Toy Fair begins in just a few days and after 30+ years of spending Valentine’s Day in New York City, I cannot help but reflect on why it hasn’t really bothered me.  It quickly hit me – it’s due to the fact that I am spending time with our great ASTRA family.

We love our ASTRA members for many reasons, but there are some very specific ones that stand out above all else. Having grown up with a father who was 100% Finnish and being married to a Danish born and raised husband, I’ve learned two words from these cultures that encompass the very heart of our membership.

The first word is the Danish word hygge (pronounced hooga).  There have been articles written that try to describe this word that is so embedded in Danish culture because Denmark has been noted as the happiest country in the world.  Many believe much of that is due to hygge. So what does it mean?  It is about the power of presence and really connecting to others in a drama-free way. It is focusing on what is really important-being together.  Being a member of ASTRA connects us all to common goals.  Our members have passion and purpose and through it all we know how important it is to play and be together having fun.  This Valentine’s Day, we will be celebrating with our ASTRA family at our Night in New York party.  There will be a lot of hygge going on there!

The second word is the Finnish word sisu (pronounced see’soo).  Nearly every Finn has this word posted somewhere in their home or sauna. (My husband even surprised me with the vanity license plate above!) It is a Finnish term that can be roughly translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. Sisu is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain that courage.  Emily Lahti, a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Applied Positive Psychology master’s program, contrasts sisu with other parts of human strength, “like resilience, conscientiousness, or grit, which psychologists say is the best predictor of success. But while grit is maintaining passion and performance in the pursuit of a long-term goal, sisu is your ability to take action against long odds.” There is no better word to describe our ASTRA members.

We love you all.  Spread some hygge and show your sisu.  We know it’s all there and it’s what makes our ASTRA family the best.  Have a happy Valentine’s Day wherever you may be.

Want to read more about hygge and sisu?  Check out these articles:

Sue Warfield is the Director of Member Relations at ASTRA. With more than 30 years of experience in the retail and toy business, Sue offers insight into industry trends and tips and works to connect the retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and affiliates in the specialty toy retailing arena.
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