Saturday, 29 October 2016

Hyyge


The leaves have turned now, and finally the Autumn collections in all the shop windows match reality. I am hoping to go scuffing through the leaves before the usual storm strips the rest from the trees, and the shop windows revert to crystals and snowlflakes.

This is the time of year when - if I understand it correctly - the Danish concept of 'Hyyge' (pronounced, I think, 'Huger') stands the best chance of being experienced by the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.

They say there is no simple translation of this word into English, but I get the feeling we have been experiencing it forever, it is just that we didn't know what it was called - in Denmark.

The best explanation of Hyyge I have heard was from - naturally - a Danish person who said that she and a small group of friends found themselves lounging one night in a comfortable wooden house in front of a crackling log fire; a snow-storm raging outside; having eaten just the right amount of food and having drunk just the right amount of alcohol - with full glasses twinking in the light from the fire and candles - and,  having all reached a cordial conclusion in the amiable discussions of the evening, they found themselves comfortably wordless, just basking in the replete satifaction of an almost perfect dinner party, when one of them broke the silence and said, "This is SO Hyyge!"

Traditionally, us Brits are supposed to feel most loving and contented at Christmas, but in reality the domestic murder-rate reaches a yearly peak. Something is not quite right.

The Danes have recently voted themselves to be the happiest nation on earth, which - when you consider they have one of the most expensive standards of living, the highest taxation bands in the world and (alledgedly) suicidal Swedes as next-door neighbours - is really quite astounding.

I think that there is a plan to export the recognition of Hyyge as a state of mind, over and beyond the North Sea and somehow make money from it. They have seen the Swedes do something similar with tasteless jumpers and TV murder mysteries, and are probably trying to find a way of merchandising Hyyge into something a little more tangible - something which could be handed over for hard cash, but not in the form of furnishings or kitchen design. It could be marketed in the same way as a religion, but the idea of sending out evangelists would completely detroy the intimacy of the concept.

Of course, a feeling of well-being cannot be perpetuated without the contrast of more troubled times, unless it involves the innevitable downside of invasive brain-surgery, after which the productivity of a country would drop to almost zero, and nobody would be able to afford the cosy environment which tends to nurture the sensation in the first place.

It's a tricky one but someone will crack it, and once they do, there will never be a person more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize.

17 comments:

  1. I think that perhaps the possibility of the state of hyyge depemds upon what one expects from life. The conditions you paint in your piece more or less exactly what I wish for.

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    1. I wish for the same things too, and quite often get them. I think it boils down to a state of mind in the end, but the trouble is that there is always someone cropping up who destroys them. Best to keep the doors closed, the radio off and the phone off the hook when your mates or loved ones are gathered together in the house.

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  2. Over here by the North Sea there is heaps of hyge; enough to share with you if you want it

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    1. Those moments must be the brief lulls between storms.

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  3. Contentment is a notion, and not easily marketed. I look forward to finding a box of Hyyge at Waitrose or Robert Dyas.

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    1. I don't think that hyyge is just contentment, but what do I know?

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  4. Do you reckon that people are hyygeing all over the place ? ...... I'm not so sure ..... I think that it may be pretending to have the wondrous lifestyle .... how many people do you know that are having a quick hyyge every winters night
    ?!!!!! .... maybe a little one now and again. XXXX

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    1. No, it has nothing to do with lifestyle really. A tramp with a bottle, crust of bread, bit of cheese, a bus shelter roof and a good mate could have a hyyegic time - but what do I know?

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  5. You put me in mind of the home delivery service, ala Amazon. For dinner, Blue Apron, mail order wine clubs, the wool socks delivered by LL Bean.

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    1. Hmm. That sounds more like Halloween to me.

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  6. Oh Tom, you are absolutely on top of the bandwaggon: five books (in English!) in the English bookstore here in Berlin (and I had to read them all! professionally - and the resembled each other quite a lot in their Gemütlichkeit, or coziness, as the English might put it.
    PS: Hygge is pronounced Hue-gah. (have that from those books - And a Dane).

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    1. Titles: Hygge. Or: the book of Hygge. Or.... The Art of Hygge...
      I say: Hygge is the new Happiness topic of how-to-book writers for winter-time :-)

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    2. That's how Huger is pronounced in bloody English, I believe. Maybe a ü thrown in for the sake of Brexit/Auld Langsyne?

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    3. Or as in 'OO-YA!' when you are kicked in the nuts?

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  7. I have passed along the info about HI's exhibit to a NYC friend whose sister's family lives in Bath.

    Don't you think we all know and appreciate the atmosphere that hygge collects in its meaning without having it served to us as a marketing term.

    Maybe not everyone does and the new books and articles will encourage folks to get back to some cold weather basic truths.

    Best wishes.

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