Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hygge, or Cosiness

A few years ago, I went to work in Denmark for several weeks and stayed in a little town called Aabenraa (or Åbenrå), near the German border.

I really liked Denmark. The only thing missing was good Chinese food, and I had to console myself with little red packets of crispy-coated, curry-flavoured nuts*. Ironically, now that I'm in Perth and surrounded by excellent Chinese food, I have a hankering for those nuts and can't find them here.

The Danes are a warm, good-looking, affable people, with sparse, simple houses that are comfortable on the inside and lovely to look at from the outside. They have a word, hygge, that they like to use to describe their way of life. I couldn't find hygge in Wikipedia, so I shall direct you to its German equivalent, gemütlichkeit, which doesn't sound as nice but means the same thing. If you ask a Danish person what hygge means, they'll always say something like "It's like cosiness but not quite," because it also means modest, comfortable, familiar. It's a state of mind, but also a way to describe a place, a situation, a feeling. People often find themselves resorting to examples and anecdotes to illustrate the concept of hygge.

The funny thing is, it's not just the Danes who seek to live in hygge. Increasingly, people all over the world are on the hunt for it too. I don't know if it's a backlash due to years of cold steel and mirrored glass, putting financial success first, and the rise of large faceless corporations, but people are increasingly looking for a sea change, and giving up highly paid corporate jobs to start small businesses or stay home with their families. Martha Stewart and Donna Hay are more popular than ever. Shabby chic is in. People are buying hobby farms in the country, knitting their own scarves, and making their own jam.

When I started actively blogging again, writing my own blog as well as reading other people's, I found a warm community of artists, crafters, and foodies. The Internet was becoming hygge too! For the best examples, do have a look at some of my favourite blogs, Farmgirl Fare, Posie Gets Cozy and Loobylu.

The picture at the top of this post is my little corner of hygge. On top of the chest of drawers in my room is an odd assortment of items from different periods in my life. They now live together harmoniously.

- MFC’s first Christmas present to me, a vase that he bought and filled with glass pebbles (he became alarmed when I started shaking the box to find out what was inside).
- A home-made card from MFC for my 30th birthday**.
- Oliver, a wooden giraffe from the Perth Royal Show. He goes weak at the knees when I squeeze the trigger under his base.
- An antique jewellery box that belonged to my paternal grandmother. She wasn't a very nice lady, but she did have some nice things, and perhaps life made her the way she was. She kept her hairpins in it.
- A small wooden cat with a chipped ear that I bought when I was 7. It was posed under a miniature street lamp with other wooden cats, but it was the only blue tabby, and I was enchanted.
- A crystal dog that was a birthday gift from my ex's mother, a lovely lady who I miss chatting with. She made the best cheese on toast.
- A picture of my mother when she was younger than I am now.
- A statue that MFC bought for me six months after we started going out. His name is Max.

* You are what you eat.

**The sweet pup in the picture is Einstein Pepper Diggs, who belongs to Zapwizard, a very talented photographer and smart cookie who posts great photos on Flickr. Search for "Einstein" in his Flickr page if you'd like to see more pictures. If Zapwizard or anyone who knows him is reading this, I hope it's OK that MFC chose a picture of the funniest, cutest pup he could find to put on my special birthday card! We became big Einstein fans after he made me this card.


Alexiev said...

Great image... cool blog...

an9ie said...

alexiev: Thank you for visiting! I visited your site through Coso de Ilustradores and I like your work very much. So simple, but very expressive.
P.S. The moving eye avatar is a little scary :)