Hygge is a Danish word (pronounced “hoo-gah”) that loosely translates to “a quality of coziness and contentment.” It’s conjectured to come from the word “hugge” which means “to comfort” and is where we in English get the word “hug.”
I’d never heard of it the word until I was FaceTiming with my friend Sofia. She’s the only person who can cold call me on FaceTime and actually get an answer. (In fact, she’s the only person who ever calls me on FaceTime.)
She’d stumbled up on the topic and was fascinated by it, as was I once she told me about it. We were both feverishly googling while catching each other up on our weekends.
It’s not just a word. Hygge is an important part of the cultural identity of Norweigan and Danish people. Helen Russell, a British journalist who wrote “The Year of Living Danishly,” defines the term as “taking pleasure in the presence of gentle, soothing things,” like a freshly brewed cup of coffee or the feel of cashmere socks.
This New Yorker article notes winter as the most hygge time of the year—the season in which we need the most comfort. With its shorter days, dipping temps, blizzards and chafing winds (I live in Chicago), coziness is a must.
Hygge was a finalist to be Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2016, but lost out to way less cozy “post-truth” which is a shame. I think it’s much more deserving. But, I digress…
There are lots of books being published about hygge. It’s kind of a “the hot thing” now, but I have to wonder—particularly as aforementioned winter stalks the norther hemisphere, don’t we all practice a little hygge from time to time? (And if the answer is “no,” you must start!)
I think there is a component of mindfulness (which is kind of America’s hygge in a way, right? I mean, it only makes sense to Americans because the rest of the world doesn’t seem to be so over stressed with juggling too many things) that one must posses in order to stop thinking for a few minutes—and just live gratefully in a moment. I take great comfort in those tiny moments—particularly in the early winter morning before the rest of the world is awake. I do appreciate my freshly Keuriged cup of coffee and the flames dancing in my fireplace to break the chill and to start the day. I can’t stifle a snicker at hearing the ridiculously loud snoring of my pooch. It’s those “in between” moments I savor.
As the days grow shorter, I place flameless candles with timers in my front window that are timed to go on at 4 pm (when it’s dark in the dead of winter. Ugh.) So when I come home or look up from my desk, it feels like my house is prepping for me to finish work and welcome me into an evening brimming with hygge. Using a slow cooker is another great way of generating some hygge mojo, with the aromatic smells of something cooking all day wafting through the house, greeting you when you walk in.
These are some of mine. I wonder what ways you practice hygge?