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Each summer, Europe’s Nordic countries—which consistently rank among the world’s happiest—reap the benefits of their geographic position, with daylight stretching into the night. Then, come winter, the opposite is true, and darkness creeps into daytime.

Though people who live in this part of the world aren’t immune to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), they do have a few cultural coping strategies to help them get through the winter. One of these, called “koselig,” comes from Norway, and may be useful in the coming months. Here’s what to know

The similaries between koselig vs. hygge

At this point, you’re probably familiar with the Danish concept of “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-gah”). It took off stateside in 2016 and 2017, but rather than fading away, it became even more mainstream (and arguably, useful) in 2020 and 2021, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, when many people were spending more time at home than usual.

Like hygge, the Norwegian concept of “koselig” (pronounced “koosh-lee”) is often roughly translated as “coziness,” but is also more nuanced than that. Both hygge and koselig center on accepting and embracing winter for what it is (i.e. cold, dark, etc), rather than fixating on or being frustrated about what it isn’t (i.e. warm, sunny, etc). And they’re both rooted in experiencing the present: Even if you’d prefer to skip ahead to the weather a few months in the future.

The differences between koselig and hygge

Although koselig and hygge share several similarities, there are two key differences between the Nordic approaches to winter:

  1. Who: Hygge tends to be about seeking coziness and inner warmth by yourself, while koselig aims to achieve the same outcome through socializing with friends and family.
  2. Where: Hygge typically involves getting cozy indoors, while koselig embraces the cold, with warmly dressed people (in several layers of soft, cozy clothing) gathering outdoors.

Of course, getting up from the nest you’ve made for yourself on the couch and leaving the warmth of your home may not necessarily sound appealing in the winter, but putting in even a little effort may help boost your mood during this dark time of year.



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