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Getting to know Jan Brett's work
Do you know who Jan Brett is? If you said no, I bet you’re wrong.
Do you remember, as a kid in grade school, reading a book about a kid who loses a white mitten in the snow? The animals of the forest, knowing cozy outerwear when they see it, climb in one by one, each animal bigger than the last. And then you all cut out mitten shapes from paper and got to use the STAPLER to stick the two pieces together into a mitten-shaped pouch, into which you popped your colored-in animals, thus replicating the story before your very eyes. I KNOW I am not the only one who did that at least once growing up. If you have a very similar memory, you can thank Jan Brett.
Celebrating the Cozy to Stave Off the Winter Blues
Though hygge is a defining characteristic of the Danish people, the term originates from a Norwegian word that means “well-being.” Just like the concept of well-being, hygge is nuanced, complex, and hard to define. It has been described as “the art of creating intimacy,” “coziness of the soul,” “like a hug without touching” or – my personal favorite – “cocoa by candlelight.” Hygge is a sense of safety, created through your physical, emotional, and social environment. It is experienced with all five senses – touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing. To the Danes hygge is both a noun and a verb. “Would you like to come over tonight and hygge?” Its derivative, “hyggelige” is both an adjective and an adverb. “That lamp is so hyggelige!” But to me, hygge is permission to celebrate winter – as best I can.
As someone who didn’t grow up in Denmark – or has even been to Denmark for that matter – hygge has become deeply personal. Winter is exceptionally trying for me. I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This means that, I am especially sensitive to changes in light. As soon as the days start diminishing, I start experiencing symptoms of depression. I feel hopeless or worthless. I lose interest in activities I usually enjoy. I feel sluggish and agitated. I am depressed. Some people call it “winter blues,” but don’t let the whimsical name fool you, when people experience SAD there is nothing whimsical about it.
Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
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