Tuesday, 1 November 2016

What day is it anyway?

Who knew that Hallowe'en was an opportunity for satyrical commentary? Not me! However, it seems that guests at the best people's "Hallowe'en bashes" were dressing up in costumes that did just that. Here is a link to some photos.

Somebody was celebrating Hallowe'en a little too enthusiastically and until a Iittle too late an hour last night. In the wee, small hours singing, group singing of the almost tuneless kind favoured by people who have drunk too much, was going on just across the road from our hotel. Maybe it was on the beach. There were certainly two or three signs along the boardwalk this morning of somebody having overindulged and been unable to contain it any longer.

I did not get out of bed to investigate. You never know; they might have been a coven of witches. It was Hallowe'en, after all. And I did not want to be turned into a toad, or any other amphibious creature for that matter. Besides I was comfortable in my bed. Getting out would have woken me fully and I might have had difficulty getting back to sleep.

According to something I read the other day, the comfortable-in-my-bed sensation I was experiencing was "hygge". Pronounce "hue-guh" this is a Danish word, usually translated as "cosiness" but in fact meaning a whole lot more. It is hygge, that untranslatable quality of places, people and togetherness prized by Danes above almost all else.

Here are some comments:

 "Hygge is when you treat yourself, it’s not that healthy, but it’s good food."

 “We are very proud of this word hygge. Everybody has a little laugh when you say hygge.”

Books have been written about it. But it may be a fragile thing and even when hygge is established, it is easily destroyed. “The hygge can disappear just like that,” say the experts. “When someone says something wrong, you can feel it, it makes a suction through your body.”

Every language seems to have a word which they reckon is untranslatable. The galicians have "morriña" - a nostalgic sadness, felt especially when you are far from home and long to return there but perhaps cannot do so because you have had to emigrate to look for work. The Germans have "schadenfreude", which has gone into English usage. And now we have the Danish "hygge".

Do we have any special English words? Well, I suppose you could try the Northwest of England's use of "nesh", to describe the kind of softy who needs to put extra layers on as soon as the temperature goes below 20 degrees, when everyone knows you can still walk around without a jacket even in the snow!

Languages are funny. Take the Portuguese names for the days of the week. In every other Romance (Latin based) language I have come across the days of the week are recognisably similar. The French have "lundi, mardi, mercedi, jeudi, vendredi, samedi, dimanche", the Spanish, "lunes, martes, mièrcoles, jueves, viernes, sábado, domingo" and the Italians, "lunedi, martedi, mercores, jovedi, venerdi, sabato, domenica". But the Portuguese give you, "segunda feira, terça feira, quarta feira, quinta feira, sexta feira, sabado, domingo". So you start the week with a recognisable Sunday, "domingo", and then you get into second day, third day, fourth day and so on. I have to start counting days on my fingers if I want to work out when things are happening, or even just to know what day it

This is just the kind of thing that can ruin your sense of "hygge".

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