In Search of Hygge: My Scandinavian Obsession
It all started with Iceland. (Which is weird in itself, since Iceland isn't really considered a true part of Scandinavia.) I just fell in love with that scenery (through photos of course)! The beautiful waterfalls and fjords, the northern lights, hot springs and lush greenery dotted with flocks of sheep and quaint cottages.
I poured over travel blogs, journals and articles, and that’s how my interest expanded to include Denmark, Norway and Sweden. I even made a giant Pinterest board, cataloging all my favorite travel articles and photos. My fascination started to creep into my own design style too. Luckily, it happened to be at Christmas time... the pinnacle of decorating and changing up home decor!
I admired the simplistic aesthetic: lots of white with natural greenery and pops of red. The focus was on soft lighting and homemade aspects like baked goods and ornaments. Smaller, sparse trees in galvanized buckets were tucked in the corners of the house (think: not as sad as “Charlie Brown” but definitely not as lush as “Rockefeller Center”). Gifts were wrapped simply, but thoughtfully in solid colored paper and adorned with fresh holly or ribbon. Everything seems to be placed with such care and deliberateness, yet it all looked so effortless. I was smitten!
I wanted to learn more about the culture behind these images. The more I read, the more I became enamored, and started sharing it with anyone who would listen... siblings, spouse, coworkers. I’m sure some of them were thankful, but others rolled their eyes! As I read, one Danish word kept coming up, hygge. In the most basic meaning: it’s a sense of coziness, warmth and security in one’s life and surroundings. The broader culture seems to focus on experiences rather than possessions, relationships over self. This resonated with me so deeply. This is my whole parenting philosophy summed up in one word; everything I want my boys to focus on and hold dear as they become young gentleman. So, imagine how elated I was to discover there’s a book on DANISH PARENTING (which I of course read and highly recommend)! The Danes are considered to be some of the happiest people in the world. I couldn’t wait to find out why, and pass that along to my own family.
I’m not packing us all up and moving there next year, but a family vacation is definitely on my radar! In the meantime, I’ll just keep on reading and sharing with anyone and everyone, creating our own little hygge community here in Upstate New York.