On my last day in San Diego, a good friend returned home after working in Europe with a study abroad program for the summer. Most of her time was spent in the Netherlands but she was also able to go back to Denmark, where she had studied abroad several years ago. When I picked her up from the airport, not only was I the beneficiary of some great tales (falling off bikes, strange roommates, and watching the American Olympic basketball team in Spain), but also of two handmade candle holders from the Danish harbor.
In her note that accompanied, she explained their significance.
In Denmark they use a lot of little candles in the homes, esp. in the cold dark winters months. When I was studying there, I really treasured coming home, sitting around with all the lights & talking the night away with my host family. This cozy atmosphere is called “hygge” in Danish.
Hygge is a word that really doesn’t translate in English. But in addition to my friend’s explanation, I did find some Danes’ interpretations of hygge.
As I sit in our cookie-cutter apartment with rented furniture and dishes, I am ever so thankful for these two little candles. They remind me of San Diego and all the good friends and wonderful conversations I had there. They also give me hope that soon OKC will feel that way too. Thanks, KE, for sending a little hygge with me.
Whether you are at home or abroad, I hope all of you, dear readers, find a little hygge in your day.
This weekend my adorable niece turns two-years-old. Needing some creative stimulants to help select her birthday gift, I decided to research birthday traditions around the globe for some inspiration. The trouble was that I found plenty of traditions but very few images. And since I’m a visual person, I thought it might be nice see the traditions in addition to just reading abut them. Some of these were not easy to find, but here are 11 different global birthday traditions to try out:
Earlobe Tugs. Children receive a pull on their earlobe for each year.
Noodles for Lunch. Friends and relatives are invited to lunch; noodles are served to wish the child a long life. In addition, the child receives money from both parents.
Flying Flags. A flag is flown outside a window to designate that someone inside is enjoying a birthday. Presents are placed around children’s beds while sleeping.
Pink Dresses. When a girl turns 15, there’s a great celebration. She puts on a pink dress and her first pair of high heels and dances the waltz with her father. Fourteen girls and fourteen boys pair up and dance the waltz alongside them.
Fortune Telling Cakes. Certain symbolic objects are mixed into the birthday cake as it’s being prepared. If you uncover a coin in your cake, it’s foretelling of future riches.
Fortune Telling Cake Charms courtesy of Woof Nanny
Crown Years. Even (2, 4, 6, etc.) birthday years are called “crown years.” The child receives an especially large gift on the special crown year birthdays. In addition, the family decorates the child’s chair with flowers.
Birthday Bumps. The birthday child is lifted upside down and “bumped” on the floor for good luck. The child receives a bump for every year—and one extra for good luck.
Chair Raising. The child sits in a chair while the family raises and lowers it, corresponding to the child’s age, with one extra for good luck.
Pinatas and Mass. A pinata is filled with goodies and hung from the ceiling. While blindfolded, children take turns hitting it until it’s cracked open. Also, when a girl turns 15 in Mexico, a special mass is held to honor her.
Cakes and Noodles. Birthday cakes are baked in various shapes and sizes. The celebration includes noodles — representing a long life — balloon decorations, and pinatas.
Birthday Pies. Instead of a birthday cake, the child receives a birthday pie with a birthday greeting carved into the crust.
What other birthday traditions did I miss?
This post is adapted from FTD’s website.