Comforting Nordic Concepts to Get Through the Last of Winter


The Nordic countries of Northern Europe know a thing or two about staying warm and cozy, both inside and out.

Despite having some seriously harsh winter weather – temperatures dipping to below -20° C (-4° F) with only a few hours of sunlight in the arctic reaches – Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland consistently rank in the top 10 happiest countries in the world, according to the  World Happiness Report,  with Finland taking the No. 1 spot  four years running.

The five Nordic nations each have their own special words that signify contentment. Practicing them in daily life is a big part of their cultures.

From the looks of it, icy temps could hit the entire Northern Hemisphere for just a bit longer, as earlier this month in the United States, Punxsutawney Phil, the namesake rodent who emerges every Groundhog Day in Pennsylvania,  predicted  six more weeks of winter by seeing his shadow.

Below are some Nordic philosophies to help make the most of dark days and cold nights until spring finally arrives.

Denmark – hygge

Probably the most well-known, the Danish term hygge, which loosely translates to a feeling of coziness, celebrates cherishing the little things in life – being surrounded by family and friends, eating warming foods, drinking a cup of tea or mulled wine by the fire. It is all about togetherness and gratitude for simple pleasures.

Norway – koselig

The Norwegian koselig is also all about companionship and sharing social time with loved ones but adds another element – nature. Even when the weather is cold, spending time outdoors, perhaps covered in wool blankets and around a fire or walking in the woods outside a cabin, induces a sense of well-being.

Sweden – mys

The Swedish mys places importance on rest and relaxation – taking the time to slow down and again enjoy the little things such as meeting a friend for coffee, reading a good book or watching the snow fall from a window seat. It also revolves around food, particularly junk foods and chocolate, to take a calming break from the cold and daily life.

Iceland – þetta reddast

Often thought to be the national Icelandic motto, þetta reddast loosely translates to “it will all work out in the end.” Both an attitude and a lifestyle, it instructs to not sweat the small stuff and leads to a laid back, carefree lookout on life. In a land of volcanoes and volatile weather, it is a call to not take the negatives too seriously while focusing on the positive.

Finland – kalsarikännit

Possibly the easiest to carry out, the Finnish term kalsarikännit, literally “pants drinking,” means drinking at home in your underwear with no intention of going out. The word’s happiest country stays that way by having fun at home when it is too cold, whether in underwear or sweatpants. The premise is simply to be comfortable and enjoy yourself.

For more ways to get cozy, check out the “Snuggle Up” product spread in the  fall 2021 issue  of Luxury Portfolio magazine.