Hygge: Embracing the Winter

By Rachael Jennings

Cozying up to a novel by the fireside in Lehmann, wearing warm flannel shirts on Fridays, piling into the Common Room for tea and conversation, sledding down the hill by the FAB, going on a winter hike, grabbing a mug of hot cocoa from Mr. McFall in between classes on Wednesdays, playing pond hockey near Hill House on Wednesday nights.

Winter has fallen, and Dublin School is embracing “hygge.” 

The Danish word (pronounced “hooga”) is a concept that we at Dublin have come to know and celebrate. As BBC’s Justin Parkinson in “Hygge: a Heartwarming Lesson from Denmark” writes, it is “usually translated into English as “cosiness.” But it’s much more than that, say its aficionados. [It’s] an entire attitude to life that helps Denmark to vie with Switzerland and Iceland to be the world’s happiest country.”

The question is: what makes you happy? What makes us happy at Dublin? Mr. Maguire says that his version of hygge is “shredding the gnar.” He loves to ski, and he cannot wait to bring student skiers to the forty-eight trails of Okemo. 

For Mr. Bates, Head of School, it is: “skiing with our students on the upper trails, enjoying the twilight glow, and hearing them laugh and holler.”

Ms. Ann Brehm notes that winter is her favorite season. In her poetic words, “A fresh snow cleans the world and gives us a fresh slate.  Moonlight on snow sparkles, so if feels as though I am surrounded by stars above and below.  Skiing, skating, sledding remind me to be adventurous!”

For others, indeed, hygge is about getting outside; it is about winter sports and competition. As Mr. McFall shared on Tuesday, this year will see the second annual Winter Wildcat Challenge. With twenty tasks to complete, students, faculty and staff members, and family members have great adventures ahead. (For more details on the Winter Wildcat Challenge, see the last page of the newsletter).

And yet, in certain moments, hygge is just laughing in the dorm, huddled together around some hot cocoa, working hard and enjoying the community that we have. Sometimes, hygge is simply that community.

Parkinson, citing blogger Anna Lea West, clarifies that an English definition extends not just to “cosiness” but “cosiness of the soul.” Parkinson goes on to quote translator ToveMaren Stakkestad, who notes: “Hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt.” 

We feel it at Dublin School, and we look forward to the warmth this winter brings.