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WHAT IS HYGGE AND WHERE CAN YOU FIND IT

Last November the Guardian's Chief Culture Writer Charlotte Higgins wrote over 6000 words on Hygge for the newspaper's Long Read during which she managed to associate the word with the far right, escapism, illiteracy, capitilist exploitation and cycinicism in publishing. But then she not only writes for the Guardian she is the Guardian. The only thing not in her 'read' was a Hygge Balliol Quatrian (Charlotte is a Balliol Girl).

So what is Hygge in say 600 or so words??

Having been to Denmark more than a dozen or so times the first thing to say is I'd never heard of it until we began importing it (perhaps after Brexit it will be subject to a tarrif!). It can't be translated but I've felt , eaten , touched  and smelt it.  But like 'Englishness' it slips all over the place and falls apart when you try to define it. It's a verb and a noun. It can be a moment or a place. But like lots of things the version we import  is erstaz; not the real thing.

You can feel it in a Sarah Lund sweater, eat it in a Kro in the middle of Jutland, touch it in a damp beechwood forest alongside the Zealand's coastline and smell it in a sauna. You might find it huddled on the beach amongst the soft white dunes of the Danish Riviera, alongside the lanky Giacometti figures at Louisiana looking across the Kattegat or having a coffee at the Central Hotel og Café.

But you won't find it in a book or a shop. And like Zen enlightenment the very act of consciously looking for it means you won't find it. 

Is it exclusive to Denmark? Author of How to Hygge www.panmacmillan.com/blogs/lifestyle-and-wellbeing/how-to-hygge-your-home Norwegian American cookery writer Signe Johansen  clearly thinks not, but since Norway was in union with Denmark until the Danes blew it by throwing their lot in with Napolean she probably has cause. Louisa Thomsen Brits an author and blogger on Hygge can you believe is half Danish half Englsh and thinks it's found in the mind.

Is it a foodie thing? Bronte Aurell co owner of the epic ScandiKitchen Cafe [www.scandikitchen.co.uk/ ] just north of London's Soho pins Hygge says so in her book Fika & Hygge. (I think Fika must get in there on account of her Swedish husband).  Danish cookery writer, restrateur and all round Danish Super Woman Trine Hahnemann[ trinehahnemann.com/]  in Embracing the Art of Hygge similarly sticks food at the front of what Hygge is all about. 

What about candles and socks both of which seem central to it? I think that gives you a clue. Scented candles and ribbed socks seem emblematic of quite, calm, comforting moments. As do open hearth fires, dark sooty coffee, weight gaining cakes, the end of the day, oak beams, thatched roofs and all the other iconic 'stop the world i want to get off' icons.

Me, I think Hygge defies definition. Just take a trip to Denmark [ www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-denmark ] and smell, touch and feel it.

Odinsson2




 

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