Before I explain the meaning of ‘Hygge’ (Hyoo-Gah) and how it is relevant to childcare, I would like to mention the special person that introduced the concept to me, one of my best friends, Maria, from Denmark. Her initial explanation of the word has always stuck with me and so that is how I will try and explain it to you. Hygge is a Danish word that doesn’t exactly translate into English but the best way Maria described it to me was the feeling of cosiness, warmth and togetherness. The word somewhat translates into different languages such as German (Gemutlichkeit), Norwegian (Koselig), Canadian (Hominess) and Dutch (Gezelligheid), but the English translation doesn’t really do it justice and I believe the reason why is because we don’t experience ‘Hygge’ as much as these other countries do – I would like to change that.
In Denmark the feeling of ‘Hygge’ is a prominent part of their culture, they implement the concept into their everyday day lives and this is perhaps why Denmark ranks among one of the happiest nations in the world. So what exactly is ‘Hygge’ and how do we create it?
Imagine you’re sat around a campfire, talking with your friends and family, the sun is setting and you have some great food sitting on your lap. That bliss right there is ‘Hygge’. Now imagine you’re at home, there are candles lit, you are reading your favourite book with your children or your partner and you feel relaxed and calm. That bliss right there is ‘Hygge’. Do you see what I’m getting at? And although you could argue that Hygge is subjective, and one person’s bliss differs from the next, there are undoubtedly specific elements that contribute to this overall feeling of what can only be described as ‘Hygge’.
The element I will focus on in this blog is ‘togetherness’. If you think back to one of your favourite and most memorable moments in your life, I would guess that it was most likely spent with others – friends or family. The idea of experiencing these blissful moments with one another is something I would really like to encourage within our School of Play culture. I believe that making moments and memories as a group greatly enhances the children’s experience at school and allowing them to feel ‘Hygge’ within an environment that is not typically ‘cosy’ will only contribute towards their happiness in school. We can do this by encouraging conversation and group discussions in our breakfast clubs, after school clubs and holiday clubs.
Although activities such as arts and crafts, sports and play are a huge part of our club, we focus on good conversation, whether that be between the children themselves or between a playworker and the children. Now, imagine the feeling you get when you’re in a lovely conversation at, let’s say, an adult dinner party with a group of close friends. You’re learning about each other’s lives, laughing and joking over a big glass of red. That warm, sort of, fuzzy feeling you get inside is ‘Hygge’. And my point is that children can feel that too- of course without the big bottle of merlot, perhaps some grape juice instead! When they begin these conversations with friends and learn about each other, they are likely to feel more at ease and they will feel a sense of belonging as we also do as adults. The sharing of thoughts and feelings is so gratifying and I believe it is one of the main elements of Hygge.
There are so, and I mean sooo, many more elements to the feeling of Hygge that I could go on forever trying to describe it. But without writing a full-on book about it, I would just love for us Brits to strive for this feeling in all aspects of our lives- even at work! I feel that if our society implemented just a small amount of Hygge into our way of living, we would perhaps all be just that bit happier and maybe one day we could rank THE happiest country in the world… I already feel that parts of Greater Manchester are slowly beginning to replicate this feeling in local areas such as Urmston, Didsbury and Chorlton- these community-based areas with many small cafes and parks scream Hygge to me and I am excited for the future of our beautiful city.
Thanks for Reading- Dream big and feel ‘Hygge’!
If you would like any more information on this blog I would recommend reading the book ‘The Little Book Of Hygge- The Danish Way To Live Well’ by Meik Wiking’.