back to top

24 Ways We Should All Be More Like Scandinavians

They have so much to teach us.

Posted on

1. Let's ditch Santa Claus.

And replace him with Joulupukki, who comes from Lapland rather than the North Pole. He visits after dinner, on Christmas Eve, in person. So we wouldn't have to wake up at 6 a.m., we'd get our presents a day early, and we'd get to meet him. Win, win, win.

2. Pay more taxes.

I know, I know. In Sweden, the average worker pays close to 60% of his or her wages in taxes and government fees. But they get it back in excellent child care, hospitals, old people’s homes and jails. So it kinda works.


7. Be nicer to our mums.

Visa Kopu / Via Flickr: roxeteer

All pregnant women in Finland get a state-provided starter kit, regardless of their socio-economic background, which means their infant mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world.

8. And let's be nice to dads too.

To make sure kids get equal attention from both mum and dad, fathers are encouraged to take two months paternity leave in Sweden. It's the most generous paternity law in the world, and they're currently looking to extend it.

9. Let's stop living so near each other.

There are 650 people living in every square mile in Britain. In Finland, there are 44. Imagine not hearing your neighbour have sex every night. That would be nice, wouldn't it?

10. Exclusive restaurants? Theirs are better.

Forget queuing up for three hours to eat another overpriced burger in London. If we want to do the whole exclusive thing, let's go all out. Sweden's Faviken, one of the world's top 50 restaurants, has only 12 seats and is based on a remote farm 600km from Stockholm.


11. We should stop working so hard.

Offices rarely stay open after 5 p.m. in Denmark, and working at weekends is unheard of. The idea is that families can then always eat together. Oh yeah, and Copenhagen is the world's happiest city.

12. And sort out our schools.

Finnish schools have no uniforms, no entrance exams, no fees, no league tables and no Ofsted inspections. No one starts school until they're 7 years old, and dividing children into sets based on ability is illegal. Kids address teachers by their first names, and no one ever gets more than 30 minutes of homework a night. And yet, since 2000, Finland has topped pretty much ever educational league table ever.

13. And our health care.

Call a doctor in Norway or Sweden and you'll get an appointment that day. Have a baby, and you'll get a three-day retreat in a patient hotel with 24-hour midwives at your beck and call. For free.


15. We should fill rye crusts with rice.

And stop stuffing food into greasy pastries. These Karelian piirakkaa are traditional pies from eastern Finland, eaten with munavoi, a mixture of butter and boiled eggs. Sounds gross, but it's actually really good. And healthier than a Cornish pasty.

17. We should celebrate Midsummer's Eve more.

We kind of do this in bits of the U.K., but in Sweden it involves loads of herb-picking, maypole dancing, and heavy drinking. And there's talk of it becoming an official holiday.


21. Let's have some more interesting royals.

Hate to be controversial, but Kate Middleton hasn't really done anything that exciting, has she? Victoria, the Crown Princess of Sweden, on the other hand, studied at Yale, and worked as a diplomat at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. She's just quite a lot better.


24. And when it all goes wrong, let's learn to laugh.

Swedish politician Lars Ohly tweeted a picture of his balls by mistake this week. And then when he noticed, he LOL'd. "Ha ha," he tweeted, "I accidentally posted a picture on Instagram that showed more than intend. Now corrected." What an excellent, v. Scandi, reaction.