We are getting closer to the shortest day of the year, otherwise known as the Winter Solstice. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, we are facing farther away from the sun as we do our silly, spinn-y dance through space.
I actually love this time of year. I love being wrapped in darkness, I love going to bed earlier, I love the dark mornings and sunrises behind fog, mist and frost, I love the holiday lights. I love the cold and bundling in woolens. I love being quieter and spending time with just a few loved ones.
The feelings that elicit my emotion of "love" are what the Norwegians call "koselig" (pronounced "coo-sah-lee" or "coosh-ah-lee"). The Danish call it "Hygge" (pronounced HEW-geh), but that is actually a Norwegian word as well. Koselig roughly translates to "cozy" and Hygge roughly translates to "comfort" or possibly it is derived from the word hugge which means to embrace. You get the gist here.
When you live in countries where it the sun is elusive from October to May, you need something to get through - or even, to ENJOY - the dark and cold. And for that we have koselig.
I just finished koselig-ing my living room. When we first moved into our house 5 years ago, my color pallette for our walls was inspired by the different shades of chicken eggs, so the living room was brown chicken egg. But I haven't liked it. Then on Instagram I saw it: a DARK GREY living room, with a black chimney. I had avoided greys because the Pacific Northwest is similar to Scandi countries in that we spend a lot of time in grey, the sun hidden. I wanted our living room to be warm and koselig! But I couldn't hit on a "warm" color that felt right. Come to find, dark grey feels koselig, WHO KNEW. Especially when you throw around knitted cushions, sheepskin, and tea lights (thank you Ikea)!
I've noticed in my trips to visit my family in Norway that there is something about setting the mood of koselig that also happens through out the year. I don't know what you would call it, but basically what it seems to me is an appreciation of beauty and ritual. An example is my Aunt Ingeborg and Uncle Ola took myself and my husband and daughter on a picnic in the summer, to a beach near their cabin. This was a late night picnic, because the opposite of the darkness of winter there is the brightness of summer and sunset happening after 12AM! Ingeborg and Ola had the food packed up in their little knapsacks, and when we reached the beach they took out a thermos of coffee (because in Norway, you drink coffee all.day.long), and then their BLUE AND WHITE CHINA. No plastic or disposable dishes, NO. It was a beautiful night on a lovely beach with loved ones, and the food and drink should be presented with care. My Aunt and Uncle are not wealthy (though by American standards, having all the benefits of Norway sure feels wealthy!), but they had special things that they took care of. What if instead of access to a large quantity of plastic things from China, we only could collect things with care and thoughtfulness, with attention to the aesthetic impact? Like the feeling of "koselig" there are other feelings that are brought forth by beautiful things. Like Art!
Enjoying and collecting art or artful things isn't just about indulgence or luxury, it's about creating an environment that makes you and your loved ones happy. And if you are happy, or calm, or cozy, or koselig.... then you are more able to contribute to your life and our world.
As usual, the Norwegians got it right.