My next post was to be about writing Artist Statements (since I have one I really, really, really need to complete), but if you have followed me for a while you know my mind works like the golden retriever Dug in the Pixar movie, Up – “Squirrel”!
Instead I am going to continue my ongoing series, The Library Stack, sharing my latest stack of borrowed books from my beloved local public library and talk about something dear to my heart: the Danish concept of Hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”).
Here is the latest stack of library books:
This stack currently contains the book – The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking
and How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life by Signe Johansen.
The latter book is not in the library stack photo which was taken a couple days ago; I recently picked it up from the library.
You may already be familiar with the concept of “hygge”, however bear with me as I share some of the cool things I learned.
Meik Wiking (The Little Book of Hygge) refers to hygge as “coziness of the soul”. It is “about atmosphere and am experience, rather than about things…it is about being with people we love…a feeling of home…a feeling that we are safe…shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down…”
Signe Johansen (How to Hygge) defines hygge as: “a Danish/Norwegian word that translates as a feeling of cosiness…it can also mean kinship and conviviality…hygge is about being sociable and look outward; it’s about taking pleasure in the simple things in life…”
Meik Wiking (The Little Book of Hygge) states that the hygge experience has ten components (The Hygge Manifesto):
- Atmosphere (candles!)
No wonder, based on international surveys, Denmark is one of the happiest countries on earth! (Norway is #1 and Denmark is #2 – Where are the world’s happiest countries? CNN.com)
In his book, Meik Wiking provides wonderful examples and details in achieving these hygge related experiences. His book includes tips, recipes, and suggested activities and experiences to bring a feeling of hygge into your life.
Signe Johansen’s book (How to Hygge) takes a similar approach but presents the material in the different format. She shares many essays about hygge experiences and strategies to incorporate a sense of hygge in your life by creating a feeling of coziness in your home, using candles, board game nights with family and friends, making delicious healthy satisfying foods and spending plenty of time outdoors.
I am still reading through both of these books, there are so many gems of wisdom and wonderful ideas in these two books. There is also a lot of reinforcement and affirmation of the choices I have made on how I live my life. Basically my life has a lot of hygge in it!
One of my new favorite words (I would slaughter the pronunciation if attempted) is “hyggekrog” which Meik Wiking describes as “a nook…a place in the room where you love to snuggle up with a blanket”. For me that would be a quilt and here is my “hyggekrog”:
I love Denmark, it is one of my most favorite places I have ever visited.
I first visited Denmark in the summer of 1998 and stayed with my friend Torben (my “Danish brother”) and his parents in their lovely home outside of Copenhagen. I returned to Denmark for a visit in 2004, this time bringing Terry the Quilting Husband to experience this wonderful country and we stayed with Torben and his future wife.
I definitely had a hygge immersion experience visiting Denmark. Although it was August, during my first trip to Denmark, Torben’s mother made Christmas dinner so I could experience Danish Christmas! The Danish-Christmas-in-August experience included board games after dinner and lots and lots of family fun (even a family “floor show”)!
During my first trip I of course had the required tourist experiences such as seeing The Viking Museum, Tivoli and Nyhavn. I also got to rollerblade for the first time, tour the country on an exceptional road trip, bike ride to a castle (only in Europe would you have a castle outside your suburban neighborhood) and many other wonderful experiences. The Danish people were so friendly and I felt so welcome. I sort of felt like I was “home”.
One of my most memorable Danish experiences was going sailing with Torben and his brother in a handmade wooden sailboat in August 1998!
These photos were before the days of smart phone photos so these images are scans of the original hard copy photos I have scrapbooked (as part of my minimalism journey I got rid of all loose photos – they are either scrapbooked, in a frame on display or discarded – no more boxes of photos!)
A random bit of info to close out this post – Meik Wiking (The Little Book of Hygge) lists the items that Danes associate with hygge, here are the top 10:
- Hot drinks
- Board Games
- Holiday (vacation)
- Sweets and cake
I think the fact that Torben’s family had Christmas for me in August while I visited confirms just how much Danes enjoy Christmas!