A singular stick
nourished to fullness
remains easily broken
of finest stone
in the slightest breeze
set on the wind
I, Ben, might be moving to Copenhagen…People in Minnesota have often confused me as being from one of these Scandinavian countries because of some sort of “accent” they hear on my voice. About a year ago a women was so convinced that I was actually from Denmark that she simply refused to accept that I was from Iowa. Also, the past few winters, I have attempted to adopt the Danish concept of “Hygge” into my daily life. More on that soon. I take these all as signs that maybe Denmark has been calling all these years…Don’t worry Mom, I don’t really think it’ll happen 😉
After hopping off the train from Lauenburg, we stepped onto the streets and realized that they have a different idea of what streets should be. Instead of road and sidewalk, they have an automotive road, a bike road, then a sidewalk. As a result, over 50% of all residents bike to work and use bikes as their primary mode of transportation! It’s a city whose busy streets are not cluttered with honking horns, but smiling faces on bicycles with baskets.
On top of that we’ve come to learn that employees have a minimum 5 weeks vacation (many employers offer and encourage more), 12-month maternity leave, universal health care, free higher education, a vocational education path, 3 years of free Danish classes if immigrating, “night ravens” (locals who volunteer on weekends to help make sure people get home safely), and many more things that this staunch Bernie supporter swooned over. Also, simple things we’ve noticed reflect an embrace of ideas of cooperation and conservation. For example, we saw a relatively new brick wall built along a park. A thick tree branch jutted out in a way that would disrupt the wall. Instead of cutting out the branch or entire tree as one would expect, a fenced portion of the wall was built that allowed room for the tree branch to continue to grow while maintaining an effective wall. Brilliant! And last but not least, a concept that eludes direct translation, “Hygge.” It is pronounced something like “HUE-gah.”
The closest translation is “cozy” but it carries with it more than just physical comforts. It can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adjective. One brief definition I’ve read says, “A fundamental quality of Danish culture, Hygge cannot be translated using a single word. Rather, it includes many of the pleasures we associate with everyday living – relaxing with friends, enjoying good food, and creating a cozy evening by lighting a candle or two.” For a more extended read on the idea, check this article out.
We enjoyed a night of Hygge during our last night in Lauenburg. Many families gathered for about 30 minutes of music then enjoyed the back patio together until bed time for the kiddos. So, in the spirit of Hygge, we invite you to casually join us on the back patio for our full performance at the Jugendherberge in Lauenburg. Maybe grab a glass of wine, a cup of coffee or tea, a loved one, light some candles, and take a moment to slow down and enjoy togetherness and music. Mark Landson, we’d like to dedicate this one to you!
In Copenhagen, after a day venturing through the cemetery where Hans Christian Andersen and Soren Kierkegaard are buried, we met up with an old friend of Baylen’s, Alex Murray. She currently lives in Copenhagen and showed us some great spots about town. We played some music after dark on the main canal and then headed off to a bar that was so Hygge. Here is a video from the cemetery dedicated to Sarah Richardson and then one from the main canal dedicated to Matt Latchaw. Enjoy!
Candlelight, homemade snickerdoodles, a drink, old friends and new, a carpenter’s bench for a table, and old, worn chairs. Here’s to Hygge!