April 19, 2007

Great Dane.

I recall a few years ago having a conversation with my sister in which, out of nowhere, she suddenly emitted this amazing Danish word: hygge. I advise you to consider the pronunciation tips included in those search results, if for no other reason than that it's really enjoyable: try to say "oooo" and "eeee" simultaneously, and tip the final E up as though it's a question. Hygge? Oh, most definitely.

As soon as I got an idea of its meaning, I formed the opinion that it more or less represented everything I love in the world. Hygge is comfortable. Hygge is relaxing. Hygge is friendly, and frequently involves food. Hygge is the sheer brilliance of a population that has managed to make a single, two-syllable word mean "drinking hot chocolate with your grandparents on the comfy couch, OR a game of Scrabble and a beer with two or three friends, OR watching a movie in bed with your cat, but actually none of these things in particular and just the essence of comfy niceness that is common to all of them". It may be the hardest-working word for relaxation in any human language.

I would not, in any way, be happy in Denmark. If California winters exhaust me, Scandinavian winters would destroy me. In my Googling I found it suggested that the inhospitable Danish landscape is responsible for the endemic national coziness which hygge describes -- but my settings are off and a cloudy, 50-degree Berkeley spring day is enough to activate my hygge-seeking radar. This morning, sleepy and sniffly in my chilly basement room, I glanced into my closet and realized that the day held no possibilities worth mentioning if I didn't immediately put on the soft, worn, sky-blue hoodie that I inadvertently inherited from my dad. Or maybe my mom; I forget. The important thing is that it's older than I am, worn to a softness unrivaled by anything on earth except my housemate's chinchillas, lovingly repaired in countless places, and a peculiar shade and shape that says, I am not stylishly retro, I am just old. I am not expensive -- I am from your parents' closet. Pull me over your head and mess up your hair, put your hands in my enormous pocket, pull my hood up and my sleeves over your fingers and be warm. I am hygge.

Weather.com says it is now 53 degrees in Berkeley and the morning's clouds are still here. Tell me what is hygge in your life today.

Posted by dianna at April 19, 2007 11:38 AM

i (with cats) read a YA book in bed all morning and ate leftover M&M's from my mom's 4th grade class where they were learning mean, mode, and average. definitely hygge.

Posted by: michele at April 19, 2007 03:00 PM

That is an excellent word. Sadly, my guilt at not being outside interviewing dogs is interfering with my hygge at present.

Posted by: didofoot at April 19, 2007 03:35 PM

I would rather be outside interviewing dogs than face the prospect of being inside an interviewing dog.

Posted by: Dianna at April 19, 2007 03:58 PM

And at least no one's dogging my interview. (That happens after publication, when the letters start.)

Posted by: didofoot at April 19, 2007 04:17 PM