Hygge: the Danish Are on to Something

Hygge: the Danish Are on to Something
By Shirley Martin

It would seem the Danish folks have it figured out.  They have discovered an antidote for the rushed lives we lead.  It’s called hygge. Pronounced “HUE-gah”, hygge is a concept of living that is derived from the Danish lifestyle that includes enjoying the simple pleasures of life. I came across this term recently and it “spoke” to me as a gardener and an individual. The concept is simplicity, really. It speaks of coziness, intimacy and contentment. It validates your inner desire to break free from the rushed pace of modern life to find calm and intimate atmospheres.

During winter, I find that not only on a subconscious level, but externally, I seek coziness. That can mean sitting by the fire, wrapped in a shawl or covered in a blanket, reading a book, watching movies, being with family and friends. It also extends to the desire to feel the  influence of nature and to continue gardening.  I read gardening books, magazines and catalogues (don’t tell me you don’t!) and I plan for the upcoming season while snuggled up warm indoors, away from the cold of winter. Subconsciously I may be onto something.

During our winter months, who among us brings in fresh greens and/or burns candles scented of evergreens or other nature aromas? We surround ourselves with natural materials to feel homey. Hygge is often about bringing the outdoors in. The very element of home design can be influenced by the desire for coziness and maintaining our relationship with the outdoors. Whether we have stone walls, hardwood floors, natural fibres, nature and gardens in our art and on our tables; natural elements brought indoors contribute to the concept of living that is defined by a longing for simple warmth and coziness.
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Truly, it’s not just about hunkering down inside for the duration of the winter, though I do enjoy the idea of that. Getting out in nature, which studies have shown to be highly beneficial for mental, emotional and physical well-being; is essential to the balance. Snowshoeing, which I have yet to try, or cross-country skiing (don’t ask),  skiing downhill or a quiet stroll on a still wintry day (not that summer endeavours aren’t desirable, but we don’t need so much encouragement to get outdoors to enjoy nature and our gardens then, do we?) can be refreshing to mind and body.

So next time you think about going to the mall, consider hygging instead. Grab a pal and immerse yourself in the culture of simple pleasures. Go for a walk, arrange flowers, visit a greenhouse…. just go hygge!

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