03 Apr Hygge – What is Hygge and How to Pronounce it?
What is Hygge?
Pronounced hoo-ga or hue-gah, this word is becoming more recognisable and is a Norwegian word for wellbeing. Developed as a way of living by the Danish in the 18th century. This is where it first appeared in writings during that time and the country hasn’t looked back since. Applicable to any space and time, hygge covers both winter and summer. The ideas really come alive in the cold Scandinavian season. These bleak winters show the power of hygge. Even in the depths of the coldest months. Denmark’s inhabitants are still the world’s happiest people.
Described as coziness or togetherness, the term has no literal translation. Making it impossible to pinpoint exactly what hygge means. It is defined as more of a mood or feeling more than a word. The concept can be looked at as a mental state rather than a physical one. Simple words such as coziness really doesn’t do it justice.
The Unique Danish Concept of Hygge
Did you ever have an evening with friends just sitting by the fire enjoying each other’s company? That’s hygge. Have you ever woken up to a rainy day, lit a candle, wrapped up in a blanket, with a cup of cocoa, and enjoyed a good book? Hygge. Roasted marshmallows over a roaring bon fire with a group of friends enjoying a glass of wine? Again, hygge. Slipped into a hot bath. A lovely way to hygge. In fact, my favourite way.
This Scandinavian way of living embraces companionable interactions, shared meals, and coziness with the ones you love. With emphasis on the appreciation for the little things in life, kinship and warmth, hygge is a concept about life that started in Denmark and has helped with the nation’s happiness ratings. In these times of unrest and stress, American’s are learning hygge to help them find happiness from within themselves. Hygge can be an excellent way to self-care. During cooler seasons when weather doesn’t permit you to get outdoors hygge can keep you calm. Embrace the indoors, take time for yourself, and welcome others into your home. Hygge is a good way to help with seasonal affective disorder.
Bringing People Together with Hygge
Drinking mulled wine, wearing a woolly jumper, petting a dog, sitting by a roaring fire on a very cold night all while being surrounded by candles. Yep, hygge.
Eating homemade pastries. Watching your favourite show under a thick blanket. Tea served out of your antique tea set. Family dinners eating your favourite foods. Hygge again.
Hygge is translated in English as coziness. It is so much more. Denmark has long, cold winters. Hygge isn’t a winter-only concept. The weather is bad for much of the year. With 17 hours of darkness happening every day in winter and temperatures staying around 32 degrees F. People spend most of their time indoors. This makes for more time to entertain in the home.
Hygge can be eating with friends and families with the lights dimmed. It can be just you reading a favorite book for the hundredth time. The mood will be set better if there isn’t a large space around each person. The main idea of hygge is to feel at home and be able to relax. Just forget about life’s worries.
The world is slowly waking up to the way of the Danes. The Danes have known this secret for generations. Having a cozy, relaxed time with family and friends usually over coffee, beer or cake, can be soothing for the soul. Hygge is about being nice to yourself. Indulging, not denying yourself anything, having a nice time, and not punishing yourself. This is all very useful in January when everyone is on a diet or exercising and abstaining from alcohol.
There isn’t any deprivation in Denmark. People are kinder to themselves and others. In Denmark there aren’t cases of eating disorders. There aren’t any yo-yo diets. This is why they are so much happier than we are in the U.S. If people have had a wonderful time at your home, you might receive the compliment of them having a hyggeligt time.
Hygge isn’t for just the rich. Anyone can do it from the poorest to the richest. Hygge is absolutely crucial to the Danish. The closest English word to hygge would be hug. The effects of hygge and a hug are very similar. They are both secure and comforting. According to Oxford English Dictionary, the meaning of hug is “to cherish oneself or to keep or make oneself snug”.
Other cultures have expressions that are similar to hygge. There’s Gemutlichkeit in Germany which is a sense of wellness that is based on great food, the company you keep and a good drink. Danish people will insist that hygge is totally unique.
Hygge wasn’t meant to ever be translated. It needs to be felt. This idea is so rooted in a sense of togetherness and possibly in their social democracy, that anyone other than a Dane will struggle to grasp its social significance.
Grab a glass of wine or your favourite drink. Get a fire going whether it’s inside or out. Invite a bunch of friends over. Have plenty of blankets on hand. Get comfortable. Watch the sunset in silence. Once the sun has gone down, enjoy each other’s company. Talk about the day, week, or however long it’s been since you’ve seen each other. This, my dear, is what hygge is all about.
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