I ship world wide but if you would like to see my artwork in real life, you can find it the Grove Bookshop, Ilkley, the Picture Framer Shop in Knaresborough, on the Railway Station platform and at Michael Cohrt, Lumsås, DK. My home studio is open by appointment only. Contact me via livsmalerier@gmail.com or via direct message on Instagram: sussi.louise

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mandag den 16. januar 2017

Danish Hygge - the original kind. The one with high taxes and lots of family time

Hygge has at least two rather different elements to it. On the one side we have the 'stuff'... Live candles, throws, huge tea mugs, well insulated houses, great cakes, cooking (read: wholesome and preferably including a lot of potatoes and cabbage) (and pork, and sausages).

On the other side there is the cultural history, the implications for how we organise our lives and not least hygge's effects on social interaction and society In this sense Danish Hygge is quite different. On the surface, Hygge is just a nice thing that anyone can do with a few Home-baked cakes and candles, and nobody needs the Danes to teach them how to be cosy or create an ambience. Most European countries have that covered. The Anglo-Saxon society as it has developed across the isle of Britain surely does.

Much more at issue for the Danish is how Hygge is actually is incorporated in how we do it. How we prioritise family and friendships, because we can. How we use the outside (Hygge is not a seasonal thing, it's an everyday thing, all year round). Hygge influences how and what we cook, how we organise schools and learning; how architecture is described, how political and economic factors are measured in terms of sustainability, both fiscal (economic growth) and Socially (quality of life for the citizens of Denmark).

And happiness and sustainability are two major elements in the Danish welfare model. Both the official AND the informal. Whether you can actually justifiably link Hygge and welfare state, is a different discussion. Hygge existed before the welfare state as we know it, but the welfare state makes it almost a duty to participate. So we have ourselves a Chicken and egg situation. Did Denmark develop a welfare state because we already had the perfect basis or has the welfare state just made Hygge more evident?

I'm not making this up. If Bourdieu was alive he'd make a million dots on a matrix and call hygge cultural capital. Becher in his book:  'Academic Tribes and Territories' scratches the surface if this culturally embedded phenomenon, but really it's about much more.

Discourse analysis of news media (fake or not) will show a myriad of complex hegemonic discourses that determine what a Dane considers Hygge and not. But for me, the best approach is a proper carnivalistic polyphonic angle (go Mikhail Bakhtin ). Hygge has so many voices, rituals and traditions. They are all bound to and sometimes within, families, geographical areas, friendship groups, workplaces.

Every Dane thinks he is unique. News flash, we're not really. You will have to look far and wide to find a more homogeneous, coherent or conform country than Denmark. I challenge you (ok Iceland doesn't count, but other than that, it's open season). Danes are a good 5 million people. We can get from one end to the other in max 3,5 hours, if we go backwards in an UP. We don't do pubs, we eat at home. We dress for comfort more than style, even though we'd like to think our casual comfortable style is classy, even on the bicycle highways in the snow.

Obviously a lot of Copenhagen is exempt from this conversation. What happens in Copenhagen, stays in Copenhagen. Much like London is not representative for what goes on up here in the North. All the talk of Scandinavian minimalism, we love it! Do we live it, no. At least not the vast majority of us. The craze about Scandi-style that you can find on BBCs Interior Design Challenge or in the fancy lifestyle magazines…. Not representative.

I have friends who live like that, and it is majestic, but they too have studys, guest bedrooms that are like everyone else's, overfilled and overflowing.

The Hygge culture is about authentic, full on togetherness. No phones, no conflicts, and no bragging. It often entails excess. No silly Swedish Lagom here. We Danish eat chocolate and sweets to excess, more than most countries, we drink, people still smoke, and they like it too. Not me, but you know we all have our flaws. We have wild gardens, fifth generation cars and second hand prams for our babies. If our children are asleep in the pram, we leave it outside the café and if 'Solvej' starts crying, somebody sticks their head through the door and shouts:"Anyone got a screamer in a blue pram outside?".  It's pretty naïve, very safe and very trusting. All Very Hyggeligt.

I have a read some incredible awesome Danish academic articles about the whole thing. And it is evident, that the omnipresence of Hygge in Danish culture is almost unfathomable. Even to Danes. They often don't think about it much, it's sort of... just like breathing.  But it's not the point really I guess.  It is however one of the reasons I had a total hissy fit when this craze started in England.  I couldn't deal with the bastardisation of traditions and rituals that is so dear to me and everyone I know. It's how I survived losing mum and dad to Cancer within a month. It IS how I cope with loving someone with cancer. It is how friends and family interact and help and have fun with each other.

It's not without its drawbacks not at all. It socially exclusive and riddled with idiosyncratic rituals. But it is my  'home' and it is a form of happiness I recognise. That's why I've started doing the after dinner talks. So people can get a chance to hear about the impact Hygge has on a whole society and why the total Hygge experience is difficult to achieve in the UK.

Even if it meant that people would feel safe and all education was not just free, but you get paid a stipend to study from the age of 18, can you see people in the UK signing up to start paying between 38-62%tax on all earnings over 5.000 £? Or an argument that a 36.5 hour working week is MORE efficient that a 45 holding its ground?

In other words to be free, as the Danes repeatedly declare they feel, you have to trust, and sign over your money, your social security number and every single thing you do will be logged and kept. It is a project that involves working on the collective success more than the individual's? I'd love it if it were possible to get a similar level of welfare and trust in the UK. I just don't see it.

So it's the everyday life changes we can make that we must focus on here. Carving time out for each other, no phones, no big discussions, no host- or boasting. Being honest, Authentic and Loving. Not just to the people we know, but to ourselves and to strangers. It pays off, big time. And FYI no Dane wears those mega knitted socks and sweaters indoor… we insulate our houses.

SORRY, got on the soapbox again, it’s a slippery thing.

Rant over. Promise

#hygge #hyggeisasuperpower #danesareweird #actionforhappiness

#hygge #hyggeisasuperpower #danesareweird #actionforhappiness