Beaumaris is one of our favourite places so a wild windy evening on the Menai Straits wasn’t going to put us off.
Tonight is the much anticipated Hygge Christmas Evening at Janet Bell’s Gallery.
If you don’t know Janet Bell – she paints the most delightful pictures of the local Welsh coastline and mountains. Janet has established herself as a well known and loved brand in North Wales and you’ll see her distinctive images on lounge walls across Anglesey and beyond – including ours.
By 6pm, Beaumaris High Street was dark – lit only by the occasional glowing streetlamp and the Castle floodlit red perhaps for Remembrance. The shops were closed for the day and the residents were all tucked up in their cottages and townhouses – so the candlit windows of Janet Bell’s Gallery gave a truly warm welcome to visitors and shoppers.
Hygge (pronounced hooga) is the buzz word of the season.
No less than 9 books have been published this year around the idea of hygge and every cover features some combination of roaring fires, cosy socks, and hot chocolate. Thought to be untranslatable, it is the Danish concept of cosiness, warmth, and sharing good food and drink with friends round a roaring fire. It’s about being toasty and involves a lot of candles and comfort food.
The BBC News Magazine describes hygge like this “Sitting by the fire on a cold night, wearing a woolly jumper, while drinking mulled wine and stroking a dog – probably surrounded by candles. That’s definitely hygge. Eating home-made cinnamon pastries. Watching TV under a duvet. Tea served in a china set. Family get-togethers at Christmas. They’re all hygge too. The Danish word is usually translated into English as “cosiness”. But it’s much more than that, say its aficionados – an entire attitude to life that helps Denmark to vie with Switzerland and Iceland to be the world’s happiest country”
The Germans come close with Gemutlichkeit, a sense of wellbeing based on good food and drink and great company. But the Danes insist that their hygge is a unique concept. The blogger Anna Lea West translates it as ‘cosiness of the soul’. but translator ToveMaren Stakkestad has written
“Hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt”
Maybe the only way to really understand is to actually visit Denmark and see for yourself.
So when we saw the invitation to be part of a Hygge evening so close to home – we were first in the queue.
Janet Bell’s Danish Mother Anna, has grown up with the joyful traditions that make hygge. We were welcomed with Danish Glogg, a delicious version of Mulled Wine with the joyful addition of rum soaked raisins and pumpkin seeds. This was accompanied by colourful canapés -prawns and smoked salmon on tiny squares of toasted rye bread.
With the lights turned low, and the candles burning warmly a glass of Glogg goes a long way to ignite the Christmas spirit.
The shop was decked out with a gorgeous array of Christmas decorations and gifts – sparkly and festive but with that understated Scandinavian style. There is a simplicity about this type of decoration that the UK has adopted and you see it everywhere these days.
If we are to take the hygge spirit to heart, then our lives will be simpler and more thoughtful. We will be more concerned about people – our family and real friends. We will want to create memories that last a lifetime, experiences that will stay with us. We will crave an authentic style of living that puts value in the right places. And this will be for all year round, not just Christmas.
Back at Janet Bell’s we were treated to live music from Rosie Highstead – all the Christmas classics that stir up nostalgia in buckets. Mr Bond was surprised to be called up to the microphone and add his crooning harmonies to “White Christmas”. He did great, it sounded lovely and a great choice of song for someone who looks forward to a dusting of snow more than most.
I set myself to making a Danish Christmas bow which is a little trickier than it looks and involves 4 strips of patterned paper and lots of intricate folding. For someone that is not the least bit crafty, Ann was quite pleased with my accomplishment. Hmm I wonder if I could make this out of sugarpaste?
With a 10% discount off everything, it would have been rude not to purchase some goodies so we treated ourselves to 2 new rustic pottery mugs (to add to our extensive collection!) and a few cute decorations to put on our tree – in December, and not a moment before!
We drove home feeling all warm and fuzzy, quite festive and looking forward to creating some hygge of our own.
If you’re still not sure what it’s all about – then join me in smiling at this checklist I found in the Observer which sums it all up pretty well
Things That Are Hygge
- Comfy chairs
- Things made of wood, or ceramic
- Lots of books
- Big sweaters
- Wool socks
- Hot chocolate with marshmallows
Things That Are Not Hygge
- Salads with low-fat dressing
- Foie gras
- Airport bathrooms
- Going to the club
- High heels
- High fashion
- Eating celery to lose weight
- Uncomfortable chairs
Convinced yet? I think it’s quite simple really. Just ditch the high heels, pour yourself a Mulled Wine and enjoy the season in a meaningful and memorable way.