My Sweater's Too Hyggelicious For Ya, Babe


As you lie, stomachs groaning, amidst a forest of turkey carcasses and casserole dishes, it is only natural that your thoughts will turn to the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced like "hooga"), i.e. the cultural notion of COZINESS OF HEART that keeps Denmark among the happiest countries in the world even while it is also one of the darkest, coldest places in the world.  At least, that's what your mind will turn to if you, like your Dames, became aware of the concept last year during its brief, viral moment in the sun (which inspired Sophie to make it her theme word of the year & create a ready-for-revival Pinterest board about it). If, however, it's a new concept to you or if, like Margaret, Mother Nature Network's definition left you equally intrigued and confused, then let us offer the best explanation we've found so far, courtesy of The Xenophobe's Guide to the Danes (via Fathom Travel):Hygge is usually inadequately translated as "coziness." This is too simplistic: coziness relates to physical surroundings — a jersey can be cozy, or a warm bed — whereas hygge has more to do with people's behavior towards each other. It is the art of creating intimacy: a sense of comradeship, conviviality, and contentment rolled into one.Friends meeting in the street might say that it has been hyggeligt to see each other, and someone who is fun to be with can be called a hyggelig fyr, when he would hardly be described as a "cozy fellow." The truly emotive depth of the word hyggelig is best captured by considering its opposite, uhyggeligt, which means anything from cheerless through sinister to downright shocking and grisly.To have a hyggelig time is social nirvana in Denmark. Candlelight is used to encourage a hyggelig atmosphere. In fact, the Danes are mad about candles and use them everywhere, both in public places like cafes, bars, restaurants and offices, and in the home. The dim lighting helps to soften the clean, uncluttered surfaces and uncompromising white walls that are typical features of Danish living rooms. Everyone's ideal is to have a Christiania kakkelovn (antique stove) or an open fireplace and feel the warmth from its hyggelige glow.Achieving hygge generally involves being with friends and family, and eating and drinking. Older Danes are horrified to hear of youngsters who hygger themselves alone on the sofa with a rented video and family-size bag of sweets.We contemplated writing our own definition, but this one seemed to great to paraphrase. Because this sentence--"It is the art of creating intimacy: a sense of comradeship, conviviality, and contentment rolled into one"-- seems to describe your Dames' style nearly as well as "paragraphic yet breezy." ALSO!!! THE DANISH WORD FOR LADY IS DAME!!!!! So we this week are TWO HYGGELIG DAMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHH! Also because truly, every activity Danes identify as hygge in this video (eating cakes when it's dark and cold outside, candles, watching TV under blankets) can safely be called Your Hyggelig Dames' Favorites. 

Now that the concept is defined, here are a handful of cultural prescriptions for creating it in your hearts and minds. Hyggelicious Recipes

Your dames are big believers in high-low mixes - in fashion, culture, and effort. It's NOT hygge to drive yourself nuts working so hard on dinner for your chums and beloveds that you are too tired to enjoy it, yourself. 
 Start with Margaret's favorite no-effort appetizer: Honeycrisp apples, sliced thin + goat cheese brie (available at your local Trader Joe's or most places fine cheeses are sold) + a loaf of your favorite good bread + a bottle of your favorite wine. Slight-effort entree: Nigella Lawson is one of Sophie's longtime favorite kitchen mavens, and when it comes to feeding a large group of people something simple & irresistibly tasty and comforting, you can't do better than Linguine with Garlic Oil & Pancetta, which consists of 1/2 pound each of linguine (cooked al dente) and pancetta, plus 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and as much parsley and shredded pecorino (way more affordable than parmesan). You can add other things - defrosted baby peas, leftover roast vegetables, sauteed mushrooms, lemon zest - or not. It's so simple and so good.Sophie's family are also fans of a dinner called Sling It In The Oven, which consists of buying favorite frozen savory treats at the supermarket, arranging them haphazardly on baking trays and heating them up according to the instructions on the box, so that we can spend 10 extra minutes putting together delicious beverages.Almost all drinks are rendered especially festive by adding seltzer. Toss some frozen berries in there, or slices of just about any fruit you have lying around the house, to make a sober, yet festive, spritzer. You can also go the toddy route, or slap some cinnamon sticks and whole cloves in a pan with apple cider for a steaming mug of hygge.Dessert can be something as simple as your favorite store-bought cookies and a bunch of grapes. You could also go a little higher-effort the day before, though, and pull off this Maple Spice Apple Crisp by Pal-of-the-Dames Connor, which is perfect with ice cream, sorbet or a splash of heavy cream.Hyggelicious MusicThis Tiny Desk Concert by The Danish String Quartet, performing selections from their truly lovely collection of traditional Danish folk songs, Wood Works (which is also available on Spotify). The song "Turn a Light On" by Kathryn Calder, particularly the music video, which is like a vision board for what my brain conjures when it hears the word hygge. Off her exquisite and too-little-known album, Bright and Vivid is also here for you (BuySpotify). Sophie's favorite Founding Father, Ben Franklin, invented a super-hygge instrument called the glass armonica, which produces music that is coziness made audible. Here's a video of glass armonica expert and Ben Franklin re-enactor William Zeitler performing "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy" on his! (The glass armonica also made a notable appearance in the soundtrack of the 1999 film adaptation of Mansfield Park. Swoon.)Hyggelicious MoviesA Little Princess (1995) (Available for digital rental; streaming on Hulu+) -- Danger: ugly crying alert, but deemed hygge for the satisfying ending and the beautiful scene where Sara and Becky's attic garret gets transformed into an Indian palace. The Shop Around the Corner (1940) (Available for digital rental) -- This is kind of cheating, because this is a Christmas movie and practically every Christmas movie is hygge from top to bottom. But this one--which has been remade many times, most famously as You've Got Mail-- for the way it digs into the lives of all the employees of Matuschek & Co., and for its Hungarian setting, seems particularly apt. One of Margaret's very favorite movies. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) (Available for digital rental) -- Although Rushmore will forever be Sophie's favorite Wes Anderson movie, this is probably his single best venture, layering his unending concerns with fathers and sons, ambition, and belonging,  neatly over Roald Dahl's story, all wrapped up in stop-motion animation perfection.Robin Hood (1973) (Streaming on Netflix & available for digital rental) -- there's something especially hygge about foxes, isn't there? What is it? If you have thoughts, tell us! Anyway, this is one of the best Not Golden Age Disney films there is: class struggle, true love, memorable musical numbers, and the off-screen influence of Eleanor of Aquitaine (the "Mummy" for whom Prince John so memorably wails in moments of crisis). Bonus reading: Mallory's investigation of The Rise & Fall of Fox Civilization in Disney Films.Hyggelicious BooksA Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson: A Russian countess displaced by the Revolution takes up work as a housemaid in a British estate on the brink of financial ruin. Exactly what you expect to happen between she and the estates's young, handsome, shell-shocked owner does happen, but with more warmth, charm, wit, and hygge than you could ever imagine if you've not read an Eva Ibbotson book before. Read it now. Thank Margaret later. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: A woman who writes her name inside all of her books begins exchanging letters with the man who bought her old copy of Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb. Many new friendship and extreme cozniess ensues. A delightful epistolary novel with many characters, each voice distinct, each phenomenally appealing. Hard to get more hygge than this.All The Small Poems and Fourteen More, by Valerie Worth (with pictures by Natalie Babbitt): if you haven't read these truly delightful poems about everyday objects and creatures, which speak squarely to both adults and children, you owe it to yourself to dive into them today.The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, by Susan Wittig Albert: Remember how horrible last February was? This series of cozy mysteries, which present Beatrix Potter as an intuitive, humane and stubbornly independent accidental lady detective, basically saved Sophie's life. The audiobooks are uniformly charming, too. Twee as Hell
These dapper felted animals inspired by Charles Dickens characters; pictured above-- Pickwick Possum. IKEA's little toddler bed, at its smallest setting, is also a perfect size for cats. And dogs. And rabbits.File under: NEEDED IMMEDIATELY: These beautiful bookends crafted to look like miniature landscapes.This almost unspeakably zen video of an artist carving and painting a traditional Japanese Kokeshi doll out of a spinning block of wood.​A super-colorful little vintagey paper typewriter/desk calendar, because why not?Blossom Dearie singing "Surrey With The Fringe On Top". YES. Her "I Like London In The Rain" is pretty effing hygge, too. Swan about in your woolly socks and oversized sweater, with a cup of tea in your hand.​Unrelated To Anything Else Contained Herein But Of Interest To Us and Hopefully To You, Too 

Subscribers to Today in Tabs know Bijan Stephen as Rusty Foster's trusty intern. This week, he stepped into the spotlight, and the result is beautiful and devastating, and a must-read. Jay Smooth on Ferguson, riots & human limits is perfect in every way. On a (much, MUCH) lighter note, we recommend the fascinating culinary history of how celery and olives went from the two must-have items for any Thankgsiving feast to forgotten altogether in just 40 years. We think a lot about adolescence & social media, so TIME's recent piece on how tween & teen girls use Instagram is a natural fit, as is Hanna Rosin's coverage of a sexting-Instagrammingsituation in Virginia. PBS Idea Channel's playlist Guide to Common Fallacies is an Internet Treasure. Bookmark it now for getting derailed FB conversations back on track. George Eliot, hero of middle age. (By gum, Sophie is going to read Middlemarch this winter, for real.) The only problem with this recap of Hayley Mills' early career is that it doesn't include any reference to The Trouble With Angels, about a young troublemaker who grows up to be a nun. And finally, looking for a dog? This chart shows you why Welsh springer spaniels are a better choice than bulldogs.