Thursday, November 1, 2012

On "Teach Me How to Hygge"

As it's getting into those infamous dark, cold Danish winter months (Happy November, by the way), and I've been here for two and a half months now, I think it's time.  And maybe also because of a shirt idea that I saw.  It's time, of course, to talk about hygge.

Hygge - it's a noun, it's a verb, it's an adjective.  You can hygge yourself or be hyggelig with friends.  Say it with me: "hygge."  Okay, so, because of the absurd number of Danish vowel sounds, let me help you out "Hoo-ga"...except force that first syllable out like you're also trying to say a y or an e at the same time.

My understanding isn't perfect, as I'm relatively certain it couldn't be if you didn't grow up in these Nordic winters, but I understand enough at this point to talk about it a bit.  And it's such a huge aspect of Danish culture that I would be doing my darling readers a disservice to not talk about it at least a little bit.

Hygge roughly translates to "cozy" in English, and most Northern European cultures have some versions of the same sort of spirit.  It's originally a Norwegian word, though the Norwegian version is more about personal well-being.  And apparently in German, the concept of Gemütlichkeit is pretty similar.

From what I can tell, hygge developed mostly as a reaction to the cold, dark winters.  The basic idea is to take comfort in being home or with close friends.  A hyggelig cafe is one with blankets and big comfy chairs.  And candles.  You cannot have hygge without candles.  One of the Danes that I live with explained that "Staying in with your grandma, drinking tea and watching old movies...that's hygge."  A nice piece of wienerbrød (the Danish word for a danish) and a hot cup of coffee as you curl up with friends - that's hygge.  The night I spent watching Disaster Preppers with my roommate from UR and the Danes who live on her hall -- okay,  probably not hyggelig, but close.

It's all about being warm and happy with the people and things you love as a way to fight off the impending Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it is fundamentally Danish.  And I think that's pretty damn cool.

Gettin' hyggelig with it,
Rachel Leigh

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please let me know what you think!

Project Wonderful