Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Armita Afshari was the Haliburton Rotary Club exchange student in 1996/97. She lived with my husband and I for her first 4 months in Haliburton and we had so much fun. She was a great ambassador for Denmark and we learned a lot from her. She often told us about “hygge.” Hygge is a Danish word, pronounced "hoo-ga", and is translated into English as "cozyness", but Armita always told us that it was really an attitude towards life. Hygge is about creating cozy situations with friends and family as well as on your own and the Danes believe that is crucial to the well being of the soul. Armita would often tell us we were creating Hygge when we sat down to eat or when we had friends over. In Denmark they have long winter evenings and cool temperature generally and so they value creating times to relax and feel at ease and at home with friend and family, but also on their own. I think it is great concept for us to consider in our winter days, and year round. What are the tiny things we can do to create ease and well being with our families, friends and by ourselves. It could be as simple as a candle lit dinner or building a bonfire and sitting around it. It could involve cooking yummy food together and then sitting to enjoy it. It might involve a soft blanket and a good book. My husband spent the Christmas holidays making ice candles to line our driveway. That was his expression of Hygge. We recently celebrated the birthday of a good friend in a little cabin in the woods. We took simple delicious food, some solar lights and candles, good cake and off we went. Some hiked into the cabin, others skied. We sat by the wood stove and enjoyed the quietude and the lovely conversations. We felt like we could have been anywhere in the world… on a mountain top in Switzerland or in a cabin in the Gatineau. But here we were in Haliburton County having a wonderful cozy adventure. 2 other families with young children were also in the cabin and we really delighted in watching them play and scurry around. The little children made us laugh again and again. In the absence of electricity everything is so quiet, simple and calming. One of the factors that contributes to Hygge is that the space is small. I love that. Small is beautiful. There is ease in the simplicity of the smallness. At a Christmas potluck with my students in December, one of my students brought a delicious homemade cake. We all enjoyed it but she didn’t have a piece. When I asked her why she wasn’t eating she said “my husband and I light a candle every afternoon and sit down together and have a piece of cake together. I will wait to have my cake with him.” She and her husband create Hygge every afternoon - the ritual of being cozy. I am reminded again and again that it is the simple things that fill our souls and make us feel happy, connected and loved. And that is a good thing to remember on these cold winter days when the weather isn’t doing exactly what we would like!