We’re still in early winter and Hygge-mania has firmly gripped our nation once again. All around the country people are lusting over coordinated sweater outfits and perfectly poured lattes. We’re planning Hygge dinner parties and posting perfectly poised fireside photographs on instagram. It is all very romantic and refined, but what is there to put the fire in your belly?
It’s all missing a certain wildness, a danger if you will. Where’s the excitement, the ingenuity? Canada has more winter wilderness than any other country (except maybe Russia, but I don’t see anyone lining up to ‘do winter like the Russians do’).
We live in a country that was established by warriors, pioneers and explorers. Our traditions are built on a culture of making it yourself or doing without. That’s why we have downhill ski clubs in one of the flattest places on earth. We just make our own ‘mountains’ … out of garbage.
Let’s consider the Hygge style dinner party. When you page through the glossy pages of Hygge Today (I made this name up, but it probably exists) you see a group of people sitting comfortably at a table set with candles and matching dinnerware, not a hair out of place. Hello Hygge (I did not make this up, it’s a real website) has several recommendations for doing this perfectly. They include: getting the lighting right, keeping the guest list small and thinking about how different personalities will complement each other, engaging in light conversation (including avoidance of awkward moments) and filling your house with comforting smells and sounds.
Everything has been meticulously planned and coordinated. It’s all very beautiful and refined, but it’s not very Canadian.
Let’s peak in at a Canadian ‘dinner party’ shall we? In place of ‘engaging light conversation’ you are more likely to hear: “Come on in, we just made up some chilli, there’s biscuits too, if Doug has left any. What’re ya drinking? Must have a clean mug here somewhere.” Never mind that you started out snowmobiling with friends and you don’t recognize anyone. You must have been invited, otherwise why would you be there? You leave your boots on the mat, drop your parka in the corner with the others and join in the fray.
Now I’m not trying to pick on the Scandinavians, I’m sure they’re lovely people. But if we’re being them then who is going to be us? Let’s celebrate winter the way of the Canadian, with brash humour and the utmost politeness (and yes autocorrect, I did mean to put a ‘u’ in humour). Throughout the winter I’m going to be telling our stories, past and present. Stories of grit, resilience, occasional monotony and a bit of stupidity thrown in for good measure. Stories of people who did what had to be done, regardless of how brisk it was outside, because who else was going to do it? Stories of people finding joy in the everyday and the extraordinary.