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Explore More - 2018

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THE SCANDINAVIAN

THE SCANDINAVIAN lifestyle One of the things that make the Nordic region so special is its wonderful traditions. Here we take a closer look at its people and their customs FIKA Scandinavia boasts extraordinary natural beauty, and appreciation for nature is deeply ingrained in Scandinavian culture. Many natives see being outdoors as the best way to relax and regularly make time to enjoy country walks, canoeing or fishing trips with friends and family. Being close to nature is enabled partly thanks to the relatively low population density, but in Norway, Finland and Sweden, it is also enshrined in law. The allemansrätt (“everyman’s right”) gives anyone access to public and private land (except gardens attached to a home) for recreational activities, including camping and foraging for wild berries or mushrooms. The Scandinavian love of nature influences its interior design, which favors minimalism, natural light and open spaces furnished with organic materials such as wood and leather. This is reflected in the decor of Viking ocean ships, with the use of natural materials such as limestone, granite and wood throughout, Fika means sitting down to have a cup of coffee and something on the side—often a cinnamon bun—and to Swedes this moment is sacred. Coffee is an even holier liquid than aquavit and, apart from the Dutch, Finns, Swedes and Danes drink more coffee per capita than anyone else in the world—the Italians are gallons behind. And while you can, of course, get a latte in Stockholm or Copenhagen, to be true traditional fika, it should be proper filter coffee, strong and black. Norwegian Friele filter coffee is served on board Viking ocean ships in Mamsen’s. and in detailing such as the birch tree sculptures and Hidden Trolls artwork which appear in the elevators and help create a truly Nordic feel. Because of their close affinity with nature, conservation and green living are hugely important to many Scandinavians. In fact, Sweden and Norway regularly top the list of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world, with Denmark and Finland also in the top 10. The Nordic lifestyle is all about balance and healthy living. Cycling to work, hiking, skinny dipping in the summer, eating oily fish, using the sauna, having family time—these are all just a natural part of life, and you fit in just enough of each. It helps that many companies encourage their employees not to work more than 37 hours a week. Scandinavian life is often said to be governed by Janteloven (“Law of Jante”). Despite its name, it is not an actual law, but a poem from a book about a fictional town in Norway called Jante, written in 1933. In essence, its message is “Do not think you are better than anyone else,” and it urges the individual not to stand out from the crowd, to play down personal success and wealth, and to reject opulence in all its forms. However, there are times when the Scandinavians throw modesty out of the window. The most important day in the Norwegian calendar is May 17, the anniversary of the date in 1814 when Norway signed its own constitution after 400 years of Danish rule. The main event is a parade where 30 EXPLORE MORE 2018

SCANDINAVIAN LIFESTYLE families wearing the national dress walk through cities and towns waving the Norwegian flag, usually to a marching band. In Sweden and Finland, Midsummer’s Eve, a celebration of the summer solstice in June, is one of the best-loved traditions. Friends and family gather together to dance around a maypole, eat traditional herring and drink aquavit (serenaded with a traditional drinking song, of course). The Norwegians and Danes also celebrate Midsummer, but in these places the pagan roots have been Christianized, and so it is known as St. Hans Aften—St. John’s Eve, to honor the birth of St. John the Baptist. This is a more subdued affair, yet it still retains pagan elements, such as the local community gathering around a communal bonfire topped with a witch’s effigy to scare off trolls, witches and evil spirits. Christmastime in Scandinavia is a truly magical event. Mulled wine and gingerbread are essential HYGGE AND LAGOM Hygge has become a buzzword for modern Scandinavian-inspired living, prompting millions all over the world to go shopping for knitwear, make blueberry oatmeal and stock up on candles. But the essence of hygge is not about consumption, it is about quality of life. It is best described as the feeling of being content in any particular moment. A gathering of friends can be described as hygge, as can a bike ride through fresh fall leaves, reading a book wrapped up nice and warm in front of a roaring fire, or drinking tea from your favorite cup. Hygge is making everyday events special by appreciating them in their simplicity. A hygge home is cozy and homely. But incorporating hygge into your lifestyle takes slightly more effort than a trip to IKEA. Start by applying the Swedish concept of lagom to the way you eat. It means not too much, and not too little—but just the right amount. Treat yourself to a slice of cake if you want one, and then walk it off on a pretty nature trail. ingredients—not least on each advent, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve. The weekly countdown is marked by the lighting of a candle on a four-candle candelabra while having adventsfika. The Danes and Swedes enjoy traditional Christmas meals throughout December—often sitting down to one with work colleagues, one with the family and one with friends. And what could be more hygge than that? For more inspiration on living a Scandinavian life, see our new Nordic Style book (page 48). Facing page, clockwise: Hiking in the mountains; pretty garden lanterns; a Constitution Day parade; a fika break; pine cone decorations; a mug of hot tea EXPLORE MORE 2018 31