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Local librarian inspired by hygge

Danish living - Drayton librarian Joanne Wiersma presented a workshop on the Danish concept of hygge at the library’s monthly Carnegie Café on Nov. 27. Hygge is a back-to-basic style of living trending in the country of Denmark.  Photo by Caroline Sealey


Local librarian inspired by hygge

by Caroline Sealey

DRAYTON - The inspiration for the December Carnegie Cafe at the Drayton Library began with Joanne Wiersma’s interest in a book with an intriguing title.

In 2015, Wiersma found a copy of The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. After finishing the book, Wiersma pursued information about the trendy Danish concept of hygge mentioned in the story. Pronounced hew-gah, the word describes an atmosphere or quality of coziness and comfortable cheerfulness that brings a sense of calm contentment.

“It is the art of creating a welcoming and inviting home for family and friends alike, enjoying good food, conversation, playing a game or listening to music together. It’s really about taking pleasure in the simple things in life,” Wiersma said.

Denmark is a Scandinavian country known for pastries, bicycles and for the invention of Lego. Rated as the happiest country in the world by the United Nations in 2016, Denmark’s residents enjoy the shortest working days, good job benefits, long maternity leaves and extended vacations - but they pay the highest taxes. Danes also burn the largest number of candles in the world and consume copious amounts of licorice and milk.

“As the country has the fewest hours of sunlight during the winter season, with temperatures around the freezing point, days tend to be long and dreary,” Wiersma said. “Not only do Danish people get outdoors and enjoy the winter, they hunker down at home with friends and family.”

Minimalism plays a prominent role in Danish homes. Houses are not crowded and texture is an important part of home decor. Texture is achieved by the use of blankets and outdoor greenery.

The Cozy Life written by Pia Edberg is a suggested read that includes tips on the practice of hygge during the Christmas season. Edberg encourages everyone to keep things calm and peaceful, simple and not complicated by focusing on values and priorities such as generosity and gratitude.

“By keeping a gratitude journal and following the suggestions in the book, you will increase your energy levels and optimism. Slow down and enjoy life’s cozy moments,” Wiersma said.

The A to Z of hygge includes but is not limited to ambience, books, candles, drawing, exercise, soup, tea, vintage, woolens and treats.

A hygge basket can be given as a gift at Christmas. Baskets could include plants, tea, a gratitude journal, books, hot chocolate, candles, a blanket and reading socks.

In the home keep décor simple and uncluttered, light candles and create cozy spaces using small lamps. Incorporate natural sunlight and bring nature into the home. Keep lots of books and magazines on display. Cozy up to the fireplace or woodstove. Wear cozy socks and use throws when reading or watching a movie. Create a space for a coffee, tea and hot cocoa bar. Prepare nutritious comfort foods for potlucks with family and friends. Host a board game evening.

“Most important of all, take a break from cell phones, tablets and social media, keep a gratitude journal and get plenty of rest and sleep,” Wiersma said.


December 8, 2017


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