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It isn’t hard to live a cozy life, especially in Canada. Photo: CC, jill111.

Scotland joins the coziness trend, but might miss the mark

Move over hygge, there’s a new cozy lifestyle in town: cosagach.

A number of lifestyle magazines and trendsetters, such as InStyle, have named the Scottish concept of cosagach as the new trend of 2018. With the massive popularity of the Danish hygge last year, it seems another Northern country wants in on the hype. 2017 was for hygge, but 2018 is all cosagach.

So, it’s frustrating that cosagach isn’t even a real thing.

“Cosagach isn’t a word. It’s supposed to mean warm and snuggly but it sounds like marketing gone mad,” said Randaidh Waugh, a part-time professor of Scottish Gaelic language and culture at the University of Ottawa.

Cosagach is being pushed as the hot new trend by VisitScotland, the country’s tourism board, and it has garnered a fair bit of criticism there, ranging from the obvious fact that all cold countries want to be cozy, to a misappropriation of language. Scottish Gaelic is a living language, but it seems painfully obvious that no native speakers were consulted when the term for this new trend was chosen.

The potential popularity of cosagach stems from the same rampant popularity of hygge in the last few years, with everyone jumping on the Scandinavian comfort trend. However, cold-weather comfort is universal. Nobody really wants to be cold and uncomfortable.

In fact, Waugh believes that Scottish coziness is no different from Canadian coziness. The two countries are similar in geography and climate, so what works in Canada works just as well in Scotland.

The obvious promotional stunt inherent in cosagach isn’t likely to dissuade people, however. Scotland might not conjure up images of warmth and comfort, but there is an obsession with Scotland around the world, ranging from Braveheart and Outlanders to tartans, brogues, and pipe and drum bands. The Scottish people have been tactful at marketing their identity and traditions.

“You take a very, very wild, rustic landscape that still describes Scotland today—the Highlands are not a place for the faint of heart, it’s a rough landscape—you take that, the people, the mysterious clans, the people who came from that world, speaking a mysterious language—Gaelic—and you’ve got something that intrigues people right off the bat,” said Waugh.

In fact, you can get a good amount of Scottish culture without leaving Ottawa. With plenty of highland dancing groups, a Scottish society, several pipe and drum bands, and dozens of piping instructors, you don’t even have to leave Ottawa to enjoy Scottish culture. And if you’re piping in the winter, then you can say you’re living cosagach too.

The U of O even offers a Celtic Studies minor and classes open to all students keen on learning more about the rich culture and language. Waugh said that interest in Celtic society continues to grow, and with the internet, is easier to access.

So, it seems it was only a matter of time before a uniquely Celtic brand of coziness developed. With hygge, people weren’t necessarily buying into a snugly trend but a particularly Nordic lifestyle philosophy. Cosagach is aimed to do the same with Celtic culture.

“I think there’s been a rise in popularity over the last few decades in everything Celtic,” Waugh said. “Scotland has been well packaged, it’s been well-marketed.”

But if cosagach does boost tourism to Scotland, visitors will find a lot to keep them occupied. In fact, the tourism board might have done better in promoting the natural beauty that’s already there.

“If you like nature, if you like the outdoors, (Scotland) has some pretty amazing and spectacular places,” Waugh said. “If you want a mix of the outdoors, some great culture, and some interesting sights to see, you really can’t go wrong, there’s just so many sights.”

So, you still want to live cosagach? Do the same thing you did when you lived hygge: just be a Canadian.