‘Tis the season to enjoy simple pleasures. For the past two winters, I’ve enjoyed learning about the Scandinavian rituals of Hygge (pronounced Hue-ga). Neither French nor English has a single word for embracing this concept of enjoying the simple pleasures of life. In my childhood language of Dutch we had a word woven into the cultural fabric of embracing enjoyable simple, social exchanges. The Dutch celebrate the concept of Gezellig. An Ottawa chef, who lived in The Netherlands, opened a restaurant named Gezellig. He felt Canada’s Capital needed to embrace the concept of enjoying the “warmth of friendship and contentment to simply be”. ‘Cocooning’ is the closest we come to expressing this concept in North America.
While the feeling of hygge can be created at any time of year, winter more naturally lends itself to the glow of candles and fireplaces, hot beverages sipped without haste and fuzzy blankets. Together or alone.
Over the last year, I’ve distilled the meaning to be ‘the permission to take time out for ourselves to enjoy the simple pleasures of life’. For me there is nothing better than curling up with a good book, flanked by my two dogs and a steamy cup of tea within arms’ reach.
So having given this more thought, it occurred to me that we Canucks DO have traditions of creating comfort. Each fall, as temperatures dip, a collective tradition begins with a migratory path to the cupboard where our crock pots have spent their summer holidays. This unleashes a season of stews, spaghetti, casseroles, one-pot meals – you know what I’m talking about. This season of comfort coincides with inviting friends and neighbours to break bread with us, uncorking that special bottle of wine we have been saving, and basking in the warmth of those we share time with.
We know and embrace the concept, we just leave the word for it unclaimed, satisfied with the feeling deep in our hearts.
Wishing you warm, fuzzy, cozy greetings for the season!
PS. Here is a link on Pinterest which will give you images of how to create Hygge in your life.