Friluftsliv
Camping in Norway, Senja island Photo: © alexpermyakov - Adobe Stock Photo

Friluftsliv

A longing to be outdoors is in the Norwegian DNA. It has a name: 'Friluftsliv'

Orange flames light up our faces and warm our bodies as we settle down by the crackling campfire. We sit in our wool sweaters with a cup of coffee in our hands and a sparkle in our eyes. The fir trees cast long shadows as the evening draws near. We lie down in the heather and watch the stars light up the dark sky. “This is the life!,” we think to ourselves.

This is something you should know about Norwegians: We have a deep and profound yearning for the outdoors. A backpack, sleeping bag, fishing rod, and tent are among our most basic and beloved possessions, and help us live a full life in this remarkably beautiful country. This longing to be outside is part of our national identity, and it has a name: ‘Friluftsliv’, which is a philosophy that captures the importance of connecting with Mother Nature on both a physical and spiritual level and describes a way of life that is spent exploring and appreciating nature. This concept is as important to Norwegians as samba is to Brazilians, the sauna is to the Finns, and pasta is to the Italians. The term was coined by the great playwright Henrik Ibsen, who introduced the concept of ‘friluftsliv’ in his 1859 poem On the Heights.

“Learn to love skiing” was reportedly the advice national hero Fridtjof Nansen gave King Haakon about how he could win a place in the hearts of Norwegians. Why? Because Norwegians are brought up to believe that we will be happier outdoors. Fridtjof Nansen believed it, and our renowned philosopher Arne Næss believed it, too. They both connected ‘friluftsliv’ to our nature, our origin, and to our health and identity.

‘Friluftsliv’ connects us to a previous way of life. Until relatively recently, man was a hunter-gatherer, and in earlier times, we were born in nature and we died in nature. Now, more and more people live in cities, often leading an inactive lifestyle, and our primeval selves are trying to tell us something in the form of a feeling of restlessness and a longing to be outdoors. ‘Friluftsliv’ is the idea that returning to nature is returning ‘home’, so we start studying the map and packing our backpacks. We simply must get outdoors!

A girl who moved to Norway with her family once asked “Where are all the Norwegians on the weekends? We never see anyone around the neighborhood!” The answer: “We are at the cabin or on a family hike.” Every Friday afternoon, you can see cars heading out of the cities, as people head off to their cabins or for a weekend hike. During the summer vacation, we often see more of our neighbors in the mountains than in town. At Easter, more people head out to the wilderness than to the urban shopping streets. It is in the great outdoors we take our best pictures, which are then proudly posted on social media.

This need to be close to nature is deeply embedded in our DNA. And our longing to be outdoors and our passion for nature characterizes the activities we have created for you. We want to show you, and share with you, what we Norwegians love. We hope that you will experience happiness around the campfire or out on the trails, or over a cup of coffee or tea made and enjoyed together in the great outdoors.

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