Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Europe Trivia - Europe is such a loving place

Now when I say that I’m sure you immediately think of the French people kissing everyone on both cheeks, and the open arms of the Italians or Greeks. I agree with all that. But this goes much further. The friendliness and love goes deep into our traditions and languages too.

One of my favourite sights is these houses on the Faeroe Islands that seem to be hugged by the very landscape that surrounds them. Of course, having grass on your roof means you have a quiet house, a warm house and the weight of the grass helps to keep your roof on in the incredible storms they get so far North. But I can’t help being a romantic.

The Danish also have this lovely tradition of having a small room in the house (away from where they receive guests) which is just for the family to gather in of an evening. It is usually furnished with big soft cushions and soft lighting. They call it a hygge-krog or a hugging nook. To be invited into another family’s hygge-krog is a great honour and is like being made part of the family.

There is a lovely German word too which is gemütlich. There is no real single English word for this but it is a way of using furnishings, lighting even scents to create a cosy and homely feeling. So that even a stranger entering the house will immediately feel at home.

And not to be left out; the Welsh have a lovely word too. This is Cwtch. It’s an odd word as it has many definitions. (one definition is a coal shed!) If a Welsh person says to “cwtch-up” it means to snuggle down among the blankets for a good night’s sleep. A cwtch can also be a hug or a cuddle but my favourite definition is for the shawl that is wrapped tightly around baby and then around Mam’s back to give her a hand free when carrying baby. Also baby can be close to her Mam and have a hug while Mam either keeps working or sits in a chair for a rest herself. This is such a lovely idea because even if mam falls asleep; the baby cannot fall and is held safely in place by the shawl. Who doesn’t want to be hugged to sleep?

Picture of Faeroe house by kind permission of Chris Webster
Picture of Mam carrying baby "welsh style" by the Museum of Wales


Cat said...

Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit :-D What a great post, thanks Eddy! I love that little house!

florcita said...

What an interesting post. Im latin (argentinean) and I live in THe NEtherlands now. At first I thougth everyone was incredibly cold, but once I learnt the ways of people I understood what they meant when they kept calling things, places or moments "gezellig". Nice, agreeable, fun, comfortable... I don' t really know which word to use to translate gezellig to english (which, by the way, it' s not even my mother tongue!). But they tried hard to make the moment like that...gezellig... warm, nice, their own way.