Part 1: Hygge = cosiness
Whilst searching for blogging stories during my break I came across a story on Danish parenting and families which to me encapsulates all that we as homemakers are trying to do, but perhaps the Danes have the best word for it:
The word hygge dates back to the 19th century and is derived from the Germanic word "hyggja" which means to think or feel satisfied. There is no English word for Hygge (pronounced "hooga"), but here is one explanation of what it means:
“the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things”.
Hygge relates to cosiness, homey, snug, comfortable, togetherness, family, connectedness. It is about creating the right atmosphere in the home where families and friends come together, leaving the dramas of the world behind, including family feuds and disagreements to create a safe, warm place for all. In short it is a drama free environment from the outside world.
Denmark is regularly voted one of the happiest countries in the world and perhaps this is why. Danes grow up with the concept of hygge and feel much more connected to each other than perhaps we do. When feeling connected within one's family, one feels secure, loved and care for and in turn it improves our health and well-being. Hygge is all about "we" time and not about "me" time and we certainly need far more of that in our society which is strongly driven be "me".
I know many bloggers aim to create homes to that are cosy, warm and inviting and I think the concept of hygge is what they are aiming for. Did you know that the Danes burn more candles per head than anywhere else in Europe — it is all part of creating the right atmosphere in their homes. Food is another part of hygge because as we all know — food is a great way of bring people together. This concept is used in Denmark for new mothers so they can learn mothering skills with other women in a non-threatening environment where mothers are not judged and can feel completely safe.
Here are five rules of hygge (source):
1. Come as you are: Be yourself. Your real self. Let your guard down. Trust. You won’t be attacked on hygge turf and you won’t attack others in turn. When we strip ourselves of trying to prove something we can all connect in a much more real way. Competition (boasting or pretense) and trying to be in the spotlight are not bonding but rather subtly dividing.
2. Forget the controversy: If your topic is too personal and serious, divisive or controversial it probably isn’t hyggeligt. Hygge is about a balanced ebb and flow of discussion in a lighthearted way. The focus is the moment and being in the moment. We have plenty of time in our everyday lives to argue and debate and experience drama but hygge is about enjoying the food, the company and not getting caught up in things that take away from that. Thus, complaining, heavy negativity, judging and arguing are not allowed in the hygge space.
3. Think of yourself as a team member: Everyone sees what they can do to contribute without being asked. This makes the whole team flow better and no one gets stuck doing all the work. This adds to the ability to feel the moment because it flows as one. When everyone works together in preparing, serving, pouring and conversing then hygge is in full bloom. But everyone has to understand that they are part of that team. The key is-this is “we time” not “me time”.
4. See hygge as a shelter from the outside: Hygge time is about providing a temporary shelter from social climbing, networking, competition and materialism. A place where everyone can relax and open their hearts without judging, no matter what is going on in their life. For better or for worse, this place is sacred and problems can be left outside. This is special because it allows for families and friends to always be able to connect in this space without fear of judgment.
5. Remember it is time limited: Making hygge can be challenging for a non-Dane. No one taking centre stage, no one bragging or complaining, no one being too negative and everyone trying to be present without arguing? This is hard to do for a lot of families! But the payoff is enormous. It feels incredible to share these drama free moments with those you care about. If you realize that it is only for a dinner or a lunch or a limited period of time, it makes it much easier to really try and enjoy that moment. Your drama and problems will be waiting for you outside hygge’s door when you leave. But for a little while they can wait outside for the sake of something bigger.
Life isn't perfect in Denmark and they have many of the same problems we do in the rest of the world — they still have domestic and family violence (often associated as a result of alcohol consumption), but as a society things like crime is considerably lower in Denmark compared to the USA. And we know from a number of studies, the Danes often rank number one for happiness and contentment compared to other nations, so their concept of hygge must be working to some extend.
Next week I will look at ways we can create HYGGE in our homes