Getting ready for winter in Denmark

Most Europeans enjoy talking about the weather and is there any wonder when it has such a massive impact on our everyday lives. Since living in Northern Europe I am the proud possessor of a number of items I would have turned my nose up when I was living in the UK or wouldn’t even have known of their existence.

Clothing

Living in Denmark you need to think about clothes for all weathers, especially if you are living a car free lifestyle. They say here ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.’ 

Keeping Dry

The main things you will need to combat the rain are waterproof trousers, wellies or waterproof boots, a long waterproof coat that goes over your waterproof trousers. Also a selection of beanies or wooly hats of varying weights depending in the season (excluding the summer I hope) are worth having.

Keeping Warm

Winters in Denmark vary from being magical to brutal with snow/rain/sleet (sometimes at the same time!) and wind — so a proper warm coat, and not a fashion coat, is a necessity for the winter. Once the mercury falls it seems as if Copenhagen is sponsored by North Face and Berlin by Jack Wolfskin but there is a reason and that is these are the companies who know their stuff. I favour a good quality coat, with a hood, that covers my thighs — style and warmth at once.

Boots are something else to consider. I bought a pair of Sorrel boots, fur-lined with a rubber sole with amazing grip that comes up over the sides of the boot to keep it dry in the snow. I bought these boots when I moved to Copenhagen in 2008, have worn them everyday for at least four months of each of those years and I only replaced them last year when they sprung a leak. They are expensive but worth it.

As above a hat for the winter as well as a few pairs of gloves. You will lose one at some point but it is advisable to have a wide selection of these in varying weights. For the spring/autumn some hand warmers with fingers out made from lightweight wool. Then there are proper basic fashion woolly gloves for a tiny window of time before you need to move into warmer options such as Icelandic wool mittens. These are amazing and are semi waterproof thanks to the natural lanolin in the wool. You shouldn’t wash these and I can vouch for their moisture repelling nature after dropping them in a muddy puddle on a farm to find them dry and clean in less than an hour. Finally some thick windproof and waterproof gloves or mittens for the depths of winter. These can be picked up in the outdoor sections of most sports shops.

Children’s clothing

This is a whole other ball game and an expensive one as children have a nasty habit of growing out of stuff by the next season. Checking out decent second hand stores, flea markets and online sales sites can help reduce the cost. As can looking in the clothing sections of supermarkets. My advice from life in Denmark, Germany and France is to buy early or risk not having much or any choice later on.

This is the basic winter clothes list you need for living in Denmark and if it’s your first winter here with children here is a quick checklist of things you need to get:

  • Winter jacket
  • Snowsuit or above jacket combined with padded trousers
  •  Winter boots (waterproof, warm and high up the ankles — wellies are not going to cut it)
  • Padded gloves or mittens (and clips to attach them to coats for younger kids)
  • Wool gloves
  • Vests and leggings (in case it gets properly cold)
  • A balaclava style hat. (Many preschools and schools will ask that you don’t use scarves for safety but these kind of balaclava hats that come down well below the neck for extra warmth but in my opinion they are very warm and more practical than a hat and scarf combo anyway)
  •  Thick warm socks for all and tights for girls

Winter Health

Skin and hair care

I find that I need to think a lot more about my skincare since living in a cold climate and also spending so much time outside. The change in water can also have an impact on both skin and hair – I found the water in Berlin very drying and also when I first moved to Copenhagen my skin took a while to adjust to the high levels of calcium in the water.

A decent rich face cream and lip balm help stop your skin from drying out in the winter. You will probably find you need to use something much heavier than you would do in the UK or further south. Pharmacies and health food shops often have an excellent selection of winter creams and the staff are very knowledgable. For young children and babies a lanolin based cream which gives their cheeks protection from the wind and cold are an excellent investment. I think the Weleda Winter protection cream with lanolin is perfect.

Vitamins

Living in Denmark you will find your Vitamin D reserves can take a bashing due to the shorter winter days. I always take a general vitamin supplement to boost my immune system from about September to March and I make sure it has 100% of my daily Vitamin D in it. It is easy to find just vitamin D supplements if you don’t want to take other vitamins. Lack of vitamin D can have a huge impact both on your health and your energy levels so it is well worth considering even if you are not normally a vitamin taker. It is especially important for children.

Daylight lamp

You may well have never heard of such things ( I certainly hadn’t) but a daylight or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) lamp is a lifesaver if you are living somewhere with short days of light in the winter. It replicates natural sunlight and depending what kind of model you buy, you can set it to wake you up with a gentle sunrise so your body isn’t sent into shock when your alarm goes off at what seems to be the middle of the night. You can also have them on during the day and sit by the light for an hour or so to fool your body into thinking it is experiencing real day light. It really helps people from getting SAD.

This is an extract from my book My Guide to a Successful Relocation, which is is currently half price in my online shop. If you want to get hold of a copy here is the link.

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