Tonight we drive up to Seattle to watch the Burlesque Nutcracker. So excited! I finished my birthday dress (today), and will take many pictures of it in action.

Anyway, back to Scandinavia. I include Denmark in Scandinavia, which is common in most usage. Oddly, Finland isn’t considered part of it according to the strictest definitions, but I think that’s just silly.

In my research (read: googling), I keep coming across this strange Danish word that is really important to Danes. When people describe coffee-shops, they use this word. Holidays, this word. Meeting a friend for coffee. Homemade napkins with homemade cookies. A fireplace with wine. Biking down a tree-lined lane with a picnic basket.

The word is hygge, which I do not know how to pronounce, so don’t ask. It’s impossible to translate, as everyone likes to point out, but the simplest, watered-down version in English is “cozy.”

“Cozy” as in well-being, fellowship, reassurance, familiarity, warmth, using the good china, toasting with dear friends, and eating a home-cooked meal. I get the feeling that it’s like loving and being loved, with style.

Alex from Hygge House says it much better than me:

The Danish word Hygge (hu-gah) is a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary everyday things simply extraordinary; whether it’s using real lights on a Christmas tree or breaking out the good wine when friends come over. It’s about owning things you only truly love or that inspire, being present in yourself and your life, putting effort into your home without being Martha Stewart or buying a bed in a bag. It’s about being conscious and authentic from home to work to friends to celebrations and making all events {no matter how big or small, mundane or exciting} matter.

Some refer to Hygge as the Art of Creating Intimacy (with yourself, friends and home)….Danes only like to do things that are fun, nourish the soul and are familiar so they find ways to incorporate that into their daily life. By creating simple rituals without effort {such as brewing real tea with a little china cup every evening to stopping at the farmers market every week to buy flowers} the Danes see both the domestic and personal life as an art form and not every drudgery to get away from.

That sums it up pretty well. So at this dark time of year, at Christmas and Solstice, may your surroundings light up with candles, warmth, cherished people, delicious treats, familiar traditions, and may all manner of hygge be yours.

Photo by Brittany Ouchida-Walsh