Thursday, 27 February 2014

On "hygge"

Why am I hesitant to admit that I love winter? Is it because so many are so vocal in their hatred of it? Winter-bashing is a kind of national pastime here in the true-north-strong-and-free.  Thus it's hard for those of us who love the season to feel free to admit to our passion for it. So I gamely go along with others and decry the cold and the snow, but that's not how I feel in my heart.  Instead, I quietly love it, loving the invigorating cold and the serenity of the falling snow.  Yes, I do have my moments of frustration with winter, like when my car won't start for the umpteenth time since November. But all I need to do is put on my snow-shoes and head out into the forest ASAP.  Soon all is forgiven with winter.

One reason why I think we Canadians dislike winter is because we have no vocabulary for loving it.  No way of conceptualizing affection for ice, snow, cold.  The Danish - who know something about winter, too - have the lovely notion known as "hygge," which means, as I understand it, a feeling of coziness or comfort during the winter months, involving good food, good drink, good friends.  It seems to be an opportunity to embrace winter, a season which dominates the year for northern nations and their people.  Why don't we have "hygge" here?

One of the few Canadian expressions of a love of winter - or, perhaps, it's best to say that it's an expression of and a celebration of what winter can mean - is the short film "We Refuse to Be Cold," by Alexander Carson from 2011 (produced with the support of the National Film Board).  Here's the link so that you can watch it, too:

Perhaps the film's title can be read as a hygge-inspired rallying cry, one for both the winter-weary and the winter-adoring. 

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