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A Visual Guide to Koselig

Norwegian koselig

Koselig is key to understanding the behaviour of Norwegians, especially at weekends!

Koselig is the Norwegian schadenfreude. Not in meaning, of course. In fact taking joy from someone else's misfortune is about as un-Norwegian as it gets.

But in terms of a word that just doesn't translate into English, koselig hits the spot. What is it? Good question.

Getting koselig in Norway

It's both a noun (koselig) and a verb (kose). Some say “cosy” is the closest translation, although I'm sure that's only because it sounds similar! To be fair, cosy gets you 80% of the way there. But there's plenty of koselig things that you wouldn't describe as cosy.

So rather than try to find a word, I've decided to show my understanding of koselig using pictures:

Morning tea

Cabin wood burner

One important element to that koselig feeling is an open fire. Many Norwegian homes and cabins have wood burners and you'll see bags of wood for sale all across Norway in the wintertime.

Norwegian sweaters

Coffee and cake

Despite its lack of translation to English, koselig does translate across the Scandinavian borders. In Danish, the word is hygge. Just to complicate matters, hyggelig is also used in Norwegian, but more as a greeting or to convey friendliness – hyggelig å treffe deg means pleased to meet you.

Koselig candles

Scandinavian jumpers

More than anything else, koselig is a feeling: that of cosiness, intimacy, warmth, happiness, being content. To achieve the feeling of koselig, you need koselig things. In darker months, cafes provide blankets on their outdoor chairs, and shops light their entrances with candles.

Back in the home, friends and family are entertained with simple, wholesome food, home-made waffles, and lashings of coffee, all within candlelit rooms. In the mountain cabin, the flask of pølser (hot dogs) are passed around by day, and a flask of cognac is passed around by night.

Camping

Norwegian waffles

Forest cabin

Back in Norway, fredagskos is a thing! Embraced by the food marketing industry to flog frozen pizzas, crisps and “tacos”, fredagskos is essentially the same as “that Friday feeling” of Crunchie fame!

All this got me thinking, what is the typical koselig experience back in the UK? The closest thing I can come up with is enjoying a Sunday roast dinner with family or friends, all sat next to a roaring fireplace in a country pub.

Sunday roast beef ale

Last but not least, pronunciation. Somewhere between “koosh-lee” or “kush-lee” and you're half way there. Took me a while to work that one out! So there you have it ladies and gentlemen: koselig.

Are you a fan of all things koselig? Why not share your love for the Norwegian concept on Pinterest? Here's a pin for that…

Koselig in Norway: Live a more Scandinavian lifestyle with the Norwegian concept of koselig, for warm, simple living.

Photo credits: Jon Olav EikenesTimo ArnallAktiv I Oslo.noStatskog SFyooperannrachel in wonderlandLeo GagglFranklin HeijnenTrevor CoultartShad Reynolds, Jeremy KeithCat

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

16 Comments

  1. A French blogger living in Norway whom I love to read, because it is always fun to see your own culture through someone else’s life, wrote a blog post similiar to this:

    http://afroginthefjord.com/2014/02/02/how-to-make-things-koselig/

    In it she ended up explaining “koselig” sort of like something that gives you a warm feeling inside, she used the term “inner summer”. I thought it was a cute, heart-warming (and koselig!) explanation. (Here is her actual sentence: “It is like an inner summer that Norwegians create for themselves to feel like it’s warm all year long no matter the circumstances.”)

    I recommend her blog, if you like to read others commenting on the quirkiness of our Norwegian ways.

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