Oh Baby it’s Cold Outside!

It seems that my thoughts are focused on the weather these days. Thank goodness I have a nice warm apartment because I have no desire to venture out into the winter temperatures that have been hovering around 0° Celsius (32 ° Fahrenheit). I just can’t take the cold.

The French have a specific word to describe people like me. I am frileuse (a man would be frileux) – meaning a person very sensitive to the cold. So being frileuse and being curious, I have been thinking about how different cultures react to, or adapt to the weather. My plan of action is to simply avoid going out in the cold as much as possible. In a recent post I talked about my astonishment at seeing postmen (and others) bare-legged in the winter here in England.

But I was really shocked to read an article on the BBC website about babies left outside to nap in very cold temperatures in some Nordic countries. In Sweden and Norway, for example, it is apparently common practice and considered to be healthy for the baby.

Can you imagine passing a café and seeing babies in prams parked outside in the snow while the mums are inside having a nice hot coffee? In the US or in the UK, I think we would be calling social services and reporting child abuse.

Even at the pre-schools in these cold climates, the children are put outside for their naps. But you will be happy to know that at least one pre-school covers the prams with blankets when the temperature drops to -15C (5F).

They claim these frigid siestas are good for the babies – they sleep better and the cold air helps to kill germs. But they emphasize that the child must be dressed warmly and preferably in wool. The Swedish say that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. Maybe they are right but I don’t think I will be napping out on the balcony this afternoon, no matter how many wool jumpers (sweaters in the US) I put on.

The idea of wearing wool clothing however makes me think of the other weather extreme and our travels in the centre of Turkey in the hot summer. We noticed that many of the older men and women were wearing wool jumpers. When we asked about it we were told that the same fabric that keeps the cold out in winter also keeps the heat out in the summer. I thought about this as I looked at the old men sitting in 30° heat (86° Fahrenheit) wearing wool and drinking hot tea. (They say the tea makes them sweat which makes them cooler.) I told myself that I should try it just to see if it works, but somehow I could never bring myself to do it. Maybe this summer.

Click here to read the BBC article about babies who nap in sub zero temperatures

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Margo Lestz
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  1. I read the article and it sounds like child abuse to me. I wonder why the parents don’t sleep on the balconies themselves or have their hot coffees outside. Could be they have learned the comfort of heat.

    I have never tried wearing wool in summer, but I have tried cold drinks in winter and hot drinks in summer. It doesn’t work for me. What do I know; I’m American and love my creature comforts.

    1. It seems to me, that they consider being out in the fresh (cold) air as more beneficial for the young children than it is for adults. Even in England, when shorts were required to be worn to school in winter it was only for the younger ones. As they got older, they were allowed to wear long trousers.

      I think it is fascinating the way different countries react to certain situations. And the funny thing is, that even when two ideas or practices are completely opposite, they both seem to work. It makes the world a very interesting place.

  2. This is a good one. you are right that in England and probably in the USA too, the child protection brigade would be called. But going back to the mid forties into the fifties, that is 1940-50, in the UK, when TB (tuberculosis) was rife, sufferers were sent to an infirmary, where they would be wheeled out in all weathers to sleep outside, thought to be beneficial, God knows how many it killed off!!!!.
    But crossing over here to a previous blog on language difference. You use the word FRIGID here, I have heard many of my American friends here in Italy, use the term to describe the weather and yes in the Oxford English dictionary, it Say’s the same, but in the UK we never use that term to describe the weather, it’s either, cold or freezing, the term Frigid is usually used to in association with a Female and I quote from the Oxford dictionary again, though I did know it, (“can’t think why”!!!), Frigid:- of a women unable to be sexually aroused and responsive, ie, I suppose cold. So if in the UK don’t say, especially to a female, you frigid, just ask if they are cold.
    I love these play on words. Also I alway’s use word check to check spelling and have been caught out a few times, being sure I had spelt a word right, word check tells me not, but of course, it’s google and google is American.

    1. I guess the idea was that freezing temperatures killed the germs but I am sure it killed off some of the patients as well. I can’t think of anything worse than being sick and then being rolled out into the cold.
      Thanks for the heads-up on “frigid”. Both meanings are used in the US, but now I know that in the UK it does not refer to weather. Grazia

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