Like every country has its myriad rituals and customs which differ from other countries, similarly Scandinavian countries have some interesting customs that are age old yet binds the people together. Though Scandinavia has 5 countries namely Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland (Denmark, Finland and Iceland also being called the Nordic countries), they are different but still in many ways similar, the reason for it to fall under the name ‘Scandinavia’. Let’s know more about these nations other than just their names.
8. St. Knut’s Day
In Scandinavia there is an age old popular celebration by the name St. Knut, where they “Have a Party & Throw the Christmas Tree”. It is celebrated on January 13th every year in Finland and Sweden, the 20th day post-Christmas. On this day, the Christmas tree is taken down and all the edible candies and cookies that once adorned the tree, are eaten along with driving frantically in sleighs and sledges.
7. 30 & Unmarried
This is a peculiar yet unique custom followed in Denmark for people who are unmarried until the age of 30. The single woman is called the “Pepper Maid” and the unmarried man is called the “Pepper Man”. Not only the title but the gifts given to these people are unique. They are gifted a Pepper shaker on their birthday eve.
6. Christmas Celebration
In Scandinavian countries, Christmas celebration starts on Dec13, St. Lucia’s Day, when daughters from each households dresses up in white wearing candle lit crown and offer hot coffee and buns to family and friends. As Christmas eve nears one can observe the houses decorated with statues made of straw of the Yule goat. And finally, on the eve of Christmas, with the Yule goat guarding the tree, the Scandinavian family gathers together for a sumptuous feast.
5. Wife Carrying Competition
This entertaining custom of wife-carrying started in Finland and is now looked up as a major sport in Scandinavia. Known as ‘Eukonkanto’ in Finnish, this game includes a race where make people compete carrying their wives on their shoulder (over the shoulder or upside down with legs around husband’s shoulder). The winner is rewarded in beer according to how heavy their wives are. For this ward some husband’s would be glad of their heavy weighed wives.
4. Midsummer Eve celebration
Midsummer (longest day of the year) is Scandinavia’s most popular festival and almost all Scandinavian countries celebrate it in their unique way. Where in Sweden, the festival is known as ‘Midsommar’, and is celebrated with people dancing around a Maypole decorated with flowers. In Norway and Denmark the celebration involves bonfires preceded by an evening procession and in Finland the eve is celebrated with bonfires and often birch branches are placed at the entrance to welcome guests.
3. Social Etiquette
In Scandinavia much emphasis is laid on following social customs. They take it pretty seriously and expect a traveler to follow the same. Though they are friendly by nature, they would appreciate being given their personal space. They are egalitarian and look at discrimination in any form as disrespectful. So actions such as staring at a woman will be considered rude and pulling chair for a woman is considered chivalrous.
2. Wedding Traditions
The Scandinavian countries have unique ways to celebrate the wedding ceremonies. Traditions that have been followed since ages and still being followed by many. A tradition in Denmark is to build a pine archway in the front of bride’s house known as the ‘Gates of Honour’. In their wedding bride and groom leave separately and are kissed by unmarried people of opposite sexes as a symbol of Good Luck. Finland follows a tradition where the bride places her crown on an unmarried woman while being blindfolded.
1. Dining and Socializing
Scandinavians are extremely hospitable. So the next time you are invited for dinner, don’t forget to take a gift for the host. While dining, it is considered wise to pick your drink only after the host or any of the guests have raised a toast. They are great conversationalists, so you might come across discussions about various topics on the dining table. You can also perhaps contribute by adding on positive comments here and there.