I’ve never been particularly excited about this month in the past, but this year, it just seems different. It feels like a big exhale. It feels simpler. So yeah, it’s January, the first month of the new year. It’s cold outside but it’s warm and toasty over here on Topsfield road. I’m sipping some delicious coffee and making a pot of my son’s favorite soup. Annnnd, you guessed it, I’m still in my pajamas. Now before you think, “TMI Chris”, bear with me because I promise it will make sense in a minute.
I discovered a new word recently and I was struck at how much it’s meaning resonates with me. The word is “Hygge”. (pronounced hue-guh) Some of you may know it, it’s a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special. Hygge, while tricky to pronounce is actually a very simple concept. It literally only requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present.
While there’s no one English word or simple definition to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as cosiness, charm, happiness, ‘contentness’, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.
The Danes created hygge because they were trying to survive boredom, cold, dark and sameness, (sound familiar?) especially during their harsh winters. The undefinable feeling of hygge was a way for them to find moments to celebrate, acknowledge and break up the mundane or harsh. With so many cold, dark, days, the simple act of lighting a candle and enjoying a cup of coffee could make a huge difference to one’s spirit. By creating simple rituals without effort (such as brewing real tea with a little china cup every evening to stopping at the flower shop every week) the Danes see both the domestic and personal life as an art form and not every drudgery to get away from. They incorporate hygge into their daily life, so it becomes a natural extension rather than a forced and stressful event.
If you've ever enjoyed reading a book indoors on a rainy Sunday or a cup of hot cocoa on a snow day, you've experienced hygge without even knowing it.
This national obsession with all things cozy is credited as one of the reasons why Denmark is always at the top of the list of the world's happiest countries. And hell, we could all use a little “happy” right about now. We’ve made it through a tough year. We’ve all been beat up a bit. But we’re here, it’s January and a brand new year. It will take some time for things to settle and begin to feel normal again but instead of complaining about the cold weather, politics, or someone who ticked you off on social media, why not light some candles and hunker down with a cup of coffee and that book you've been meaning to read for months. Bundle up and take a long walk on the beach, or just cuddle up with the ones you love under a blanket and enjoy the moment being happy.
Happy New Year!