Sunday, October 25, 2009

Get Hygge

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.


  1. It's snowing lightly here in Colorado. I am listening to the Josh Ritter song and watching the sun go down...or rather, feeling the night creep in. The sun is behind the mountains and under the snow.
    Just read a few more of your blog entries. I liked this one best...for its mood.

  2. Hope! we just learned about hygge in my scandinavian culture class and i was really smug the entire time because i had already gotten a detailed description of hygge from one of my most important educators, you!

  3. I love you both so much!
    @Aunt Susan, it sounds very hygge over in Colorado...
    @Niki! SCANDINAVIAN CULTURE CLASS?! That's freaking awesome! But I shouldn't be educating anyone on this culture; I'm not sure I get anything about it yet. <3 Glad it helped, though!