Northern Light

Lessons in style and good living from Stockholm

Stockholm | photo: Classiq Journal

 

It was the end of March. Winter was casting its last streaks of biting cold and wind over Stockholm. It was probably not the best time of the year to make your acquaintance with the Swedish capital, especially if you were coming out of a few grueling dark months of winter in your own homeland. But it definitely was the best time to learn a thing or two about style and the quality of lifestyle – because, let’s face it, in summer, when the sun stays beaming in the sky well throughout the night, it’s easier to be absorbed by the Swedes’ effervescent celebration of summer and life and see only the best parts of it all. But if you want to get a real feel of the city and its people, bundle up and face the cold. You will be served a lesson in genuine style and good living. Just in time for the cold season we are entering.
 

Jantelagen. The law of Jante. It is a Swedish unwritten law of conduct that is carved in stone in the public awareness. It basically says “You are not better than anyone else”. Don’t brag, don’t show off, don’t pretend to something you are not. But don’t complain either. Just get to work and do it well. Understatement.

People don’t walk around looking at their phones all day long.

They have good reason to look up, too. There is beautiful and well-preserved architecture everywhere and there is a palpable sense of value, history and design.

People don’t look at their phones all the time when they are indoors either. They socialize, talk and take in the beautiful design they are surrounded with. And get creative about it. Many restaurants are redecorated from season to season. The Swedes breath design.

Children are treated respectfully as they should, as little people. They are encouraged to explore their surroundings with little interference from their parents, they are involved in their parents’ activities, whether it’s running in the park together, biking to school/work, setting out the table, or going out for fika.

Children spend a major part of their day, even in winter, outside – many parents put their babies to nap in the stroller outside even when the temperatures are below zero degrees Celsius. In the parks, you see moose, deer and wild rabbits. The playgrounds are very creative and many are themed around nature and are stocked with tricycles, balls, buckets and shovels.

One of the most beautiful children’s museum in the world, created around books, and numerous themed play centers around the city. The reading culture is amazing. Here is what a day at Junibacken looks like. And this reminds me of how important it is for children to see books around them from an early age and see you read even when you are not reading to them. When your child is playing by himself/herself, resist the urge to leave the room and resume your work or house chores. Don’t be lazy either, and, for God’s sake, don’t take out your phone (I trust your better judgement that you are even leaving the phone outside the room your child is in). Pick up a book and read. You are sending them a message and it will stick.

Men and women are equally involved in raising their children. They split everything, from child care, to running the household. They are a team.

There is no bad weather, just bad clothing. Consequently, there’s no need for you to be gloomy when it’s freezing cold outside. Embrace it!

Black, white, grey, beige, brown, blue. Just keep it simple, classic and timeless. Everyone dresses well in Stockholm. There are no people more stylish than the Swedes. Period.

People are fit. Exercise is something they are raised with. It’s in their genes. Everybody walks, bikes or takes the metro everywhere. Even in winter.

Mysig. It is rather hard to define in English, but it technically means “smiling from comfort,” or being cosy. Swedes even have a word for curling up indoors on a Friday night, fredagsmys, which literally means “Friday cosiness”. You light candles, cuddle under a blanket on the sofa and watch a movie. Making the best of a long dark Swedish winter evening spent indoors. It’s a tradition.

 

Djurgården, Stockholm | photos: Classiq Journal

 

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