I can’t pronounce it but hygge seems to be big this autumn with a plethora of books popping up, candles named after it and even plaudits for it being a great approach to parenting. If you haven’t come across it, this Danish phenomenon is a little hard to sum up but it encompasses cosiness, candles and conviviality. It suggests a more compassionate, gentler way of life which offers a sense of security and safety.
I first came across the term almost a year ago, during a surprise weekend away for my birthday organised by my two sons. As we were preparing to go our separate ways after a lovely time together, my elder son, who lives in The Netherlands, said that it had been gezelligheid (I can’t pronounce that either, although I am trying to learn some of the language). I was charmed – for Dutch people this sums up the simple pleasure of just being with a group of people and feeling warm and welcomed – very like hygge. My other son was spending a lot of time in Denmark for work by coincidence, and expanded more.
So how does all this relate to Inkpots?
We have just reached the end of our first half term of the academic year – and I can honestly say that every session at all the schools has been a delight. Some of the older ones may have heard adults talk about hygge, but I’m sure the majority are completely unaware, yet they seem to naturally embrace the principles.
Day in, day out I see children working together, supporting each other and generally creating a lovely, warm atmosphere. There have been quite a few new children at various groups this term but they have been welcomed into Inkpots by the other children. Small acts of kindness are a regular occurrence.
When I talk about Inkpots I always stress how important it is that the workshops are safe, secure places for the children. I can establish ground rules and talk to the children about how we value being kind to each other at Inkpots. But it’s the children themselves that create the warmth and the welcome.
Hygge is alive and well and thriving at Inkpots! So much so, there are plans to launch a new online group – Inkpots Inc – in the near future which will, hopefully, spread more of the same.
(If you would like to read more about hygge, a piece appeared in The Guardian just a few days ago.)