Why Do Scandinavians Not Have Curtains?

Scandinavian countries have a rich cultural history, resulting in some interesting traditions. Some of these may appear strange to outsiders, but they make sense to those who practice them.

For instance, Scandinavians don’t usually hang curtains in their homes.

Scandinavians don’t have curtains or rarely close the ones they have out of respect for tradition, privacy, and interior design choices.

The lack of curtains or blinds also helps emphasize their desire for an uncluttered space by reducing visual distractions from unnecessary window treatments.

This article will provide more information regarding traditions that affect curtain use in Scandinavia. I’ll also talk about their views on privacy and preferred interior design choices. 

Also, see Why Do Scandinavians Tan So Well? to learn more.

Why Scandinavians View Curtains Unnecessary

Some think curtains are banned in Scandinavian homes, but that isn’t true. Scandinavians simply prefer not to use curtains.

The main reason isn’t exactly known, but there are several explanations behind this.

They Respect Tradition

Back in the day, sailors’ wives would put candles in the window so the sailors could find their way home in the dark. [1]

It is a meaningful story that continues to influence modern-day Scandinavian practices.

Back then, sailors’ wives didn’t use curtains because they could easily catch fire with a burning candle in the window; no one could constantly watch the candle in the window.

Placing candles in the window is a lovely gesture and could be part of the reason curtains are rarely closed today. 

However, sailors’ wives are not the only ones who would place candles in the window.

In Sweden, it is tradition to have candles in the window for almost the whole month of December for the holidays.

Candles in the window have become a traditional thing to do in many places when it comes to Christmas time. 

Candles used to be put in windows only on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but it soon spread to more days throughout the month, and a new tradition began. [2]

Some even claim to use them during this time to keep away evil spirits from getting into their homes. It’s a sense of protection from negativity.

Still, burning candles in the window can be a fire hazard, with or without curtains around. Nowadays, there are fake candles that can be used that don’t use a real flame, so that’s always an alternative.

Scandinavia Has Short Winter Days

A less exciting reason for the lack of curtains in Scandinavia is that there are shorter days in the winter.

There isn’t much need to keep out the few hours of sunlight Scandinavians get. They want to enjoy their little sunlight, so the curtains seem pointless. 

The use of curtains can also affect the temperature in the house.

When sunlight comes in, a window without curtains can help warm up the home.

So, it makes sense that they would take advantage of the few hours of daylight they have in the winter and not use curtains, especially since the electric or gas bill can skyrocket in the winter.

Scandinavians Value Privacy

Another reason Scandinavians don’t use curtains that much is that everyone respects one another and their privacy.

If someone is peering into one’s house because their curtains are open, they’re looked down upon.

Scandinavians have a unique outlook on life that can be seen in their culture, customs, and even the way they decorate their homes.

Blinds and curtains are wide open throughout most of the home, and it’s considered rude to look inside someone’s home or be caught snooping on the neighbors.

However, if a Scandinavian person sees someone changing clothes, they find no fault with it. It’s normal to change clothes or shower. [3]

Scandinavians are not shamed for doing everyday things.

Furthermore, Scandinavians consider it unpolite to come into one home wearing their shoes.

Shoes carry a lot of dirt, and as a guest, they should ensure not to dirty up their home as a sign of respect and thankfulness for being invited into their home. 

Personal space is a concept that many people take for granted.

However, for Scandinavians, it has far greater significance and is taken very seriously.

In both public and private spaces, the sense of personal space is an important part of the culture. One should never invade another’s personal space to cause discomfort. 

Curtains Signify Dishonesty

To add to the custom regarding privacy, there is another side to it: using curtains and keeping them closed throughout the home signifies that a person may have something to hide or be dishonest about.

Even though neighbors aren’t supposed to peer into their neighbors’ windows when curtains are pulled back, it’s noticeable when all curtains are closed.

Curtains have always been associated with secrecy as they can act as physical boundaries between people and their secrets.

By keeping their curtains drawn, it shows that they do not wish to communicate with anyone outside of their inner circle.

Scandinavians Have Minimalist Interior Design Choices

The Scandinavian home has become an iconic style of interior design known for its minimalism and clean lines.

It often leaves out a few decorative elements that are found in the traditional home. One such element is curtains and other unnecessary window treatments.

Scandinavian homeowners wish to keep their space light and airy.

Curtains are known to block natural light from entering, which can make rooms feel darker or more claustrophobic – something that’s not ideal in a Scandinavian setting where natural light is highly prized.

In Scandinavia, natural light is cherished and considered an important part of life.

By eliminating curtains, they are able to enjoy more natural light throughout their day than those who opt for window treatments.

This not only allows them to feel connected to nature but also adds warmth to their homes.

Additionally, minimalism has become increasingly popular in Nordic countries as people seek a simpler way of living which includes removing unnecessary items from their homes, including curtains and drapes, which can oftentimes appear too ornate or heavy in comparison with the rest of their décor scheme.

[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source

Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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