6 Incredible Things That Only Happen in Scandinavia

Could this be the secret to their happiness?

Aug 22, 2016
A baby models the box from the 2015 maternity package (Photo: Kela/Annika Söderblom)

A baby models the box from the 2015 maternity package (Photo: Kela/Annika Söderblom)

Sweden, Norway, and Finland are consistently among the top countries in rankings regarding overall happiness, quality of life, and education. So what is it that makes these Nordic nations so special? Keep reading for a glimpse of amazing things that only happen in Scandinavia.


1. FINNISH BABIES SLEEP IN BOXES

Since the 1930s, expectant mothers in Finland receive a special gift from the government: a cardboard box filled with all the essentials needed for the baby’s first few weeks, including bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, nappies, bedding and a small mattress. With the mattress fitted into the bottom, the box itself turns into baby's first bed. Today, almost 95% of all mothers chose the baby box (they can also opt for a cash grant instead), and this much needed assistance for expecting parents has helped make Finnish mothers the happiest in the world. Good on you Finland!

2. SWEDISH PRISONERS BAKE CAKE INSTEAD OF ESCAPING

In 2006, the guards at the Norrätlje prison in Sweden forgot to lock the cell doors of six inmates before changing shifts. What could have turned into a dramatic error (three of the men were convicted murderers), instead took an unusual turn of events. Instead of attempting to escape, the men broke into the prison kitchen and baked a chocolate cake, which they ate while watching TV – inside a blanket fort they built. Instead of punishing the men, Warden Hans-Olov Larsson applauded them for their calmness and cleanliness, and one of the inmates said “it was one of the most enjoyable evenings we’ve had in a long time.”

3. NORWAY MIGHT GIFT A MOUNTAIN TO FINLAND

What do you get someone who already has everything? Norwegians found an exceptionally creative answer to this age-old question, by suggesting that Norway gift its neighbor Finland an entire mountaintop to celebrate the country’s 100 years of independence in 2017. Finland’s highest point is top of Hálditšohkka, which is a sub-peak within a larger mountain spur known as Halti. The actual mountain-top is one kilometer away on the Norwegian side of the border. By moving the Norwegian border by 40 meters, Hálditšohkka’s summit would transfer into Finnish territory, making it the country’s highest mountain and a truly special birthday gift. The measure has not yet been decided, but Norway’s prime minister is currently looking into the creative suggestion.

This boundary stone marks the border between Finnland and Norway near the summit of the Haltitunturi (Photo: Lothar Sowada, CC BY-SA 3.0)

This boundary stone marks the border between Finnland and Norway near the summit of the Haltitunturi (Photo: Lothar Sowada, CC BY-SA 3.0)

4. SWEDISH BLOOD DONORS GET A TEXT WHEN THEY SAVE A LIFE

Saving blood saves lives, but whose lives? Sweden decided to answer that question, with a new service which sends donors an automatic text message when their blood has been used. This push for extra transparency came in response to blood donation shortages, and is a creative way to let donors know that their donations really count. This creative measure has already led to a rising interest in contributions, and Swedish authorities are even informing citizens of the exact levels of blood in stock with real-time levels accessible on their website.

5. FINLAND IS THE WORLD CHAMPION IN WIFE-CARRYING

It is not entirely clear why, but the sport of wife-carrying, or eukonkanto, originated in Finland, and since 1992, the country even hosts the Wife Carrying World Championships. The sport is exactly what it sounds like: men have to carry a female partner through a 253.5-meter-long obstacle course, and whoever finishes in the shortest amount of time, wins. While the prizes vary according to championship and region, they traditionally include the woman’s weight in beer. No stranger to curious sporting events, Finland also hosts the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships as well as the annual Air Guitar World Championships.

A contestant of the Wife Carrying World Championships carries his wife through water (Photo: Pekka Honkakoski)

A contestant of the Wife Carrying World Championships carries his wife through water (Photo: Pekka Honkakoski)

6. SWEDEN IS RUNNING OUT OF TRASH

Sweden is well-known for its progressive environmental strides; the Scandinavian country's waste-to-energy system efficiently provides direct heating to 950,000 Swedish households and electricity to 260,000 homes. Sweden recycles and sorts its trash so effectively that less than 1% ends up in landfills, so much so that the country is actually running out of trash. Seeing garbage as a commodity, Sweden imports trash from other European countries to fuel its power needs, with 700 kg (1543 lbs) of rubbish converting into up to 250 kg (551 lbs) of energy and fuel.

DAVID RUHM, EDITOR IN CHIEF
David has a passion for languages and words, and loves to see people happy. He writes about inspiring ideas, amazing technologies and all the wonders of the world.

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