes a bit of work, first you have to dig out the car which is covered with snow and shoveling the path in order to be able to leave the property at all. Secondly you must start the car and let it be a bit warm inside before getting in to it. What a dreadful way to start the morning!

Some days I drive to work without knowing if I will survive; the snow is pouring down and the roads are covered with ice. And as if that was not enough, during some periods it can be even colder with temperatures down to minus 25 to minus 30 degrees Celsius. I live on the Swedish west coast and because of the closeness to the ocean the air is humid, even when it’s cold, leaving a damp and cold weather.

The location of Sweden!

A markerSweden -
get directions

You dont see many of those these days!
You dont see many of those these days! | Source
It seems to be some time left until the spring! A long way to spring!
It seems to be some time left until the spring! A long way to spring! | Source

To re-learn how to dress for cold weather!

Personally I prefer the rainy weather. To dress in order to get protection against rain is quite easy. You simply use warm clothes and an umbrella or a raincoat.

But the cold! The cold air eats its way trough your clothes no matter what!

Maybe we have lost some knowledge during the years? As I remember my childhood it was always a lot of snow during winter time. We used kick-sleds to the local grocery store and the roads were always snowy. But I can’t remember being so terrible cold! We where always outside, went skating, snowball fights etc.

During most of my adult years, the weather during winter has mostly been rainy with just a few cold days. So maybe I have lost the skill in how to dress properly for cold weather.

When I choose clothes in the morning, my first thought isn’t; how should I dress without freezing to death? Instead I am use to choose the clothes that I want to wear during that day, clothes that fits my mood of mind and clothes that are comfortable. And since I am used to dress that way the result is that I’m horrendous cold that whole day. The jeans feel almost frozen on to the legs and the face ache from the frost and the cold winds. I have abandoned the car for now and instead go by bus. When I walk to the bus in the morning I feel almost anger over the fact that the weather can get so cold! I regularly meet a very friendly woman from the Philippines at the bus stop in the morning. During this cold season I can´t understand why someone from the Philippines should choose to live here, but she lives in Sweden because of the common cause; love. Every morning she says; Ugh so cold, and all this snow. I wonder what she really think about this place on earth in the winter, for her winter must seem even more terrible than for me.

Usually, I love being outside and I regularly take long walks, but now it is completely impossible. Now the main goal is to get inside as quickly as possible! But as the cold weather continues, week after week, my way of thinking have gradually changed there in my closet in the mornings. Now I am primarily thinking on how to get dressed so that I don’t freeze! Isn’t that fantastic? You might think that it should be common knowledge, and it is! But somehow I have been used to not have to think that way! Of course I have more warm clothes during winter than in the summer but that isn’t enough now. Now it is layers upon layers that apply! It takes some time to put all clothes on and when walking down the street, I look like a fat shapeless figure, with two layers of pants, tree layers of sweaters and a coat that covers most of the body, warm boats, a scarf, gloves and hat. And on top, I pull the hood over my head! So, now I don’t freeze, but how do I look? But then again, we all look the same in the morning darkness; shapeless figures that walk quickly with the head bent against the wind. Some say that the Swedes are stiff and boring and that we don’t show our feelings as much! Is it any wonder with such a climate?

Later at work, the task to strip off all the extra layers remains.

Knitted socks with wool will keep your feet warm!
Knitted socks with wool will keep your feet warm! | Source
This is a photo from my visit to Umea, a city in  northen Sweden! Here they know what winter is all about! The driving way is on the other side of the mountain of snow!
This is a photo from my visit to Umea, a city in northen Sweden! Here they know what winter is all about! The driving way is on the other side of the mountain of snow! | Source

A funny thing that has happened over the last few years due to the cold weather is that some articles of clothing that was used a lot in the past have now become popular even among teenagers. For example, knitted socks are really hot fashion right now. And if you want longer socks there are also knitted socks in “over knee” size, embellished with yarn balls! It is good when reality and fashion goes together! On the whole, knitted clothes has got a higher status in Sweden the last years, sweaters and jackets, big scarves etc.

In the northern parts of Sweden, and in all areas on Earth that have long and cold winters, the people are accustomed to very cold winters with much snow. And because it’s the same every year they probably get used to it. But I could never get used to such cold. I think it is intolerable in the long run. The snow covered landscape can be very beautiful, when you look at it from indoors. Once outside it is a different feeeling! I am already longing for spring, with sunshine and warmth. I can’t help but wondering, why hasn’t all of us who live in areas with winter cold, adapted to our reality?

It is even worse in the northern part of Sweden!


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    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Ricky, Oh Yes I have thought about leaving many times, at least during winter time. I don't think I could leave Sweden permanent since I love my country so much but I am planning to spend the winters somewhere else when I retire just like you. It seems like a perfect idea! I just have to endure until then I guess:) Thanks for reading and for the comment!


    • profile image

      Ricky 5 years ago

      I'm from the coast of New England and feel the same way! My mother now lives in Florida in the winter and my son started college there this year. My husband and I are the only ones left here. When the whether gets cold I think about retiring so I could avoid the winters. Have you thought about leaving? It seems crazy to spend so much time uncomfortable.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      olala, Since Sweden is a long and narrow country will the climate and temperature vary depending on which part of Sweden you plan to visit. In general, the weather in December can vary from a few degrees in the southern part of Sweden to very colder in the more northern parts. Sometimes I don't know which is the worst! The damp, cold and grey weather in southern Sweden can feel very cold and the wind usually makes it even worse. The best advice I can give you is to dress in several layers, wear warm shoes and use gloves and wear something on your head. I live on the Swedish west coast and the weather here is now just grey, rainy and windy, leaving a damp and cold feeling. The colder temperatures usually doesn't occur in the part of Sweden until January or February. Even if you are not used to cold weather I do think you will be able to spend time outdoors and also enjoy it. Yes, I will say that it is just a matter of clothing and then there are differences in how we like cold weather. Some people just love it and enjoy winter no matter how cold it is and then there are people like me who have difficulties to endure the cold. I hope you will enjoy your stay here and if you have a moment, please come back and tell me your experience.


    • profile image

      olala 5 years ago

      Loved the article, and how honest and spontaneous it seems to me !

      Though I would really appreciate any opinions about this matter..

      I am from Athens (Greece) and the coldest I've ever been to is like -5 I think..So for this Christmas I was thinking about visiting some Swedish friends but I won't hide my fear about the cold there during December.Since we're 18 years old we would like to spend some time outdoors,visit places etc. and I would like to hear your opinions/experiences especially from people from Meditaranean countries.Could you stand being outside? Is it just a matter of clothing or we will freeze anyways ?

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Silver Fish, I am so glad to know that the geese have arrived safely in Scotland this year too! The autumn is here and I enjoy all the lovely colors that nature is showing, it is almost unbelievable beautiful. It is always good to hear from you and I hope all is well! Let's hope for a mild winter!


    • Silver Fish profile image

      Silver Fish 5 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland

      Reading this hub again as I am reminded of you when I see our geese arriving. Thousands have been squawking their way over my house for the past week. Such beautiful formations; I always step outside when I hear them. We will keep them safe till spring.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Linda! Yes, I can understand that you are glad for the warm temperature and I must say that I envy you during our cold winter season! I will never enjoy winter, cold and snow but I know so many people who loves the winter! I honestly don't know how they can enjoy cold temperatures, but they do! A cold and sunny winter morning makes them happy and they enjoy it with big smiles. People like me must have been born with the wrong genes or something:)) Thanks for the sunshine Linda, I really need it:)


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi cc! A cold February morning! Oh, I feel cold just thinking about it! February is the worst month here and every year I wonder how I am going to endure. Many of my friends think February is easier because it slowly, slowly becomes lighter but that doesn't matter to me. The only thing that matters is that it is freezing cold and I have usually lost my patience with cold at that time of year! I agree with you, the warn and cosy fires and the time around Christmas is fantastic but that is enough for me.

      We have just had a wonderful weekend with sunny and fantastic summer temperatures and I enjoyed every minute of it. I love summer!


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Made, I know you know how it feels and I can imagine that it is even colder where you live! The only way to endure is to dress properly but it is a struggle:) I am so glad it is summer now and I hope it will be a very warm summer. The thought of a lovely summer is the only way to make it through the winter, knowing it will end. I have really tried to like the winter season, but I can't. I always hope for a short and mild winter! Thank you for reading and I hope we will have a long and warm summer this year!


    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I am so glad I live in Florida. I will take 100* temperatures over cold weather anytime! I was freezing reading this article even thought it's 93* today. Oh my, I feel for you Tina. I bet no one could ever really get used to the cold temps. Sending you some sunshine for those cold months.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      I grew up in Colorado, USA and the winters were 6 months long. I moved to a state that was supposedly much warmer, but I have to say that I DO NOT LIKE the cold. I don't mind the warm fires, or the scent of cinnamon and spice around Christmastime, but a cold February morning with lots of snow just doesn't do it for me. Hehe, I so feel your pain here. Thank goodness we're heading into summer! ;)

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 6 years ago from Finland

      I'm glad the winter is over for now. I wear four layers of sweaters, three layers of pants and two pairs of knitted socks, when it's really cold outside. It takes an eternity to get the children dressed every morning. We have snow from November to May here. This Winter we didn't really have much snow before January. I don't know if I can stand another cold and dark winter. This hub is great!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi cr00059n, Yes we have to live with the winter and many people like it and are enjoying the snow with all their heart. I can't say that I am one of them though:) I can enjoy the beauty of a cold winter morning when the snow reflects in the white snow, from indoors that is. It is the cold I have trouble with and at the same time I get outside it hits me and seems to go through my body no matter how I dress! Some are made for this cold climate, and some are not! I think you mean Switzerland with Swiss Made watches because Switzerland is very famous for watches and has been so for as long as I can remember! Many people mix up these two countries so you are not alone. I will add a map in this hub to get it more clear to everyone so I am actually glad you gave me this idea. It is always great to be able to add something to a hub when it has been published for a while!

      Thank you for reading and for your comment,


    • profile image

      cr00059n 6 years ago

      Swedish winter's look so elegant and scenic. People there take weather and work with great stride and enjoyment. What a popular country with lots of amenities. I probably get reminded of Swiss Made watches every other month. Have been noticing many media and educational outlets proclaiming Sweeden Watches from when I was in Kindergarten. Nice Place!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Jose A.M.

      The summer temperatures in Sweden can vary between15 to 25 ° C. July and August are usually the warmest month, and hot periods on 30 °C or more, usually occurs at least once every summer. When you visit Stockholm I suggest that you visit the Royal Castle and also take time to look at the “Old town” in Stockholm. It is a wonderful part of Stockholm and to walk in the narrow alleys is like walking in a museum. This is the oldest part of Stockholm and some of the buildings are from 1252 when Stockholm was founded. Apart from that, you have many interesting museums and of course Grona Lunds Amusement Park, with the beautiful park called Skansen. Another great way to see Stockholm is to take sightseeing by boat around the town and to the surrounding archipelago. I hope you will find Stockholm at its best when you visit:) Oslo is also a beautiful town with fantastic history that can be explored in the many museums. I also recommend a visit to the Norwegian Opera and ballet that is a fantastic building. I have never been to Sundsvall myself so I have no personal recommendations to you. I hope you will enjoy your stay in Sweden and Norway very much and if you visit during summer you will stay clear from the cold described in this hub! Thanks for reading and for your kind comment


    • profile image

      Jose A. M. 6 years ago


      I loved your article, the pictures, everything is so nice! I am from Argentina and I want to go visit Stockholme, Osle and Sundsvall this year.

      I was wondering if you could tell me what places could I visit over there in Sweden and what the weather/temperature is like in Summer. I can barely make it through the argentine winter hahaha!


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Cloverleaf, oh, that sounds so unpleasant! Right now, I enjoy the warm summer winds but I know where we are heading since the major part of the summer is gone by now. I just hope summer stays on for a month more or so, and that autumn will be long and beautiful. I want to leave those wool socks where they are right now: in the wardrobe! Yes, winter demand some road construction:)

      Thanks for your comment and I hope you can enjoy the warmer season,


    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Tina, I can relate to this hub so much! In Calgary it gets down to -30 no problem in the winter. I chuckled at your wool sock picture because that's me haha!

      We really only have 2 seasons in Calgary: "Winter" and "Road Construction".

      Take care,


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

      Silver Fish,I am sorry to hear that also Scotland have had a bad winter. Snow can really create a standstill until the snow is off the streets and it is possible to get out. This occur even here and I can imagine that is even worse if it isn´t usual. The winter, with snow and cold weather started here in late october, so now I really have had enough of it! But one adapts in a strange way, and now we see a slow increase in the daylight too! Thanks for coming by, and leaving such an interesting comment, I appreciate it!

    • Silver Fish profile image

      Silver Fish 7 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland

      Great hub, we have just had a month of really bad snow here in Scotland, the worst in 100 years, we are ill prepared for it and came to a standstill. Digging cars out, people unable to get to work, no food in the shops.

      The human spirit is a wonderful thing, and I admire people who choose to live in these sever climates.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

      BkCreative, so fantastic, that is a good point; winter is for hubbing! That is at least one good thing about it! I also have those friends who just love the winter, and the snow, and this is a great time for them! The snow keeps on pouring down, and the ice cold temperature is still there, but now I try to not focus on it so much. But the flip flop! Oh how lovely it would be, but they seems to be far away yet! One can only dream! And your comment gave me the possibility to think about something positive with winter! Thanks for the voting and your upliftning comment! The spring will come!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      It seems that so many of my friends just loooove the cold weather. OK - so as I wait for summer and flip flops and summer fruits and wonder the purpose of winter - I started thinking that we have winter for - well..."Those Winter People" - whew!

      And then I think of what my dear Grandmother used to say - 'in winter do winter things, in summer do summer things...'

      So winter in New York City means I can stay indoors while working as a freelance writer and hubber and be productive. Were it summer, I would be nowhere near this silly computer.

      Super hub! Lovely photos! Rated way up.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

      Hello Tom, I can´t understand it either! But I have tried! I have really tried to convince myself because I believe that by controlling your thought you can to some extent control your experiences. And it would have been much easier to enjoy winter than to hate it! But positive thoughts doesn´t help in this case.

      It is so nice to see you here Tom, and I am glad you dont have so cold where you live. Thanks for your supportive comment!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi thougtforce it's hard to believe some people like the cold weather, but there are so who do, but I'm not one of them. I dislike the cold weather and snow and could do without both.Even though it does not get has cold here as it does were you live it's still cold. Take care and stay warm my friend!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

      Martie~ I can see the fun in it too, afterwards! When its going on, every morning is a battle! I think that it is quite interesting to observe how all people try to adapt and struggle with the snow and the cold. We slowly change. It is like we live two different lifes here; one life in the other three seasons when we are outside in the garden or at the beach at our leisure time, walking or sitting in outdoor cafes and are quite social, and so this struggle and isolated life in the winter! There are of course some who love the snow and takes the opportunity to practice winter sports. But I don´t!

      A layer of ice at the windscreen can be annoying to!

      I am glad I could make you laugh:))

      To tell others about a problem is one way of dealing with it, and to hear about the weather in other parts of the world is so interesting! Thanks for coming by!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

      Katie, I am sorry to hear that! I wish that nowone have to endure such cold! I think the same; what am I doing here? How can I go one living like this? The darkness and the ugliness is another thing that comes when there is no snow! Well, well, I am happy that we have a very warm and cosy house, and a wonderful bathroom. To enter the bathroom with underfloor heating and take a warm shower does wonder for a numb body! Thanks for coming by and leave such a compassionate comment! The sun will return!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

      Carrie, I agree,, it feels like -50! It is unbelivable! Today at the bus stop when I was certain that I would soon freeze to death, I talked with another Swedish woman who love winter and she sad; it isn´t so bad if you only dress properly! There it was again, the annoying proberb! Grrr... I didn´t bother to answer that, I just said Hm..

      Thanks for your comment, it is good to have someone who understands! Humans are not made for this kind of climate. And the socks, they are totally necessary! Thanks!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 7 years ago from South Africa

      I had to laugh for this: “...first you have to dig out the car...” I don’t think I will survive one of those winters of yours. But reading about it, is quite interesting.

      During our winters I only complain about a very thin, but annoying layer of ice on my car’s windscreen. (If the sun shines on it, I cannot see through it).

      Thanks for sharing!

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      I feel your pain friend. I live in Ohio and today it's a fridged cold with a wind chill that will rip your ears right off your head. Every year about this time I think, What the heck am I living here for? It can also be dark and wet here and that's the worst, so ugly. Here's hoping you get a burst of GOOD sunny and beautiful weather for the holidays. :)

    • carrie450 profile image

      carrie450 7 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

      Brrrrrrr, I know what the damp humidity feels like when the temps are low, it feels more like -50 even though it's only -20. It's hard to keep warm no matter what. The cold seems to go right through us. Those knitted socks seem like they would be very warm thougtforce.


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