In the country where people like to say they’re born with skis on their feet, winter is not something to be endured, but rather something to be enjoyed and embraced.
Outlined by rugged mountains and deep cut fjords, scattered forests with leaning pine trees and roaming reindeer, and miles of unending coastline, five million people call this country home. For the nature lover, Norway is an outdoor bliss. The landscape screams adventure and the opportunity to explore has no limits. Even when the weather conditions are less than favorable – blustering winds, downpours, thunderstorms, snow, ice, more wind, and even more rain – a Norwegian will lean over to the weary traveler with a smile stretched across their face and say, “In Norway, we have this saying: There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.”
There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.
They may be on to something. Learning how to dress properly is something most Norwegians learn before they can tie their own shoes. From the Arctic region of the north to the relatively mild region of the south, it’s no wonder learning how to layer clothing is just as important as learning how to count to 10. It’s essential. But their secret to surviving the winter is more than remembering to wear your wool socks and long underwear.
Koselig, pronounced koosh-lee, is a cultural concept that loosely translates as cozy. However, while those hand-knit wool socks or the traditional blue, red, and white Marius sweater, Marius genser, may also be koselig, there’s more to it.
Koselig is the word Norwegians would use to describe the intimate feeling you get while you’re sitting in front of a crackling fire with friends, the conversation is steady, the coffee is hot, and your fingers are slowly tingling back to life after an afternoon spent skiing down the mountain, skitur. Koselig is gathering around a candle-lit table in a local pub on the weekend enjoying a cold beer, kald øl. It’s sharing a thermos of hot cocoa, varmsjokolade, after a long hike, or gathering around the dinner table with your family for a home-cooked meal. Koselig means you’re taking in the moment for what it is; you’re not distracted by the smartphone in your pocket because you’re enjoying the presence of those around you.
It’s an inner peaceful feeling that can be associated with many things but, most importantly, the atmosphere you surround yourself. Norwegian communities are tightly knit, which only increases their social well-being, but their mindset regarding the winter is one that is unique to the polar north.
In northern Norway, when the sun doesn’t peak above the horizon for almost two months of the year, Norwegians turn to life’s more simple pleasures. Although some may consider this a way of coping with the immense darkness, Norwegians would consider it a way of embracing this special time of year. They make sure the woodpile is stocked and the wool blankets are plenty. Candles are lit throughout their home and coffee and waffles are always on hand.
The feeling of koselig is only intensified when you know someone made the effort to make you feel more comfortable and, well, koselig.
Kaitlin Preusser '17 is an English writing and history major at Concordia.