“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”

Bad weather clothes

Shit Norwegians Say #1

Welcome to a new series here on Life in Norway – Shit Norwegians Say. Firstly, a hat-tip to Daniel-Ryan Spaulding for the name, borrowed from his awesome video “Shit Expats in Norway Say“. Go watch and share if you haven't already!

First up is the phrase that inspired the whole series…

“THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS BAD WEATHER, ONLY BAD CLOTHES”

Say this to me, and you'll now be met with a rather blunt (and very British): “oh just f*ck off”

Of all the Norwegian phrases out there, I'd wager it's this one you'll encounter first. Most likely before you even land in the country, if you're (un)fortunate enough to be sat next to a native on your flight.

Savour this moment – it's the one and only time you'll find it funny.

Because the next time you hear it, you'll be drenched.

And the next time.

And the time after that, ad infinitum.

Of course, there is good reason for the phrase, and I'm not really disputing its correctness. Snow, ice, winds, rain, and thunderstorms are the norm here, from the arctic north to the relatively mild south. From an early age Norwegians soon learn how to dress appropriately. Grasping the concept of layering is just as important as learning to count. If Norwegians didn't go out in bad weather, in certain parts of the country they would never go out at all! (here's looking at you, Bærgen!)

Foreigners are often drastically underprepared for the Norwegian winter. Actually even more so for the spring and autumn, when you frequently experience all types of weather within a couple of hours. Norwegians take great glee in directing this phrase at all damp-looking foreigners, with the excitement of thinking they're the first to ever share this advice.

But is there really no such thing as bad weather?

I beg to differ…

Danger of snow blindness

Hail in Trondheim

More rain

The Expat Revenge

Nine times out of ten, the phrase is preceded with:

Ah, well in Norway we have a saying…”

Equally as annoying, but it does give the savvy expat a chance to get in there first.

Example:

David – “Ugh, what awful weather, does it always rain like this in Bergen?”
Norwegian – “Yes”
David – “I'm drenched!”
Norwegian – “Ah, well in Norway we have a saying…”
David – “There's no such thing as bad weather, only smug Norwegians?”
Norwegian – …

Try it yourself next time, it's fun.

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

22 Comments

  1. That’s not a actually a saying but an advertising slogan! ( a bloody brilliant one, I might add)

    For Bergans, I think.

    Written by Roald Stensby, who is more know for winning the first Norwegian Championship in rock way back when they had championships in rock.

  2. Just found your website and having great fun reading bits of it whilst sitting in apartment watching pouring rain Nd thunder+lightening! Still love Norway though and wish I could live here too!

  3. I always found this saying a bit obnoxious, and couldn’t really believe others were BAD at dressing for the weather (after all, it simply makes sense) – but after not only plenty of visits to European countries in both winter and summer, not to mention living in Dublin for more than 4 months, I realized this saying is not as obnoxious as it seems, because in some countries people DO seem to struggle with dressing.

    It is amazing. I will never understand why people would go out in dark, cold winter with heavy winds in short dresses and high heels, without even a thick jacket against the cold! Do they want to freeze to death? It’s not only women either – some men seem to wear the same, impractical shoes in all weather, for instance. I can’t fathom it. Why would they do this to themselves? I thought I, as a Norwegian, handled cold well, but after seeing how they go out in the cold without the proper clothes on – well… I could completely understand the Christmas sweater tradition too, all of a sudden; at least then people wear a warm sweater in the cold! 😉

  4. Just found your blog and laughed out loud at this post! Am currently writing about an upcoming trip to Scandinavia and couldn’t recall the saying about bad weather… but you’ve summed it up nicely!

    thanks.

    1. Well “David”, On the off chance that I should ever say such a thing to you and you told me to, and I quote, “oh just f*ck off”. Then you would receive a far more British, punch in the head for being a rude child. Just because you have deserted your native land does not mean that you have any rights to spread bad manners around the world and you certainly don’t have any right to attribute your rudeness to the British; in fact, What makes you think you would be welcome back in Britain? Perhaps you should, “… just f*ck off”.

      1. Hi Ulf, thanks for reading and for your very productive comment! Unfortunately you’ve taken the post a little too literally rather than in the gentle humour it was intended (and that everyone else seems to have grasped). I’ve lived in Norway for 4 years now, so clearly I don’t mind the weather too much 🙂

      2. Hi Ulf, David,

        I’m not going to try speaking for David here, and he’s already replied, but I found this quite interesting…! And, it would be even better if Ulf were to return and give us some more of his opinion!

        As a Brit, I took David’s expression as a gag and nothing else; slightly obnoxious, but well within the normal boundaries of gags in this day and age. It is obvious to me he would never dream of saying that to anyone except perhaps as a running joke to Norwegian friends… and I’ve never met the bloke!

        I say, ‘in this day and age’, but I’m reminded of an excellent article I read about German humour (to Brits a famous unicorn’s feather – but this article made it all crystal clear!), and how their tendency to put long words together and their grammar precludes improvised and instant plays on words the Brits have historically, so one of their only options in humour is to throw out THE single most obnoxious potential outcome of any situation which is so horrifically incongruous the only thing to do is laugh at it! I thought it was a good article anyway, and although it more than likely includes confirmation bias, anecdotally, I have found it to be true and agreed upon with three male German friends (two of whom also agreed with the analysis) but very different with one female.

        British humour, I think I’m right in surmising, comprises of improvised word-play (invention of new but instantly recognisable expressions), brutalist observation and extremist opinion- or scenario-making (however fantastical – pretty much like the German model – which also lends itself to surrealism), and the somewhat fatalistic dry irony (which encompasses a lot but might easily include the blunt German model and the wry Norwegian weather observation)

        So, here I am as a part-time amateur linguist with just one year self (and Youtube-) taught Norwegian under my belt and no Norwegian friends, wondering what our fellow German types from whatever country made of David’s gag… Nobody else here seemed to turn a hair at it! Ulf was obviously offended and took it (too? – although obviously this is the whole point of any cultural vs personal judgment) seriously. I never imagined Norwegians as particularly sensitive (as in over-sensitive – I’m not suggesting you’re all oafs!!)…

        TLDR: don’t be lazy! Read it! Or don’t (or just f*ck off!)!

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  6. I never say this to my son in humor. I say it in concern and exasperation because he likes to think he can dress delicately and — for some reason — it will allow him a more pleasant and casual experience. It’s not funny to be cold and drenched in weather. I suppose I would inspire my son more kindly by smiling and inviting him to wear boots to keep his feet dry and warm? How much experience does it take to turn the light on in ones thinking? The same with the expression: You can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. My son doesn’t like going outdoors at all, I suppose, just to walk to the car. So what hope have I? of his survival in Norway? To me, there’s no answer but ……….!!

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