Friluftsliv translates as ‘fresh-air life’ or 'open air living."
It helps keep Nordic people happy in long winters.
A Way of Life
"Friluftsliv" means a commitment to celebrating time outdoors, no matter the weather forecast. “It’s the most natural thing for me because I’m Norwegian,” says Alexander, who documents their father-daughter journeys on Instagram.
Norwegian friluftsliv offers an alternative, full of cold-hardy inspiration for a frigid time of year. Like the cabin-cozy word hygge, which spurred a worldwide run on candles and fuzzy blankets, it’s proof that mindset can transform the way we experience our world.
“Friluftsliv is more than just an activity, it’s a kind of lifestyle,” says Lasse Heimdal, secretary general of Norsk Friluftsliv, an organization representing 5,000 outdoors groups in Norway. “It’s very tied to our culture and what it means to be a Norwegian.”
Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen is generally credited with inventing the term in the 1859 poem “On the Heights,” which recounts a farmer’s yearlong trek through the wilderness. By the end of the poem, the protagonist ditches civilization for good.
But Heimdal says friluftsliv isn’t just for hard-core athletes and intrepid explorers. Friluftsliv can also mean long strolls with friends, picnics, a leisurely afternoon bike ride, or walking the dog on a chilly morning. There’s even a special word, utepils, for drinking a beer outdoors. “Most people think it’s healthy, it’s social,” Heimdal says. “You get kind of a time-out from cell phones and computers … being outdoors and in nature, it’s one of the best places to relax.”
from "What is ‘friluftsliv’? How an idea of outdoor living could help us this winter," by Jen Rose Smith, 9/11/2020