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If I had to name my spirit animal it would probably be one of those lab monkeys that presses the pleasure button to the exclusion of all other life functions. I live for good food. When I hear a song I like, I feel like I'm on a really fun carnival ride. Simply going out with a few good friends stimulates my pleasure centers in the way I predict being hooked up to electrodes would. This appreciation for the beauty of every day enjoyments is Hygge - one of those wonderful untranslatable concepts they have in other cultures, in this case Denmark.
It's a concept that we ruggedly independent Americans could take a cue from as fall gets its foothold this year. Hygge (pronounced HUE-gah) is anything that creates a sense of welcoming, community, comfort or coziness during the winter months. It's making your living space livable and inviting, creating a place where you can take solace against the harshness of winter. A place where you can spend time with friends and reestablish a social atmosphere that is casual and easy in the summer months.
Scandinavians have notoriously long and dark winters and have built into their culture a way of combating the blues that come with the cold. And it shouldn't be an unattainable thing. A candle or a few pillows in your living space, string lights, a craft night where each person brings a little snack or a low key dinner party, wool socks, sweat pants and a cup of tea, whatever makes you feel warm and fuzzy. My 4 year old son and I like to bring out all the pillows and blankets to the floor of the living room, make popcorn and either watch a movie or read to music.
My favorite thing about hygge is the ease with which it can be incorporated it into every day life. Keeping a little something in the pantry in case of a drop-in from a friend. Always offering something to guests, even if it's just a carrot. Saving up for the really special item rather than accumulating a bunch of shabby, toss away stuff. It's the frugality that appeals to me rather than the extravagance. Making do with what you already have available and just relaxing. "Try" seems to be the antithesis of "relax", so I take hygge to mean being yourself, taking comfort in who you are, and inviting people to enjoy in that comfort together.
Winter can be an isolating season so as we enter into the cold months, finding ways to keep the connection between people can be fun. Happy fall!