It’s a chilly, breezy afternoon in Denmark’s north Jutland, but local residents are not deterred. A line of people dressed in white bathrobes appear from behind a dune and march resolutely towards the shoreline, where they take their robes off and skip into the sea.
The busiest time is during the winter season!” says Kira Marie Froda, 23, who works at CopenHot, a collection of saunas and hot tubs on Copenhagen’s harbour front. During the busy months, November through to February, Copenhagers descend upon CopenHot, where they move between saunas, hot tubs and into the frigid ocean or ice bath (which is literally filled with ice). Although CopenHot is a fairly new establishment, winter bathing and the use of saunas across Scandinavia are not. “We’ve been doing it [winter bathing] for generations. I know my grandfather and great grandfather used to do it, too,” says Froda, who tries to swim at least once a week during the winter.
Many Scandinavians swear by winter swimming, saying that it serves as a mood booster during the long, dark winters. Though science is scarce, enthusiasts say cold water swimming not only heightens happiness but it fosters a sense of community.