A Christmas greeting from Ambassador Anniken R. Krutnes

Christmas greeting: Ambassador Krutnes, friluftsliv

Photo: The Royal Norwegian Embassy
Ambassador Anniken R. Krutnes.

Royal Norwegian Embassy

Dear readers,

Greetings! It’s a pleasure to be able to use this forum to address you, the Norwegian-American community. As you know, the United States is Norway’s closest and most important ally. The Norwegian-American community is the backbone of the strong relations between our nations.

I began as Norway’s Ambassador to the United States this fall, presenting my credentials to the president in early September. It’s been a very exciting time to be here, especially during the frenetic election season.

But now, as the holidays approach, things are beginning to wind down, at least for a moment. And this year, I think it’s more important than ever this year to take time out to enjoy the holidays, and to embrace a couple of particularly Nordic concepts, friluftsliv and hygge.

Friluftsliv has no direct translation. A decent approximation would be “open-air living.” It is thought to trace its roots to a poem by Henrik Ibsen from 1859.

Friluftsliv is the concept of spending lots of time outdoors, no matter what the weather forecast.

We Norwegians believe in getting outside and moving around, whether on the warmest day of the year or the coldest. We look forward to a day in the rain, a day in the snow or a day on the beach.

As I write this, it’s raining hard in Washington. I won’t let that stop me. Later on I’ll put on my raincoat and go for a walk, because I value getting outside every day—whether for a hike, a bike ride, or a simple stroll to the coffee shop.

This is the sort of thinking behind the quintessentially Norwegian expression, “There’s no such thing as bad weather—just bad clothes.”

The beauty of friluftsliv is that it takes you away from it all. Outside, on a hike, say, you’re away from your computer, your desk, the stresses of everyday life. Your cares tend to melt away.

Science tells us that even spending just a couple of hours outside every week has mental and physical health benefits.

There’s a new craze that’s been sweeping Europe, backcountry randonee skiing, that I hope to be able to pursue this winter. This is skiing off the beaten track. There are special attachments for your skis that help you make your way uphill. You then remove the attachment and schuss your way back down. It’s invigorating, revitalizing and most of all fun.

After a long day on the slopes, it’s time to embrace hygge. Another untranslatable term, but it connotes a certain warmth and coziness, the type of feelings you might have when you’re spending time in a rustic cabin with loved ones. It’s cold and snowy outside, but inside you’re feeling cozy by the fire, with the dim glow of candlelight and the warmth of togetherness lifting your spirits.

Here’s hoping that you and your loved ones have a happy, safe holiday season, spent outdoors in the invigorating, soul-restoring state of friluftsliv, and indoors in the warm, welcoming embrace of hygge

May we all enter 2021 feeling refreshed, with restored energy and vigor to tackle whatever challenges life throws at us. There are good things on the horizon. And when restrictions are lifted, I look forward to visiting all corners of this wonderful country and meeting as many of you as possible.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year—god jul og godt nyttår!

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 11, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.