Koselig: how the Norwegians reinvented hygge

Here is how to ignite a war…. between the Norwegians and the Danes. Next time you come across people from Norway and Denmark, together, at the same time and place, and you have their approval to chat (how Nordic!), ask them this: What is better? Hygge or Kos? Hey, wait. Everybody knows hygge, hello! What about that kos? What is it?

Exactly. This is the starting point of the debate between the two Nordic people. Hygge is from Denmark. But they say that the word originates from old Norwegian, then borrowed by the Danish language. So, they both mean the same? Something like cozy? But who has the best cozy concept? Norway or Denmark? Scroll to the end of the story for a diplomatic answer.

Read on to find out about the Norwegian concept of koselig & how it differentiates from the Danish hygge.

The basics

First things first, this concept has both a noun (kos, pronounced like koos or cush) and a verb (kose meaning to do kos). It cannot be directly translated into English (or any other language) but it can loosely mean cozy, intimate, warm, together. It is a concept similar to hygge (maybe exactly the same at its core). The Norwegians also have hyggelig in their language but they use it to express a greeting or friendliness, like in “nice to meet you”. There is also a debate whether hygge indeed comes from Norwegian or Danish. It doesn’t really matter as both languages are so close to each other. Off to do some kos now!

The koselig checklist

Let’s make it a game. For every point checked, you get koselig points. Norwegians will appreciate it if you gather as many as you can. Even as a foreigner, it is worth the try and Norwegians will feel grateful (and a little proud of you).
– low light (preferably by lamps) 2 points
– candles (as many as you can) 3 points
– fire (a fireplace will not be hard to find anywhere in Norway) 4 points
– turn off electronic devices (yes, all of them, including TV, phones, tablets, laptops, anything buzzing with notifications) 3 points
– music (relaxing tunes at low volume, hard metal are for the Finns) 2 points
– warm drinks or booze to get warm (coffee or cognac) 4 points
– simple food (nothing pretentious, as wholesome as possible) 2 points – sweets (homemade waffles, including homemade berry jam) 4 points
– blankets, pillows and other fluffy stuff (whatever around in the house, nothing particular) 2 points

Should you get less than 20 points and the koselig feeling may be lost!

Koselig is perhaps hygge 2.0

Don’t tell this to a Dane but Norwegian kos is perhaps like the Norwegians took hygge, adapted it to their own country and lifestyle and made it as close to “friluftsliv” as possible. Yup, living in the open air, actually expressing their love for being in nature and their hytte. Yes, kos means being together with beloved ones, present in the moment, enjoying precious moments with them, while eating, drinking, chatting, playing. Well, add the following to the recipe and you got it:

– more outdoors and in nature: Norwegians love being outside, even in winter, doing skiing or cross country skiing, then going back to the cabin to get warm, eat, drink and have fun.

-simpler: we can imagine hygge in a nice Scandinavian minimalistic house or flat. But we can imagine kos in a wooden mountain cabin (they call it hytte), that usually has no amenities and just the basics (running water, fireplace, basic furniture, toilet in the great outdoors).

– more casual: food is probably more everyday junk food like chips, tacos and dips, sausages and the likes.

So, whenever you get asked which you prefer (hygge or kos), simply say that both have their charm and are an amazing experience, depending on the location one is: city or countryside. You will get both Norwegians and Danes pleased and happy!