Perhaps it is my Danish ancestry, but I have always practiced to some extent the art of Hygge (pronounced HOO-GA), where you enjoy the small pleasures of life. My kids tease me about my love for candles and cozy blankets. I also enjoy a hot beverage with sweets while curled up with a good book while a pot of stew is simmering, especially if it’s storming outside.
Nevertheless, my Hygge practices pale compared to the Danes, who burn more candles and drink more coffee per capita than any other country. To learn more about this practice, I read The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (It makes me happy that an organization studies happiness!). Denmark has consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world, although I just read that the Norwegians bumped the Danes to the second spot in a new happiness survey. The Scandinavian countries all are at the top of these happiness lists, but the Danes actively seek Hygge, from their homes to their activities, and even incorporate the word Hygge into their language. The unpleasant weather and lack of sunlight that hits the little country in the winter months motivates them. December is the ultimate Hygge month with Christmas celebrations, but they also practice enjoying small pleasures of life throughout the year.
This was a fun read, especially to see mentions to my own family traditions — it even has a recipe for Abelskiver, the beloved Danish pancake balls, and directions for making paper Danish hearts at Christmastime. If you are not familiar with the lovely art of Hygge, read this book for inspiration. The Danes know what they are doing.