The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking was all the rage last year. The concept of Hygge was everywhere with shop owners using it to promote anything remotely ‘hygge’ ish that was for sale. Hygge seems to be pronounced hooga and it is of course a Danish word meaning a sense of cosiness/the absence of annoyance and taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. The Danes have apparently been proclaimed to be one of the happiest nations in the world and the author believes that hygge has a lot to do with it.
But surely hygge is just what everybody strives for. It consists of everything that would make you feel contented – warm woollen socks, coffee, tea, good chocolate, books, good design, atmospheric lighting, log fires, scarves, cosy jumpers (pullovers), lovely food, cushions, blankets, candles, mobile phones switched off and whatever else takes your fancy. I suspect that that list would be more than acceptable to most people. It’s human nature to want to be comfy, nothing particularly Danish or unusual about that.
What does make all the difference I’m sure is that Denmark is a high tax society, however as health/welfare care, and education is free and housing is affordable it means that the really important things in life aren’t a worry for Danes. This is a sensible way to run a society as in the long run, despite paying high taxes they end up being better off than they would be if they had to pay out to get health insurance in a private marketplace or if they were engulfed by massive student debts for most of their lives as happens in some other countries. There’s wide support for the welfare state in Denmark as the people realise that it contributes to their well-being. The only people who are against socialism are surely the people who are rich on the backs of poorer people! It seems so to me anyway.
The country is very flat and cycling is very popular as is getting out into the countryside or to summer lodges. There are lots of references to the bad weather, and as we always say – There’s no such thing as bad weather – just the wrong clothes. The author says I love summer in Denmark. It’s my favourite day of the year. In that respect it seems very Scottish as do the other Scandinavian countries I think.
This is a lovely wee book, nicely illustrated with pretty photographs, some good looking recipes and is entertaining, but I read it in about an hour despite there being 285 pages so I’m glad that I just borrowed it from the library.
It turns out that hygge is actually a Norwegian word, something which I don’t think the author was too happy about confessing. Denmark and Norway were one country until 1814. I think there’s a sort of England/Scotland rivalry going on there.