• Йоана Христова

Rediscover Scandinavia: traditions to learn from (part 1)

Did you know that some of the happiest people on the planet live far up north? Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland are typically on top of the world’s lists for factors such as happiness, prosperity, and universal social protection. But what makes the northern peoples so happy? We present to you a few Scandinavian traditions which probably lie at the base of the renowned Scandinavian happiness:

The Danish understanding of coziness(hygge)

Imagine a cozy, quiet dinner with friends, lit by the soft light of aroma candles. The flames are cracking in the fireplace, dinner is bubbling on the stove, and you are having a sweet, nonchalant conversation, playing games, or knitting woolen socks. Can it get any more hygge than that?

The Danish philosophy known as hygge does not have a direct translation in Bulgarian but in general terms it means the sense of coziness and the enjoyment of small moments. You may taste it - sipping a hot cup of coffee, feel it -reading a good book or breathe it with the smell of freshly baked cookies. In other words, the hygge philosophy offers you the very best of everyday life. Next time you feel nervous, stressed, or tired of your mundane daily routine, think of the Danish hygge. Danes do know how to make their lives a bit lighter and nicer, don’t you think?

Swedish moderation (lagom)

Not too much and not too little but exactly as needed. Lagom is a typical Swedish term which describes the art of living in harmony. Swedish moderation can be observed in their functional architecture, clean design, and unpretentious cuisine. At the same time lagom refers to a deeper concept which includes the realization and appreciation of what we have. “In the modern world we can have anything at any time. Lagom is the antidote we all need” says the clinical psychologist Dr. Jessamy Hibberd for Daily Telegraph.

But how do we apply Lagom in our everyday lives? Forget extreme ends – there is no need to work 12 hours a day, work out until you pass out or be the best at everything. Take a slow walk, get a time off and enjoy your favourite guilty pleasure. The Swedish word fika stands for just such a thing – a coffee break with a traditional treat, or a simple reminder that it is time to slow down.

It seems that Danes and Swedes know how to enjoy life. The same applies for their neighbours - the Norwegians, who enjoy life in the open country (friluftsliv). Finnish people on the other hand cannot make do without their favourite sauna and great many of the Icelandic people still believe in elves. But more on that next week. In the meantime, don’t forget to be moderate and to enjoy life! :)