As we start a new year, let’s get koselig!

Finding winter warmth the Norwegian way

Photo: Ulf Reinhall
Editor-in-chief Lori Ann Reinhall gets koselig with the latest issue of The Norwegian American.

Dear readers and friends,

By the time you receive this message, Christmas will be over, all your festive decorations will have been put away, as another new year begins. Traditionally, the new year is a time for setting new goals with New Year’s resolutions. I, for one, have always liked this idea of looking forward and starting fresh.

Granted, this past year has not been an easy one, as the world grapples with two major wars and serious economic challenges. I have heard from many of you that it has affected you personally, and we share your pain.

We have also seen rising costs here at the newspaper and are doing our best to keep our quality up while not raising our subscription prices for you. At the same time, we are so grateful for the extra support that many of you have shown to us. In some cases, this has been support in the form of donations, and in other cases, it has been a kind word of appreciation. Our team cannot thank you enough. It is so rewarding to us to hear that you enjoy our publication and can take comfort in it.

Let’s get koselig!

This month, our issue is all about hunkering down and getting cozy—let’s get koselig! Many of you live in northern climates, and there is much to learn from the Norwegian concept of “kos” in the wintertime. And for those of you in southern climes, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy this wonderful Norwegian way of life.

What does it mean to be koselig? The word itself translates to “cozy,” but I and many others would maintain that the concpet of kos is something uniquely Norwegian.

One of my favorite Norwegian authors, Knut Faldbakken, has said, “Coziness is Norway’s most important and most representative contribution to world culture”—and I quite agree.

There are others cultures that have their own feelings for life, but somehow they are not quite as koselig as in Norway. In neighboring Denmark, they do hygge, and in Sweden, there is the concept of mys. The Germans and Austrians may have their Gemütlichkeit, but all of these neighboring concepts don’t seem to be really quite the same. And all Norwegian Americans know that there is something truly unique about the koselig way of life.

Getting koselig is that knack for making the most out of what you have, often with very simple but powerful means. On a winter’s day, it’s sitting in front of a crackling fire with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book or putting on your hand-knitted hat and mittens and going for a walk or ski in a snowy-white winter wonderland. It’s watching a good movie with your family and friends or simply getting together for good cup of coffee, a heart-shaped waffle, and a good chat. It’s about making the most of the moment. You will read all about this in this issue.

We need to talk

While putting this issue together, it hit home that we all need to connect with one another more often—not just online but in person as well. I love this newspaper and hope that it brings a lot of kos to your lives, but I also hope that you will get together with friends and colleagues in 2024 to talk and share ideas.

I 100% agree with our guest contributor Helga Eggebø (see Why waffles make a difference) that doing this over a cup of coffee and a freshly baked waffle is one of the best ways to do this. There are many places in the Nordic community to gather: in Minneapolis, there is the Kaffebar at Norway House, in Seattle, we have the National Nordic Museum, and throughout the country, there are Sons of Norway lodges and the seamen’s churches (the latter well-known for its waffles). You’ll be surprised what will come out of the conversations you will have.

Delays, patience, and kindness

Finally, I want to say a few words about the patience and kindness so many of you have shown to us during the holiday season. Unfortunately, we experienced some serious delivery delays with the U.S. Postal Service in November, problems that are out of our control. We understand your frustration, and are doing everything we can to mitigate this situation, including adjusting our production cadence and implementing online e-issues, so you can enjoy the new issue while you are waiting to receive your print copy. Thank you again for your understanding.

At that, I wish you a very happy, koselig New Year and many hours for happy reading!

This article originally appeared in the January 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.