As of late, it’s a bit difficult to say ‘good morning,’ because the mornings are neither literally or metaphorically quite so bright. We begin our days in pitch-black darkness with bad weather conditions. Apart from the general woes, we all have our own set of issues in life. It’s no coincidence that statistically the winter months see the highest rate of depression. Alright, so let’s look at the world’s happiest country. Yes, the Danes. Let’s leave their extraordinary governmental infrastructure aside for a moment, and focus on people who live through long winters where seventeen hours in a day are spent in darkness. Despite all this, they are happy. And I mean really happy. Because they have hygge.
This word, which only exists in Danish and has been subject to attempted translation due to a recent popularity in other countries, actually describes a mood. The positive mood conjured by being in a favorable indoor setting away from the cold and darkness outside.
Eating homemade cinnamon cookies in front of a fireplace surrounded by people we love, or listening to our favorite records and eating long dinners at candlelit tables with lots of laughter while the snow falls outside… Of course the tranquil feeling created by candlelight is an essential. Keywords such as sincerity, naturalness, simplicity and coziness are all present. As much as hygge represents sharing, I believe we can carry its meaning to all things that are good for us in our individual lives. Just like those 1.5 months that I very happily spent under my warm covers due to an illness with my books and films, when everyone else was convinced I was miserable!
Undoubtedly, the main issue is the ability to integrate these small joys into our everyday lives. We say ‘times are tough,’ ‘there’s no time,’ ‘there’s too much work.’ But believe me there are also too many excuses. Either way, finding space for the rituals that bring us joy in our lives should be our number one priority. This time around, say yes instead of no to that dinner invitation, or even better invite all the people you love, cook some pasta, light those candles, and put on some nice music.
Perhaps in this difficult geography, which we inhabit, we have to grasp these natural joys more than the Danes whose wellbeing are high.
Wishing you a winter that feels like home,
PS: Thank you to Berna and Çiğdem for the very hyggeligt evening yesterday.