The existence of social media and the internet has brought to our attention a multitude of aspects about cultures from all across the world. Lately, you might have seen a lot of tweets and posts hyping up the Welsh word “hiraeth” in them. The question is— what makes this simple array of characters a remarkable one? Read on to understand the emotional perspective.

Hiraeth explicitly means a feeling of nostalgia or longing for a home that a person dreams to live in. It’s a yearning for a place that one feels like they belong to— which might even be non-existent. Considering the linguistic roots of the word, it is more than just ‘missing something.’ Here, ‘something’ can be an era, a period of time, or very often— a home.

Hiraeth is closely linked to the loss and grief accompanied by the dismantling of Welsh identity back in the 19th century when the British tried to transform their culture into an unprogressive cult. The people residing in Wales felt hiraeth for their threatened culture and hence, wanted to preserve it.

According to the emigration statistics of 19th Century Wales, people who moved out of Wales have acknowledged hiraeth for the Welsh identity, thereby resulting in a 40% back-emigration of the emigrants to their homeland that serves to be a place of comfort for them.

The past is being glorified by the Welsh and thus, people see hiraeth as a key to revival and getting back on track when one feels the longing for something underlying their moral code of conduct.

The desire for something that might not exist presently makes one strive for it! Hiraeth is something that will persuade a person to not let go, and thus, fear the loss of something intangible in the first place.

The meaning of the word is broad and changes with context. The Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the isolation of people from one another as per the norms of social distancing. People are alienated and their mental health has deteriorated during the lockdown. Here’s where homesickness comes into the picture. It’s not easy to stay at the same place for months— it only leads to anxiety and depression. We all live in our society-wide tents where we experience the longing to explore places. This longing can be felt for emotional and social relationships as well. We feel the dire need to meet someone and talk to them whenever we are lonely. We need someone to listen to us during our low times and stay there with us as constant emotional support. That’s hiraeth for feelings of validation and support as well as its source.

Talking about the dreamy places we want to explore, those who read fiction novels will comprehend this easily. Novels project imaginary places in our minds. They help us to see ourselves as the main lead of a story and help us experience living in a magical world. But when we realize that it’s merely fiction, a sense of yearning takes birth in our hearts. Have you ever dreamt of living on the moon and giving in to the wanderlust in your life? Yes, this is very exciting and adventurous to think of. But what if you have to live there forever?

You need to leave home in order to understand home.

According to astronauts who have stepped on the moon, their time there was easier because they knew that Mother Earth was down there, waiting for them to come back which is why they knew what felt like home and what didn’t.

Hiraeth is seen as an excellent key to revival as people get acquainted with their homes. Thus, they try to embody the idea of living and try capturing every ounce of happiness in their daily life to make it all the more happening. And when you realize it, you don’t let it go but you deal with it!

Written by: Yukti Sethi

Edited by: Ria Shridher




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