Follow by Email

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hygge - we don't have to name it to have it

The world has been shrinking for a long time. Beloved customs and traditions of a culture have been shared, adopted, adapted, modified and even corrupted as they move around the globe. I have been thinking about this today, in regard to hygge.

Hygge (koselig, mysigt in Norwegian and Swedish) is a thing in the Scandinavian countries. And it is, so it seems, becoming a thing elsewhere in the world as well. There have been articles about it in the NY Times as well as a spate of books published recently. And from my recent perusal, it seems that this (to me) most natural of things, when coming to the USA, is taking on a distinctly capitalist slant, much the way the "simple living" movement did in its day.

 Hygge, if you have not yet encountered the term, was described in a comment in a friend's blog:
It’s all about creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere in your own space and/or a good and positive atmosphere with the people you are with and the presence of mind to take notice of the things and people around you. It’s about creating a space where you are comfortable and safe, with things and happenings you find beautiful, joyful and enjoyable. 
 To me, nothing there says "Go! Spend money! Shop!" although I supposed, given the commerce-o-centric mindset of many of my contemporaries, that might be a common take away.

I was thinking about this today as I drove through a light snowfall on my errands: taking trash and recycles for disposal, visiting a friend, hauling hay. Trash and recycles are a monthly
Artie, the old farm
truck with 4 studded
snow tires, considers
the driveway.
thing, just prior to the dark (new) moon and disposing of them allows space for abundance to flow into my life, and this was the last day of the moon cycle to accomplish this task. My old farm truck did its job and I was safe on the road, warmed by his heater and happily carried out my ritual, visit and returned with hay for the goats, in advance of what may be a week to 10 days of actual winter weather here in the Northlands. I would hazard a guess that I was not only feeling hygge, but my trip was building more for the future. And yes, there was money involved (you don't get good hay for a smile and a promise of future milk), but not in the sense that many of those who are working to monetize the concept would have us believe is necessary.

My first awareness of hygge, as I think back through my life, was around Christmas time, though I was only in WA state at the time and not in the far northlands. I was living in a 12x16 cabin with no utilities, a couple of kero lamps and a tiny formerly coal furnace that I was feeding with gathered wood. Snow was falling and night was, as well. I had recently hauled water from the
Carrots from this
year's garden.
creek and my supper of some of the last of the gleaned carrots and potatoes from my friends' garden were simmering on the stove with an onion and a bit of a bullion cube for flavor. I poured a bit of the ice cold water into a crystal goblet (the last remaining of a set handed down in the family), threw another handful of wood in the stove and felt that, at that moment, in that time and place, life was perfect. Yes, I had on wool socks and sweater and was sitting on a hand made quilt (according to the writers, all are important aspects of hygge) but all were second hand. I didn't call it hygge. I didn't call it anything. Heck, at that point in my life, just starting on the spiritual path that has led to evolving into a crone and volva, I didn't call it anything either!

I firmly insist that, while having names for things does make it easier to talk about them, and much easier to sell them, they do not have to have names in order to exist. And while the Danes seem to take as much pleasure from talking about hygge and from experiencing it, I am not sure it's necessary.

And I AM sure that going out to buy stuff specifically with the intent of invoking hygge is counter-productive, and pretty sure that the consumer-oriented folks, for whom "newer-better-faster" is a mantra, for those who put more stock in "the latest," be it a food trend, an item of clothing or whatever, will never find it.

Some things can't be bought.

For a sweater, sweatshirt, shawl, shirt or dress to become a favorite, it has to have been around for a while. One or two seasons just doesn't cut it, in my world, at least. It need to have accompanied you on adventures, absorbed feeling of wonder and success from those adventures. It must, through those shared memories, wrap you in love and good will, as much as warmth. That's hygge in my world.

And that cup from which you drink your coffee or that glass from which you have wine (or, in my anecdote, above, water) must bring comfort and good feelings from long use, from memories of morning coffee-talks with friends or family or evening spent in similar fashion. Likewise, your "cozy" abode, in which you sit, drink in hand, and watch the storm rage outside becomes your refuge not by the purchase of the "right" accents but by the arrangement of beloved trinkets and comfortable furniture acquired over time, often adjusted and readjusted perhaps as seasons change. For me, lighting by fire (be it candles or kerosene lamps) will always invoke hygge and the modern LED favorites -- especially the bright blue-white colored ones -- are its antithesis. As does spinning and to a lesser extent knitting (just because I need better light to see the stitches!)

I think that, for those who seek hygge, all I can say is that those who tie it all to money will never get there.