“Until we get past the need to teach people how to pronounce the word in the first paragraph, (or worse, on the cover), then we are just babes in the woods. I’m waiting for an in depth hygge book, one that covers hygge design, decoration, atmosphere, activities, baking, parties, philosophy. There is still room for a beautiful coffee (and cake) table book written by someone who loves hygge. Like you Jo. Your blog in book form, that’s what I’m waiting for.”
I’ve been researching my next book (yes, I do actually research my books, even though they may sound like pure stream of consciousness. It takes a lot of effort to be so artlessly incompetent) and time and again I just keep coming up with posts and articles where the very first thing they do is say, “Have you heard of this word? It’s said this way….”
Again and again. It’s like we can’t get past the idea that we Brits/Americans/Anyone else who isn’t Scandinavian or Nordic can actually meet a word, remember it and use it without needing a lesson in how to say it properly or why it can’t be translated.
And I keep saying: why translate it? Why not just adopt the whole kit and caboodle into the English language, be done with it and get on with Living Hygge? With adopting wholesale the bits we know work here (food, fun, spending time with those we love) and adapting the parts that we might want but haven’t got yet (a more equitable society, better attitude to work/life balance , a more trusting, family focused society) while working towards achieving them?
I relate this to my experience of learning French. I started aged 11, knowing nothing much except a please and thank you, no accent, no liking particularly for a foreign place. I worked a little during the 5 years at school, got a French penpal (Mireille Guenerie. We have lost touch since, and I’d love to get back in touch if you know her. She lived in Istres near Marseilles) and learned a little more about the country. I could speak it… badly and read a little more, but I was still reading the French and translating inside my head, so it was slow and it definitely counted as an effort.
A couple of holidays in France and my spoken language was better, but still very English. I cringe now to think what I sounded like. Probably the English Policeman from ‘Allo ‘Allo. I liked the place a little more and I liked being able to talk… even if only badly…
Fast forward to Motherhood and the need to ‘find’ myself and I am a Francophile. (this was about 14 years ago) I read every book I could find on the place, devoured memoirs of people who had lived in Paris, desperately wanted to be Audrey Tautou and watched French movies over and over again. Surprisingly enough, my accent got better because I played at talking French . I subscribed to a French magazine (Marie Claire, en francais) and even got a couple of novels I knew well to read. Because I submersed myself in the whole language, ethos, culture I found that one day as I was reading the magazine I was reading…. like reading the French and not translating it to English. I was actually thinking French.
I still love a good bit of French TV now and again… I will watch Amelie and Populaire any day with or without subtitles. I am confident that my spoken French, though still inexecrable is usable and will get me what I want.
I’m learning Danish… slowly… but I know that given time and a submersion into the culture I can be thinking in Danish eventually.
I like to think that my hygge experience has been gained in a way similar to my French. At first it’s a very mindful experience, that I had to consciously tell myself this was hygge or that was hygge. I had to work at thinking about things in my English life and translating to Hygge. Or read about hyggely moments and translate it into an English way of living. I think I’m sort of beyond that now. Thinking hygge has started to become second nature. I know what makes me comfortable and I’m prepared to search for the right cafe, the right cushion, the right spot in the park. Most of all I know who makes me hyggely and I’m happy to work through my friends to find the right hygge companion for drinking, or cinema or a wild night of crafting.
I don’t translate hygge anymore. I’m living it.
And my question to you… What do you have to do to start living hyggely as well?
My book, 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way is available in Paperback and Kindle version from Amazon. The contents of the blog are entirely different from the blog, so don’t worry that it’s just posts rehashed. Not yet, anyway. If you purchase through the links on this page, I get a couple of pence extra per copy.
****How to Hygge the British Way Blog isn’t monetised. I have taken the decision that I want to remain neutral and not to promote things just because. I will only ever review items that I have bought myself, or that I think will help to promote hygge in a busy life. To do this, I need support. Even just the price of a coffee adds up to a book over time, and it means I can stay independent. Would you help? Please consider clicking through to paypal.me/HyggeJem and leaving even a small amount. I’d be very grateful. Thank you.***