The Danes have a concept called hygge (pronounced hoogah). Most articles I have found about hygge tell you that the word translates literally as cosiness but then immediately go on to explain that the whole idea is far more multilayered than that. This blog, written by Alexandra Beauchamp who has a Danish mother and a French father, contains the most helpful explanation I have found and is a lovely read too. So hygge seems to be about warmth and light, physical warmth in the glow of a fire and spiritual warmth in the company of people you love.
So how can I bring more hygge into my life?
More fire seems like a great idea. Even an outside fire like this chases away the winter demons. And we are lucky enough to have a woodburning stove which should clearly be lit every evening to fill the sitting room with the warmth and sound of a wood fire.
The Danes seem to be very big on candles too. We have lots of candles but somehow we don't use them as often as we might. I shall resolve to light them for the beauty of them instead of only when we have a power cut.
And for comfort we have cushions and blankets. I should bring these out for the winter instead of keeping them for when someone is unwell. Can you have too much cosiness? Probably not.
This is a little lap blanket which I made for the shepherd's hut but it is just the right size to use sitting by the fire in the house. I have been making new cushions as well. Perhaps my interest in hygge had kicked in without my being aware of it.
But in this house I don't see that you can have hygge without thinking about food: spicy soups, casseroles, pies and homemade bread. We love our food up here and food is for sharing. And that I think brings me to one of the most important aspects of Danish life. Did you know that the Danes consistently report themselves as the happiest people in Europe? And that seems to me to be partly at least because they are a society which relishes relationships and companionship. In fact older Danish people object to the idea that you can have hygge on your own. Young Danes would find hygge in a cup of hot chocolate by the fire by themselves. The older generation would want you to share that moment with someone you love. So food brings us to sharing and companionship. It is easy up here to hunker down in winter and to see far less of our friends and neighbours. I shall try this year to do more sharing of my warm and candlelit room with friends over good things to eat.
I have almost persuaded myself. Maybe winter won't be so bad after all. Have a look at silverpebble's blog about the idea of making winter and see what others are saying and doing about it.