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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Photo credits: Jon Olav Eikenes, Timo Arnall, Aktiv I Oslo.no, Statskog SF, yooperann, rachel in wonderland, Leo Gaggl, Franklin Heijnen, Trevor Coultart, Shad Reynolds, Jeremy Keith, Cat
9 thoughts on “A Visual Guide to Koselig”
I like to see things about Norway a place where I have family. They I have only met on line. Some are Norway. Songne as well as Kristiansund. It is good to see pictures of Norway.
I love Norway. Keep a postcard of Lillihamer on my fridge. Warmly wear my sweater bought in Bergen in the winter. Have many other memories & photos. Did not enjoy the “alpine” type skiing tho. Too icy. Can I come back÷).
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:
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.
thank you!very helpfull and trully good felling!
I love Norway!
You need to add a picture of a “kose katt” (a Norwegian cat would be best!, like this one:
A much needed explanation. One word translation cannot suffice for this whole concept/phenomenon/feeling of koselig 😁
I ❤️ Norway!
Nice article with some good examples! Just a tiny grammar thing: ‘koselig’ isn’t a noun, it’s an adjective.
Koselig could be translated to Dutch too! We call it ‘gezellig’ and it describes the exact same feelings as you did in your article 🙂