I recently learned of a cultural tradition that, more than anything, I would love to see become a permanent fixture at Boulder Estates…in our dining room, in the lobby, in the Quarry and in your apartments. New to me, Hygge [pronounced Who-Guh] is an age-old Danish tradition of grace-filled hospitality.
Hygge is an atmosphere, an attitude, and an environment. It’s a state of mind. Often mistranslated into English as “cozy”, hygge is a concept that evokes “coziness” but is so much greater than that. Coziness relates to physical surroundings — a sweater can be cozy, or a warm bed — whereas hygge has more to do with people’s behavior towards each other. It’s an encounter. A connection. It is the art of creating intimacy: a sense of comradeship, conviviality, and contentment all rolled into one. Hygge is generous hospitality, real kindness, simple comfort and engaged conversation. It provides winter warmth like nothing else can and the Minnesota climate cannot penetrate it.
Unbeknownst to me, Hygge goes a long way in illuminating the Danish soul. In essence, hygge means creating a pleasant, friendly and warm atmosphere. Hygge gives you time and place to focus on, and enjoy, everything that is good in life–with good people around you. The comforting warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family around you – that’s hygge too. And of course, good food and drink is always included. Hygge is sitting around the table for hours on end discussing the big and small things in life. It is not casual conversation about the weather or “Minnesota Nice”, but honest, deep and real conversation. Hygge is listening intently and caring deeply. Hygge encompasses humility and is other-centered. Perhaps the Danish idea of hygge explains why the Danes are often considered the happiest people in the world? Certainly, the concept of hygge often runs counter to the way of like in the United States.
Hygge didn’t originate in the Danish language but in Norwegian, where it meant something like “well-being.” It first appeared in Danish writing around the end of the 18th Century and the Danes have embraced it ever since. One good thing about hygge is that you can apply it anywhere. It is the one thing that I wish would pervade Boulder Estates in the coming new year.
Hot cocoa. Hand-made afghans. Strong coffee. Flannel. Friends. Family. All Hygge! It’s time to get warm, embrace your inner Dane, and – now that we have a name for it – look for hygge in everything and everywhere. And if you fail to find it I challenge you to do everything you can to create it. I wish that I could put it on the menu, but it is up to each and every one of you to create it. It lives in our heart and mind. It stirs the soul within each of us.
Sorry Danes, but I never knew you were so cool!!!
Happy New Year friends!