Understanding Scandinavian Culture and the Nordic People


There is a lot more to the Nordics than good seafood and breath-taking views. I certainly don’t mind both though!

I have been trying to understand Scandinavian Culture and the Nordic people in general, to make my integration here as smooth as possible. This region has got many cultural nuances, and I have learnt that you risk some frustration if you go in unarmed. You know what they say: knowledge is power. And forewarned is forearmed.

So last year Ian encouraged me to buy this book. The Almost Nearly Perfect People – Behind The Myth of The Scandinavian Utopia. Very interesting title, I know! From hygellig to janteløven to nude saunas, this book is a great insight for anyone considering an extended stay in the Nordic region.

I mostly read this book on plane rides in out and out of Scandinavia. It is a comfortable read with a satirical take on many things Nordic, while staying true to the subject. While there are several injections of a healthy dose of humour through out this book on Scandinavian culture and the Nordic region, the book does not trivialise.

Many things that I have read about in the book, I have witnessed in real life in the short time I have spent among Scandinavians. I have spent a bit of time in Norway, and visited Sweden a few times. I have only visited Denmark once. So you see, I really need the Scandinavian Cultural education, as I am going to be living and working in this region.

Do I really need to bother educating myself about Scandinavian culture?

Some lovely Norwegians I have met have advised to simply be myself and not worry too much about what might be considered un-Norwegian. This is good advice. As long as you are well mannered, you should be okay. However, what is normal one place can be completely taboo elsewhere.

Check the book out on Amazon, and read some of the reviews. Honestly I was surprised to see that it cost this much less on Amazon. I bought it in a Norwegian bookstore and it cost me more. No surprise there, though. But I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Scandinavian people and their special ways. If you don’t want to read all of it (I can’t imagine why!), get a preview on your Kindle.

You keep switching between the words Scandinavian and Nordic, what is the difference?

Glad you asked! Scandinavia refers to the lands that were originally occupied by the vikings. These are Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Nordic refers to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

I feel that The Almost Nearly Perfect People – Behind The Myth of The Scandinavian Utopia was a good way to prepare for my Scandinavian move. Have you read it? What did you think? Do you know someone traveling to the land of the people of the North for a while? Why not get it for them as a going away present?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.