Sunday, October 25, 2009
Hygge is the word for a Danish phenomenon that really makes itself known around this time of year, when the cobblestones are sweaty with perpetual fog and the air manages to be both wet and chilly at all hours. It's often translated to "cozy," but there is no English equivalent. It's covering every available surface in both homes and restaurants in candles and draping blankets over every visible chair, and accepting that the sun has already begun to set at 3:30 in the afternoon (and will only set 5 minutes earlier every day until December) by staying inside, curling up, eating a lot, and, as my mother noticed, drinking heavily.
It really felt like it started while I was in Prague. I think October is when hyggeligt time really kicks into gear, and starting Oct. 30, it becomes Christmas Season in Denmark. I've heard this takes hygge to the next level.
After dropping Mom off at the Metro station to the airport this afternoon, I didn't go back to my apartment. I thought of everything we'd been able to do together over the past week (lots of delightful cafes) and the way she had really noticed how hyggeligt things were and even mastered both the verb and noun usage of the word. I went to Tiger, the local discount store full of what my dad would deem "useless crap" and that my mother and I find charming, and bought a couple of purple candles and glass dishes to put them on. They're burning quite slowly on my desk now, beside a steaming cup of Gypsy Cold Care tea imported by my dear mother to Copenhagen last week, and narrowly avoiding burning my homework into a crisp.
It makes me a bit nervous, that there mustn't be as many smoke alarms in this city as in American ones (given the prevalence of burning tapers in tiny, enclosed spaces). I'm absent-minded. It's worrying to think I might forget to blow these out sometime. But it's Danish, and it's so cozy.