An email from Byter Dianne, a friend of many years who now lives in her native Holland:
Loved your article on the Dutch Shop.
The Dutch are very house proud and homes like your mother`s house are still very popular, not so much with the younger generation but mine looks like it. I promised myself that after moving in 2007 I would not fill it up so much again but slowly it does happen.
We call that "gezellig" which means cosy and most leave the curtains open with lampshades and candles everywhere so that people can look in and admire the cosy look and the beautiful art, clocks or whatever their taste is that is on display.
The Dutch are also known for their beautiful curtains and open windows and I find myself gaping at the lovely items they have inside, which is very rude according to how I was brought up but it’s so interesting. When I go to Amsterdam for the day they have the narrow streets and houses placed next to the footpath. No garden in between and there are some beautiful items in those old lovely houses.
Thanks for the interesting Bytes.
Now that Diane has mentioned it, I remember the word being used by my parents during childhood. It is pronounced with that throaty Germanic and Dutch guttural “heh / ch” sound that English speakers seem to be unable to make or pronounce. The word gezellig is pronounced heh-sell-ick.
According to Wikipedia:
Gezelligheid is a Dutch abstract noun (adjective form gezellig) which, depending on context, can be translated as convivial, cosy, fun, quaint or nice atmosphere, but can also connote belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness. The word is considered to be an example of untranslatability, and is one of the hardest words to translate to English. Some consider the word to encompass the heart of Dutch culture.
The adjective gezellig can be used in a wide variety of situations.
A room can be gezellig. (meaning cosy or inviting)
A person can be gezellig. (meaning entertaining or pleasant)
A party can be gezellig. (meaning fun)
A visit to ones grandparents can be gezellig. (meaning togetherness)
A set of curtains can be gezellig. (meaning pretty or nice).
My mother in 2008 in her gezellig Dutch style home. It wasn't just this corner that looked like this, it was the entire house.