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Winter Comfort, Scandinavian Style

Winter Comfort, Scandinavian Style

Over the last few years a few words have migrated into the English language surrounding the holidays. They both have roots in Scandinavian culture and both mean relatively similar things. You’re likely familiar with the first two as they have become quite popular in decor themes surrounding the Holidays.

The Dutch word Gezelligheid (loosely pronounced “Ho-zel-a-phite”) means the cozy feeling of being with family and the happiness one feels when surrounded by joy, love, coziness and warmth…otherwise known as the feeling you get when you stare at a Christmas Tree with a warm cup of hot chocolate in your hands.

The Danish and Norwegian word Hygge (pronounced “Hue-geh”) also means coziness, contentment and feelings of deep joy and wellness. Leave it to the Scandinavians to come up with a word to encompass all of those amazing feelings of the holidays.

Another two relatable (but much less well known) Scandi-words are the Norwegian Friluftsliv (“free-loofts-liv”) and the Finnish word Kalsarikänni (“Call-sar-can-ni”)…and they couldn’t be further from one another in their actions, though they both relate to wellness and happiness.


While Friluftsliv means “open-air-living”, and emphasizes enjoying the outdoors and our connection with nature, Kalsarikänni loosely translates to “Pantsdrunk”.

Yes, it is exactly how it sounds. It is about being totally relaxed and comfortable, drinking at home in your underwear with nowhere else to be.
(I swear this is a real thing – there is even a book coming out about it this year by Finnish journalist Miska Rantanen).

We Canadians can say that we know both well. We spend our winter days deep in Friluftsliv until the lifts close or the sun goes down, and then its a Kalsarikänni free-for-all at Apres in our long johns (which are basically winter underwear).

I think it is safe to say that the Scandinavians would be proud.