we all need a little ‘koselig’ in our lives
Two years ago, I visited Norway for Christmas. Catherine and I both had a large Norwegian contingent in our classes while we were at university in Sydney. Coming from two nordic nations, the Canadians and Norwegians got along just fine. It was really sad to head home after five years of living and studying together, so finally, after two years, I booked the trip and headed over for three weeks.
Going there during the winter, right in time for Christmas, was a really wonderful experience. Norwegians embrace the winter; in fact they love it. They grow up on cross country skis and the cold winter months and short days don’t get them down. One of the main reasons for this is their ability to make things ‘koselig‘. This word is hard to translate to English, as the direct translation to ‘cozy’ doesn’t quite do it justice. Koselig is a feeling, an atmosphere, a sense of being comfortable and at ease. This blog post describes it fairly well; koselig.
I asked some of my Norwegian friends to describe koselig to me, in one or two sentences. It was really nice to get their answers; firstly because just reading them made me feel koselig, and secondly, it was nice to talk to friends I hadn’t been in touch with for far too long.
Håvard: Koselig is a Norwegian word that is different to anything else. Koselig is when people are enjoying themselves and when things is nice. You can be alone and have koselig or more people can have it together. In short words. It’s when everything is nice, people are smiling, relaxing and enjoying themselves:)
To me it is being at a warm place, sitting under a blanket, maybe candles and music, while it’s dark outside, hopefully snowing. It could be kind of romantic actually. But basically it’s that good feeling you have when you’re having a great evening/time, relaxed and non-stressed, either alone or with good friends
Kyrre: Koselig is a word that can be used to describe a setting where you feel a warmth and friendliness that comes as a result of having a good time where you share a moment, or ordinary/extraordinary pleasures of life, with people that you find nice and enjoy spending time with.
Hanne Elisabeth: I think in winter, the colder and darker it gets outside, the more “koselig” it becomes inside. Classically koselig involves a fireplace, candles, people you love- the feeling of safety and warmth.
Truls: Koselig depends on the setting but overall in general terms I would define it as “a situation or state of mind where you have a good time and enjoy being in that particular moment”. The term is used to describe a sense of positive well being. Very close to “cosy”
Martin: “Koselig” is that warm fuzzy feeling you get in front of a sparkling fire, over a candle light dinner or when you snuggle up in the arms of someone dear to you. I would say something is “koselig” when all your thoughts are present in enjoying that very moment.
During my visit to Norway, I spent most of the time visiting old friends. For New Years Eve, we had a big dinner at Tonje’s place, and walked out into the streets of Oslo for the countdown to midnight. One thing that was consistent with each dinner I went to; there was always this koselig atmosphere. I realized that the Norwegians accomplished this feeling even when we were living in Syndey, proving that it’s not just a winter feeling. When I would go over to the girls place for a chill movie night during the week, there would be candles, knit blankets from IKEA (they are scandinavian after all), tea and coffee, and chocolate (always chocolate). It was a home away from home.
I decided after that trip to Norway to always aim for that koselig feeling wherever I lived, to make that little extra effort so that my guests would feel comfortable and relaxed; warm and content; koselig.
Here’s where I try to make this blog relevant to what we do at work. There’s a quote I have been trying to live and work by, it sounds a little cheesy but I certainly agree with it; (I’ll paraphrase it a little bit here) People will forget what you said and what you did, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. If I focus on that, and remind myself of those words on a daily basis, it helps me stay focused and present; in work and in life. It’s a work in progress, just like mastering the art of koselig.
I figured it would be good timing to write about this now, as we have had some pretty gray days and it’s easy to feel a bit gloomy when it’s like this. I hope this helps you look forward to winter and Christmas, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.
Dr. Derek Page, DC