Let me tell you something. You know NOTHING about Norwegian culture until you comprehend the complex, layered connotation and denotation of the Norwegian word koselig. The literal translation is usually “cozy.” I’ve also seen “comfortable,” “homey,” and “snuggly” used. It’s pronounced kind of like KOOSH-lay. Norwegians have cornered the market on koselig. They are koselig masters, koselig experts.
You know how I mentioned that it gets pretty dark and pretty cold here? Ahem. REALLY dark and REALLY cold? Well, instead of falling into depressive slumps every year from November to March, or moving to Hawaii, Norwegians have “made do” like only Norwegians can. That’s one of my favorite things about Norwegian culture – they know how to buck up and work with what they have. So they were like, “Hey, what can we do with this cold, dark misery that is Arctic winter?” and THAT, my friends, is when the candle was invented.
Okay, not really. But seriously, you can’t have a koselig time without candles. So Norwegians use them all the time, but especially in winter. They use little votives and big pillar candles and slender tapers in elegant candelabra. Everyone has these special Christmas candle stands, like, everyone. Some houses literally have one in every single window. So you run from your car into your friend’s house, or a cafe, and it’s all warm and snuggly in there, with candles lit and maybe a fire blazing, hot things to drink and definitely good things to eat. (For example, Norwegians love vafler, waffles, when enjoying a koselig evening…they’re not like Belgian waffles, they’re thinner and floppier. Glob on some jam and a little sour cream, fold in half, and enjoy!) Candles, warmth, hot drinks, sweet treats, and even cozy music are all essential to the koselig experience. And if you’re with people you love, and who love you, well man, that’s koselig on top of koselig!
So if you want to feel Norwegian this winter, pull down the shades to block out that blazing Californian sun, light some candles, grab a cup of hot cocoa and some horse meat (ha! I mean, waffle) and think of me.
Next time: the beauty of Swedish fika.