What did winter break look like for you? Did it include free community activities and days spent on the slopes?
For children and parents in Sweden, it does! Swedish schools take a week off in either February or March. This break is called sportlov, which translates to sport break. Sportlov is a one-week break that children get from school to enjoy nature and activities with friends and family.
This practice was developed during the coal rations of the 1940s. Schools in Sweden closed for a week to save energy during the coldest part of the year. While the kids were home, outdoor activities were made to make their days meaningful and keep children entertained.
As this effort to save fuel happened at the end of the winter, there was a heavy emphasis on enjoying outdoor activities like skiing and sledding.
After the end of World War 2, the decision was made to establish this week-long break as a permanent part of the Swedish school system due to the positive impact of getting outside during peak cold and flu season.
Today, this tradition continues to give Swedish children and their families a chance to enjoy the last of the winter weather. When sportlov occurs for each school depends on what county the school is in. This is done to ensure the slopes don’t become overcrowded by all of Sweden taking their break at once.
What free activities are available varies by community, but there is one thing they have in common – an enthusiasm for getting outside and enjoying winter in Sweden!