Saturday, January 4, 2014

In A Word

Sometime around the beginning of December I started to give serious thought to the word I was going to choose for the year 2014. This was going to be my first go at having a theme word for the year, and I wanted to get it right. The word needed to resonate with me. I wanted a word that would seem as fresh at the end of the year as it did at the beginning.

Like so many things in life, this seemed a difficult task right up until the moment it wasn't. I played around with several word ideas, but quickly discarded each one. There were only a few weeks left in the year and I was starting to think maybe this word thing wasn't such a brilliant idea after all. Then I read a piece by Clara Parkes in the Knitter's Review where she talked about the Danish concept of hygge.

To say I was excited would be the observational equivalent of saying I only have a few skeins of yarn in my stash. I had found my word for 2014! But it was more than that. I had discovered there's a word for something I have known about for many years. The reason I hadn't had a word before this is simply because I was searching in the wrong language.

Hygge is a Danish word that is hard to translate into English. The word cosy is sometimes used, but it falls short of conveying the true meaning of this Danish concept.  I like what this blogger has to say about hygge.

A love of or need for hygge is an important part of the Danish psyche. Hygge is usually inadequately translated as cosiness. This is too simplistic: cosiness relates to physical surroundings – a jersey can be cosy, or a warm bed - whereas hygge has more to do with people’s behaviour towards each other. It is the art of creating intimacy: a sense of comradeship, conviviality, and contentment rolled into one.

Denmark is rated the happiest country in the world, and I'm sure their focus on hygge contributes to this. This doesn't mean the Danes go around in a state of euphoria and laugh their way through yet another appliance disaster (more on this in my next post). What it does mean is that they try and create a sense of hygge whenever possible. It is a priority, not something they put off for some day in the future when life is perfect and all their ducks are lined up in a row.

This "ducks in a row thing" is what keeps me from experiencing hygge more often in my own life, and it is the thing I'm going to be working on in 2014. No ducks. No rows. I want to strive for a sense of hygge each day this year. It might be crawling into cosy flannel sheets on a cold winter's night with a hot water bottle and a good mystery book. It might be sitting on my front porch and looking at the mountains. It might be visiting with a good friend. It might be sitting with a cup of tea and looking at knitting patterns. The possibilities are endless.

As I move through this year I hope to post every month on this word, and give you some examples from my life. In the past I have done some posts on Frugal Luxuries, and in some ways I think the essence of those posts comes very close to this idea of hygge. It isn't something money can buy. It's a way of experiencing the world and sharing that experience with those around you, and that would include all of you who read my blog.

On a knitting note, here's my final completed project for 2013, a pair of Cloisonne mittens, knit with some Cascade 220 Superwash I had in my stash. I love this pattern!







32 comments:

  1. What a lovely choice! I have just finished the book How To Be Danish by Patrick Kingsley and of course hygge gets a mention here. (Good read.) I have chosen the more mundane 'walk' for this year as I am becoming much too sedentary....I look forward to your updates.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your choice of walk for your word. I'm a daily walker, and it can be its own kind of hygge (unless it's windy and cold!). Thanks for the book tip. I'm headed over to Amazon to check it out.

      Delete
  2. This is the second time for me to read about Denmark being rated the happiest country in the world. I like the description you quoted, "the art of creating intimacy" because it covers everything in life. That really is the ultimate "cozy" isn't it. To feel intimate with your surroundings, whether it's your sense of place, relationships, and even with your Self, is to be comfortable. Thanks for sharing your word for the year. I think I should make it my word, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm quite happy to share my word if you want to use it too! :-)

      Delete
  3. I've never heard of that word, but it certainly resonates with how I want to live my life. Being happy in the moment doesn't cost a penny, but just being aware that you ARE happy. As you say it can be really simple things that give you the greatest pleasure. Good luck with it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it an awesome word? I can't believe I just heard it for the first time last month, especially considering I am of Danish heritage. :-)

      Delete
  4. Hah! I can't believe how obviously cold it is where you are and how hot it is down here! We suffered extraordinary temps here yesterday - I think it got up to 43 degrees celsius where we are and hotter in other places. Crazy! I love that your word ended up being in another language. And what a great word. We have very dear family friends and everytime I go to visit them their homes exude hygge - there is always beautiful music playing (not intrusively), candles burning, wholesome food prepared and lots of love and hugs. Truly special. And of course I love the word cosy because it reminds me of my best pal and her crazy books about Tea Cosies - the latest being How Tea Cosies Changed the World - and they certainly have :)...May your year be full of hygge. PS I love the colours your chose for the mitts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The pictures of the mittens were taken a few weeks ago when we had snow. It was very beautiful, but then a warm front moved in and sadly it has all melted now. 43 degrees is miserably hot - I hope you get some relief soon, and that you have good air-conditioning. I haven't heard of the tea cosy book you mentioned, but will check it out. I love all things tea!

      Delete
  5. That is a good theme for 2014 (and life). I find myself working to put others at ease, but continue to put pressure on myself.
    I need to reverse that.
    Just kidding! :)
    A communal feeling of contentment sounds like a wonderful way to live. I have to believe the Danes don't file as many lawsuits as my countrymen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right, Rick. It's not just a good word for the year. I'm hoping to be able to make it a life word as well. It sounds like you need to keep putting others at ease, but also allow yourself into that category. And you might be right about the lawsuit thing. :-)

      Delete
  6. Ruth in Ontario, CanadaJanuary 4, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    It's tempting to think that the English word "hug" might be derived from "hygge". It may sound corny, but the Ikea catalogue always inspires this kind of feeling in me -- all those serene and comfortable-looking room settings seem to evoke a sense of well-being. I think Scandinavian furniture somehow captures this concept in its design. Maybe that's why it's so popular?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm the same way about the IKEA catalogue. It also explains why there are so many candles for sale at IKEA. Of course, that whole hygge feeling stops the minute one has to assemble one of their flat packs! :-)

      Delete
  7. Sounds like a good word to use, I haven't heard of it before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope it was a good pick. We'll see how it goes throughout the year!

      Delete
  8. What a brilliant word, well found.
    Joy x x x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Joy! I'm hoping I am as enthused about it at the end of the year as I am right now.

      Delete
  9. Like Ruth in Ontario, I thought hygge looked similar to hug, and wondered if there is a connection. What a lovely concept, and something we can all dwell on this year. Your mittens are so pretty, and I am drooling over the snow! So hot here...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There could be a connection in the word roots. When you listen to the way the Danes pronounce the word it even sounds a bit like the word hug. I hope things have cooled off a bit for you. 44C is way too hot!

      Delete
  10. What a lovely idea to have a word for the year, to latch onto. My first thought like others was that Hygge sounds like hug. As I think about it more I'm interpreting Hygge to be as if life itself is embracing you and giving you a hug. Thank you so much for your comment on my last post about me being me, it meant a lot.
    Patricia x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it a nice idea to have a word for the year? I'm hoping I can keep the word front and centre all through 2014. We'll see - it's easy to start off with a bang and end with a fizzle. :-)

      I love your definition of hygge! It's even better than the one I quoted in my post.

      Delete
  11. Kristen, excellent choice in words, I read that Clara Parkes post and I really love the idea. I think it is fantastic to have a monthly post on this as we easily forget to try and live our word. I am going for the word Embrace like I said in my post, embrace with a lot of peace I hope.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Embrace is a great word, too! Maybe in some ways, not all that different from hygge. :-)

      Delete
  12. Word well chosen, Kristie!
    Best wishes for the new year,
    stashdragon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Stashdragon, and Happy New Year to you, too!

      Delete
  13. What a great choose of word, it must have felt so right for you especially with your Danish roots. Having visited Denmark many times as a child, candles always feature in my memory. My Mum always bring so many home with us!
    Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wondered if part of the reason the word resonated with me so much was because of my Danish roots. What a nice memory you have of your childhood visits to Denmark. Candles get mentioned in many of the online articles I read about hygge, which makes me think I need to get a few more. Next time I go to IKEA! :-)

      Delete
  14. I think this is a great idea and a great choice of word for the year. I've read a fair amount about hygge lately and I think it's what I'm always striving for too, just not realizing this was a name for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's fun to discover there's a word for something you knew about before, but didn't have a name for. I think your blog very much expresses your aim to have your home exude hygge, Jennifer. :-)

      Delete
  15. I'm still desperately trying to catch up with everyone ... it's been manic here! But finally ... a very Happy New Year to you and yours my friend x

    I can't wait to see if you pull off everything on the 2014 list too! And I love your choice of hygge to see you through the months ahead ... it's a good word :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy New year to you too Annie! All the best for 2014. I hope for you it's the year you get that longed for trip to Shetland!

      Delete
  16. A very belated Happy New Year from me too, Kristie. It's never occurred to me to have a theme word for a year, but hygge certainly sounds like a good one. I love the word contentment - so much more satisfying than possibly-fleeting happiness - and I think there may be an element of contentment in the concept of hygge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you are right Perpetua - contentment is part of hygge. Contentment is a place of peace with whatever the circumstances, and is something I need to work towards in my own life.

      Delete