Europe

Warmth in Winter

10:42:00 AM


I read an article this week in Conde Nast that listed the Top 10 happiest countries in the world, based off the UN's studies for their 2017 Happiness report.  I was not surprised in the least to see Norway listed as #1! There are numerous reports and books focusing on the lifestyle and quality of living in Scandinavia and Denmark.  Have you heard of Hygge?  It's a Danish word that The New Yorker translates as "a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being." Norwegians have a similar word "koselig"!  I personally learned a lot from them about happiness during my short time in Norway, specifically about finding warmth in winter, and I'm not referring to heat.

Picture this.  You're walking down the streets of Oslo, Norway.  It's 18 degrees Fahrenheit, and the sun's hiding behind grey clouds. Not ideal for traveling, but at least as a tourist I have the incentive of getting outside since my time there is limited.  The locals, however, also crowded the streets with shopping, drinking, eating, and walking around like it was spring.  In the States, winter is the slow season for restaurants and shops. Everyone is hibernating I suppose.  I'm sure this could be true in Norway too, but it felt to me like the weather didn't stop anyone!


The restaurants all still had their patios open.  I couldn't believe it!  The seats had blankets draped over them for customers to bundle up with.  Heat lamps or fireplaces were around to provide extra warmth.  Locals sat and enjoyed their coffee or wine still bundled up in their winter coats and scarfs.  And they looked as happy as can be.  

Everything looks cozy and inviting.  Homes have fresh flowers in the windows, and let me remind you it's winter not spring.  Candlelight and gas lamps with open flames light up your menu as you dine.  It provides this glow that makes you feel toasty on the inside!  Bars and restaurants weren't concerned with huge buildings simply to accommodate volume.  They are intimate and small with nooks and crannies.  I wanted to go into literally every restaurant just to sit in the welcoming environment.


In Tromso, during a snowshoe hike, I learned that locals would hike up the fjord for an hour in the morning, enjoy a cup of tea at the top, ski down for 8 minutes, and then head to work.  Now that's a way to start a day! In Oslo, the public transit trains were filled with little kids with sleds and adults with skis heading out up the mountain for the day to enjoy the snowy weather.  People cross-country ski to get from place to place.  Kids have little carts on skis to push their backpacks on and ride to school. Tromso had underground roads and tunnels for driving in the winter, which is much safer than just laying down salt.  The main shopping area had heated sidewalks too to keep ice off it!  They set up life for enjoyment and success for the times of the year that seem bleak to most of us.  

Before I left for my trip, I talked to my friend Leryn who had visited Norway before.  It was exciting to hear her talk about their brown cheese and delicious breads and coffee.  But the thing I remember her saying most was something like, "In Norway they have a saying; there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing." I've tried to approach life and weather this way, with "hygge" and "koselig," and I find you'll discover so much beauty, happiness, and even warmth amidst the most brutal of weather.




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6 comments

  1. This is such a great post! I've never been to the Scandinavian countries but I'm hoping to go there sometime soon ☺

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    1. It's so worth visiting there even though it's expensive. But there are ways to be smart with your money there. And I loved every minute of my time there

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  2. I love this! I grew up in Alaska and definitely so many things shut in the winter and I wish that more things stayed open all year round for us locals to enjoy. We just made out own fun by sledding and such, but it sounds like Norway really knows how to live life. I hope to be able to visit some day!

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    1. Oh! I bet Alaska could use some of their tips on how to live and enjoy winter haha! You should definitely go visit!

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  3. Once again this is a proof that happiness is a state of mind. You can be happy with anything you have. Norwegians are happy with their weather.

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    Replies
    1. It really is a state of mind! If you just change the way you think about certain things, you can find ways to love something new!

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