Winter in upstate New York can be a depressing one–long nights, closed business, and cold weather will keep most of us inside and isolated from the rest of the world. If you are not a lover of outdoor winter activities, like skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, then December to March can be a difficult time to get through and will feel as though it lasts longer than the rest of the year.

Sure, you can force yourself to find the beauty in winter. The bare landscape and trees covered in pure white snow make for spectacular pictures and scenery. Sunlight reflecting off the crystals in snow and ice are prettier than the clearest crystals. Even the moonlight seems brighter when there is snow on the ground. But it is so cold and dark for 15 hours out of the day.

No matter how bad it gets in New York, it’s not as tough as it is in Norway, or Sweden, or Russia! The sun doesn’t rise in these most northern countries from November/December to February/March! Temperatures rarely climb out of the 30’s and there is plenty of winter precipitation. Ahhhhh! But the people in those countries do not suffer from seasonal depression and, for some reason, find happiness during the darkest and coldest time of year. Why is that?

To start, residents in countries such as Norway, Denmark, Russia, and Sweden have a positive mindset when it comes to winter. They embrace the active outdoor lifestyle and cozy indoor time. Layering seems to be key to surviving their harsh weather-base layer, a wool second layer, and warm and waterproof outer layer-and staying active when they are outdoors-snowshoeing, skiing, dog sledding, ice skating. Also, even though the sun does not official rise for several months, it does reach just below the horizon. This creates unique colors in the sky during the day, only to be outdone by the vivid and wild Northern Lights.

Another tradition that many artic countries have are Fika and Fredagsmys. Fika is a break in the day that people stop an enjoy a treat, usually a pastry, and something hot to drink, like coffee. During the winter months, Fika breaks could be taken outside with friends where one would enjoy a warm mug of tea or glogg (I added a recipe below) or julol (Christmas beer). Fredagsmys means ‘cozy Fridays’ and is a supped-up version of TGIF. Families will curl up and watch television together noshing on finger foods, mostly tacos, pizza, and reindeer meatballs. To top it off, Saturdays are celebrated with Lordagsgodis, or candy Saturday. A guilt-free tradition of snacking on the family’s favorite sweets throughout the day. Of course, I do not recommend in eating unhealthy amounts of sweets but indulging at the end of a long and cold week or after hours of snowshoeing could be just what makes the darkest days seem a bit brighter.

Those that can find the positive in the winter, as well as during the shutdowns, will see this time of year as a time of opportunity and what they get to do, instead of seeing only what they cannot do. Exercise and outdoor activity can help with that, along with a good Fredagsmys and warm mug of glogg! Some bright outdoor lights, a fire pit, quality wool or down layers, and a hearty charcuterie are things that I plan to try this winter.

What are you going to do this winter to make it easier?

Old-Fashioned Swedish Glogg Recipe | Allrecipes

This Annual Festival Welcomes the Sun’s Return in Norway (theculturetrip.com)

DeWitte, Melissa. The Epoch Times. To Beat the Winter Blues, Think Like a Norwegian (theepochtimes.com) 21 Jan. 2021.

Skye, Sherman. The Epoch Times. Mastering the Art of Swedish ‘Mys’ to Stay Cozy This Season (theepochtimes.com) 20 Dec. 2020.

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