With Christmas just around the corner, its time to take a step back, light some candles, put my favorite nordic psalms on loop, pour something deep red into my wife’s wine glass and enjoy the ambience. Hygge. This non-translatable adjective, or is it a verb?, has made it’s way across the North Sea, baffling and bemusing my countrymen. How can a nation have such a delightful and inclusive word and at the same time produce endless world class dark and sombre TV thrillers? It’s a good point. From November to March, Copenhagen is transformed into one backdrop for the latest murder to be solved by some brilliant, but slightly whacky tv detective. And then some months later these dramatic and scary episodes will be devoured in thousands of homes engulfed in a hyggelig atmosphere. The Danes I know, seem to be at ease whether grappling with melancholic issues to creating secure and welcoming environments. However, when it comes to translating hyggelig to English speaking visitors, it often breaks down into some thing insufficient.
During the 30 odd years of living in Copenhagen, I have been inspired by my Danish colleagues and friends on how to create a positive state of well-being whether it be at my workplace, private sphere or public space. My own offering of this word is simply being aware of the physical environments we invite ourselves and others into and sharing our wine and food, our stories, our love.
To all my readers and fellow bloggers, may you all have yourselves a hyggelig little Christmas.
Photo credits: Phillip Mills