What does hygge mean?
Hygge is as Danish as roast pork and in many ways is the essence that lights up the Danish soul. Hygge actually comes from a Norwegian word meaning "well-being." It first appeared in Danish writing in the 18th century and has been embraced by the Danes ever since!
Hygge is a tricky word to define, it's a feeling, an experience, a sensation. It means creating a warm atmosphere. It is enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm amber glow of candlelight is hygge. Stomping through woods, wrapped up warm on a fresh Autumn day before returing to a fireside for hot cocoa is definitely hygge. Friends and family together on a balmy summer evening – that’s hygge too.
There's nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world!
How hygge are you?
Active pursuit of happiness
It's important to remember that 'hygge' is a verb as well as a noun. It is something that you can discover but it is also defined by the activity that you can do. From meeting up with friends to taking time on your own to work on your hobby, whatever that may be, that's hygge.
You can hygge on your own or in a group. That's the beauty of hygge. It's those magical moments in life that are completely stress free, entirely without complications, where everything feels right and will become a memory to cherish forever.
The cast that so many activities are associated with hygge also reveals a little secret about the Danish culture. Danes believe hygge is so important in life that they will seek it out. They will make time. They will prioritise hygge as an essential part of the day. Why wouldn't you?
Christmas: The hygge high season
The high season of hygge is Christmas and winter in general, when Danes pull out all the hygge stops. Danish winters are long and dark, and so the Danes fight the darkness with their best weapon: hygge, and the millions of candles that go with it.
Ever been to Tivoli Gardens or walked the streets of Copenhagen during the festive season? Then you know what Danes can do with lighting and mulled wine (known as gløgg)! If you haven’t, you should experience it!
How you can hygge at home
Hygge is more than a cosy room full of candles, company and good food. Hygge is a philosophy; a way of life that has helped Danes understand the importance of simplicity, time to unwind and slowing down the pace of life.
So hygge may have started here, but you can definitely start practising it at home! Create space and time to do nothing but enjoy the little things with family and friends and you're on your way to a hyggelig home!