We cannot think of a better time than this cold winter season to discuss the old-new concept of keeping warm, cozy and utterly content – you know, the traditional Scandinavian way.
Just picture this: a warm fireplace; a fluffy blanket; a big mug of hot chocolate (with marshmallows, preferably!); and if we’re lucky, someone lovely to cuddle up and snuggle into their warm oversized cashmere sweater. Add some candlelight and throw in some jazz in the background, and you’re officially hyggeligt! Well, we think this should make winter a little more bearable…
So what is Hygge exactly? Pronounced [hue-guh], this Danish word is used to acknowledge a feeling or a moment – whether alone or with friends, at home or out – as cosy, charming and extraordinary. The concept cannot really be translated into one single word as it encompasses the full complexity of feeling cozy contentment and well-being by being present in the moment and enjoying the special yet simple things in life (if you’ve ever relished reading a good book indoors on a rainy Sunday with a cup of tea you’ve experienced hygge without even knowing it – sounds familiar?)
Hygge is such an important part of being Danish that it is considered “a defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA,” according to Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. “In other words, what freedom is to Americans. . . hygge is to Danes.”
By creating simple rituals without effort, the Danes see both domestic and personal life as an art form, rather than means of avoiding drudgery. This national obsession with all things cozy is credited as one of the reasons why Denmark is always at the top of the list of the world’s happiest countries, despite their infamously miserable winters. Now the rest of the world is beginning to catch on to this wonderful way of life and the word hygge has officially been added to the Oxford Dictionary of English. It was even included in the Collins Words of the Year for 2016—second only to Brexit.
While some refer to hygge as an “art of creating intimacy”, we’re interested in the practicalities: does hygge include wearing warm slouchy yoga pants to work? YES! Sweatpants do count as hygge. There’s even a word in Danish for them: Hyggebukser – a pair of pants you’d never be caught dead wearing in public, but practically live in when you’re at home on the weekends binging on Netflix.
Okay, we get it and we’re in! Let’s try and turn ordinary into extraordinary this winter… So dim the lights, grab the thermals, the red wine and the tea lights – and let’s HYGGE!