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“Hue-Gah”

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah or hoo-gah)

I’m a little slow catching onto trendy things. If it hadn’t been for David in Albuquerque, I’d still be uninformed as to the au courant meaning of “woke.” Our daughter recently explained to me that “sex positivity” was neither a nasty nor embarrassing thing to mention. And – though “hygge” was all over the U.S. news in 2017 – thanks to our son’s input, I’ve just now learned to pronounce it and appreciate it.

For those of you who share with me unawokeness, let me summarize hygge. This Danish word possibly comes from an old Norse word meaning “protected from the outside world.” The Danes, known for being some of the happiest people in the world, believe hygge to be all about emphasizing coziness and comfort.

The official website of Denmark has this to say: Hygge is often about informal time together with family or close friends. Typically, the setting is at home or another quiet location, or perhaps a picnic during the summer months. It usually involves sharing a meal and wine or beer, or hot chocolate and a bowl of candy if children are included. There is no agenda. You celebrate the small joys of life, or maybe discuss deeper topics. It is an opportunity to unwind and take things slow. 

A Hot Toddy might be perfect for your cozy evening by the fireplace – or outside in the freezing cold!

Another few recommendations for this Danish life style are that we should avoid multi-tasking, ride our bikes a lot, and wear comfortable clothing. Andy likes the bike thing; he’d also recommend fishing (see today’s Andy’s Corner). While I’m totally into comfortable clothing, I’m really, really working on the multi-tasking issue. Board games are also encouraged.

I think I’m safe to say we all need a little hygge time right now. Unfortunately, unless you have a safe and secure “pod” (and here’s a good article on forming a pod – and protecting it) to gather with around your fireplace, gatherings this holiday season may need to be outdoors. A great New Yorker article – “The Year of Hygge” from 2016 – concludes, “The hard-earned lesson of frigid Scandinavian winters is that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothes—that all you really need to get through difficult times is shelter and sustenance, kith and kin.”

Nice warm blanket, kith and kin together, snuggling close – a good example of hygge? HA!

To get into this hygge-during-a-pandemic thing I suggest that some evening soon you don some comfortable, toasty-warm clothes, invite a couple of non-pod friends or family over (of course, be sure to wear your masks except when eating and do the social distancing thing), light some outdoor-friendly candles (preferably non-scented), bring out wool throw blankets for everyone if you don’t have an outdoor heater, and serve some chicken soup. Since what gives you comfort food-wise may vary as to where you grew up, maybe you’ll want to serve our Pho, or Gumbo, or Pozole. Or try one of our two new recipes, Danish (spot-on!) Hen’s Soup or Indonesian Soto Ayam. They are oh SO good!

BUT – should you be unable to find hearty friends who are willing to share a chilly night out – you might have to resort to the Finnish concept of “kalsarikannit (pronounced cal-sar-y-cuhn-eet), defined as “the feeling when you are going to get drunk home alone in your underwear with no intention of going out.” Sounds like fun to me. It’s time for that Hot Toddy! 🙂

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