At this time of the year American magazines are full of articles with advice on how to get through Thanksgiving without conflicts and how to handle difficult family members. I think Americans could use a little of the Danish cultural concept of “hygge” (coziness/togetherness). If there is one thing Danes are really good at, it is to enjoy festive events with family and friends because we have this tradition of hygge.
Last night I visited thedanishway.com website and read an article about how the world is taking on hygge. Hygge is first and foremost about having a good and relaxing time together. There is almost an unspoken rule in Denmark not to let family strifes and disagreements ruin social celebrations like Christmas and birthdays. Disputes, everyday stress and negativity are left on the front steps and saved for later.
So when you get together with your family and/or friends this Thanksgiving focus on having a good and relaxing time and save whatever bothers you with some people for another time. Prioritize what is good and fun for the group and not for yourself as an individual. Thedanishway.com even has a “hygge oath” which can be downloaded and printed for everyone to see and maybe even sign.
Hygge as parenting trick
Hygge is not only saved for special holiday events. It is deeply ingrained in Danish everyday life and you can use the hygge oath or the idea of hygge as a way of making your family life happier. In fact people around the world are turning to the Danes to learn why Danish children seem happier and calmer than other children. I personally find the Danish emphasis on free unstructured play and hygge/togetherness to be some of the most important factors but there is definitely more to it. You can read about this in Jessica Alexander and Iben Sandahl’s book “The Danish Way of Parenting” which is now also published English and available in the U.S.
Oh and speaking of hygge – have you bought yourself a bunch of tea candles for this cold and dark season yet? If you want to be as happy as a Dane I advice you to do it sooner rather than later;)