In Search of Koselig

In Search of Koselig

It’s funny to me, as a Scandinavian only two generations removed from a life of farms and fjords, to see certain Scandinavian terms permeate both American culture and design – funny mainly because they’re all concepts I grew up with but never put a name to. My grandfather might have stopped speaking his native language quickly after arriving, but he still brought the concepts with him. One of our family favorites is the fika, a dedicated coffee hour.

The other is the concept surrounding the inner soul-warming contentment you can get from gathering together with loved ones, snuggling up in fuzzy blankets in firelight, and nourishing your happiness. A feeling described by the Danish hygge {hy-OO-geh}, the Swedish mysig {MEE-sig}and Norwegian koselig {KOOS-uh-lee}. The closest translation in English is “cozy,” but think of cozy with a particular flavor of winter evening warmth and joy.

If you wrestle at all with the winter blahs or winter blues, this is a great concept. In America, winter is often treated as something that you just have to get through and survive. In Norway and Sweden, where winter is instead something to look forward to and embrace, largely because of all the opportunities for cozy gatherings, there are far fewer instances of seasonal depression.

So let’s talk about ways to embrace winter and celebrate the season instead of just trying to survive it. Here are our suggestions for filling your home with koselig this winter!

10 Ways to Make Your Home Cozy This Winter

1. Warm up with a hot drink, a hearty red wine, a delicious stew, or a crusty baguette. Preferably, all of the above. Cozying up your insides is an important part of enjoying the winter months. Don’t worry, a round or two of Insanity, a good running regimen, and maintaining an otherwise balanced diet will keep you from adding permanently to your, ahem, insulation.

2. Light candles or make a fire. There’s just something primal about gathering around a fire. There are some parts of our biological programming that we should work to overcome, but the deep-in-the-soul warmth you can get from cozying around a fire with friends is not one of them.

3. Talk about the good things the weather brings. You can really bring yourself down if you talk about just “getting through” or “surviving” the winter. Winter brings a lot of great things with it as well. Fireplaces. The holidays {seriously, there is really no major religion who doesn’t have a wonderful celebration this time of year}. Skiing, snowshoeing, sledding – name your snow sport. Thinking about the positive can go a long way toward shaping your winter attitude.

4. Turn on some music. For me, this time of year is all Big Band and Swing and plenty of Rat Pack. Bouncy, brassy, bright, and cheery. Chances are this season, if you need me, I’ll be dancing in the kitchen along as Frankie and Dino and Sammy croon.

5. Break out your skis, snowshoes, or just go for a winter hike. I know we talk about houses and home improvement a lot around here, but I hope we also spend a lot of time talking about the health benefits of getting out into nature. Get outside, breathe some fresh air, and bring nature back home with you. It does wonders for your spirits.

6. “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.” One of my grandfather’s favorite sayings, and after growing up learning to not only survive but enjoy Scandinavian winters, he would know. Dress for the weather. Go treat yourself to something warm you can cuddle up in when you’re feeling the air.

7. Indulge in some sweet treats. Kos is all about being kind to yourself. My parents both become slightly obsessed with chocolate in the winter, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s our heritage. I’m not much of a chocolate fan, but when it comes to hot chocolate, bring it on! Mine may or may not have a dose of Swedish vodka or Baileys in it.

8. Bake cookies. Nothing makes a house feel more homey than the smell of baking butter and sugar permeating the air. I will always bake cookies before I show one of my houses.

9. Stay home with friends. ‘Tis the season to enjoy a night in. Instead of going out and stressing over how to get where, how many layers you’ll have to check somewhere, and how much it’ll cost, invite a bunch of friends over for a night of wine, chocolate, and board games.

10. Linger. This is often the hardest one to do or to get people to do, but an important part of this mindset is enjoying what you have. And sometimes, that means stopping to smell the roses. Or glögg.

How do you guys make your house feel cozy in the cold months?

  • Love this! I’ve been looking into all things “hygglig” since we booked our Christmas babymoon to Copenhagen a couple weeks ago! We cannot wait.

    • Oh wow, what a wonderful time to enjoy Denmark!! Wrap yourself up in all the cozy and write it up after because I’d love to see what you discover there!!

  • Oh, I think I needed this post. I’m having some motivation challenges with the colder weather and it’s harder now to get myself up and out to get to the gym in the morning or out for a run, but there really is so much to embrace in the winter months. I think I need to create for myself a warming up ritual post-run or gym adventure to make the old a little more bearable.

    • I still find that the simple joys do wonders for warming you up and making you look forward both to the cold and coming in from the cold. After we go for a hike or after showering up post run/gym, I love to just take a moment and sit with a cup of hot chocolate. Sometimes with Baileys Vanilla, sometimes just plain chocolate. And I’m trying to learn to appreciate warm cozy light instead of giving into my impulse to turn on every light in the house!