The Suitcase Lady

Hygge

February 24, 2015, 9:07 pm

March in the north country is known to induce cabin fever and winter doldrums. But these conditions are reversible.

The Danes, Swedes and Norwegians are experts in dealing with winter’s gray days, long nights and chilly temperatures. They consistently rank among the happiest nations on earth.

The Danish word “hygge” has no counterpart in English. The following attempt at a translation is my favorite: ” The essence of hygge is to surround yourself in a warm, cozy atmosphere with people you care about and enjoy something you love.” Having coffee with friends in a favorite cafe, sharing a homemade meal, cuddling up and watching old movies or lighting many candles are all examples of Hygge.

My husband and I practiced hygge even before we knew the word. When nights are frigid and the wind is rattling the house, we pick up our small kitchen table and move it in front of the living room fireplace. As soon as we sit down to eat, a parade of cats comes in and surrounds us. Thoughts of the wretched weather vanish in the warmth.

The Norwegian word “friluftsliv” is literally translated “free life air” and is a philosophy of life in Norway and Sweden. Rather than being tourists viewing nature, the Scandinavians feel connected and part of nature. Going on hikes, spending a month near a lake, river or the sea, feeling the rhythm of the seasons and being at home when away from the bustling material world are viewed as mandatory to well being.

I am in tune with much of the friluftsliv way of life with one big caveat. When it is freezing cold outside and the wind is gusting 30 miles per hour, all I want is hygge…..lots and lots of it.

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