So, you’re looking for some hygge in your life? We hear you. Here’s my useful guide to what is all about – and how to get some.
What is hygge?
Many will start the answer with: ‘Well, there is no actual translation, it’s a state of mind, man”. This is sort of true. However, the lack of translation is because the word means that feeling of being entirely content in the moment, with friends of family, and actually appreciating the moment while you’re doing it, not afterwards. There is no big secret to it and while we appreciate the entire world is currently raving about finding hygge, well…. Basically, you’re already doing it, but now it has a name.
Remember that time you had your best friends over, you had some wine and you chatted and laughed for hours? That was hygge.
How do I pronounce it?
Hygge is pronounced who–guh.
No, it does not rhyme with jiggy and anyone who tells you that deserves to be forced to spend a week in Holstebro. Nor is it hooooo-gah. No. Just who-guh.
How do I use the word ‘hygge’?
Hygge is a verb. You can ‘hygge’ with friends and family, even on your own. Something can be ‘hyggeligt’ which means it is has the potential to help you ‘hygge’. A corner of a room can look ‘hyggeligt’, but you need to be in it to ‘hygge’.
Why do I need to understand ‘hygge’?
Not only because the rest of the world is talking about it, but because it is just a nice thing to remind you to stop, breathe and appreciate the moment that you are in. While you are actually in it.
Is it a Danish thing?
Sort of. The Danes claim it as their own. But really, it’s a Norwegian word. Danes started using it in the 1900’s. The original word has roots from old Norse – and the the word has even evolved into other words, such as hug.
Most Danes will deny this, of course, seeing as it is now such a huge part of what makes a Dane really Danish – and an essential part of our lives. So, when you look at the cultural significance, it’s a very Danish word.
What does it really mean? I still don’t quite get it?
It’s an elevated state of cosiness. It is not cosy, because an object is cosy – like the cosy chair or the cosy table setting. Hygge, however, is not an object – It is what happens in that cosy room.
Why all the candles?
Scandinavians love candles. Why do you think the candle section in Ikea is the size of a small warehouse? Winter is dreadfully dark – the candle light makes it bearable and cosy. It is often thathygge is associated with candle because it is an easy way to illustrate the comforting feelings – and that the hygge is happening.
So, I always need candles?
No. You can hygge in the daylight too – but certain things speed up the hygge feelings:
- A bowl of snacks and sweets on the table
- People around you that you like
- Woolly socks
- Comfy jumpers
- Blankets knitted by great aunt Hilda in 1937.
- Happy faces
- Jazz (sometimes)
FACT: The presence of food, sweets, cakes and crisps is the easiest way to speed up the feeling of ‘hygge’.
Example: You sit down in front of the telly with your besties to watch a good movie. It’s nice. Add a bowl of dillchips, some Marabou chocolate and a packet of Gott & Blandat and suddenly, it’s ‘hygge’.
Example 2: You invite friends over. You enjoy a glass of wine, you light some candles. Add a bowl of sweets or crisps to the table, and ‘hygge’ happens instantly.
Can I bring my phone?
No, one unique thing is there is no time in the sphere of hygge. No phones allowed, it breaks the hygge.
What do we talk about?
No politics, nothing controversial – and for heaven’s sake, just be yourself. You can’t hygge if you’re pretending to be someone else. Relax.
There’s no bragging in Hygge, and there’s no bigging anything up. Just being as we all are, right now, in this bubble, sheltered from the outside world of materialism and competition. Just stay in the bubble and feel content.
‘Hygge’ as a compliment
‘Hyggeligt’ is a big compliment to someone who created it. If you’ve been at someone’s house for dinner and you tell the host it was ‘hyggeligt’, you are paying them a big compliment, possibly one of the biggest you can.
Does ‘hygge’ have seasons?
Sort of. While you can ‘hygge’ all year around, it is particularly easy to illustrate ‘hygge’ when it is darker outside, so winter usually gets most hygge points in the media. But we do it all year round – admittedly, it often hides in dusk and end of the day – when we naturally slow down.
The high season for ‘hygge’ is Christmas. Think cottage in the snow. Mulled wine. Lots of ginger biscuits. However, the media loves to add hygge to all the seasons so you will find front covers of the food magazines talking about weekend-hygge, Easter-hygge, summer-hygge and more.
Will a Swede understand it if I tell him we need to ‘hygge’?
It’s not a Swedish word. But he’ll probably get the meaning – in Sweden, a similar word is ‘Mysigt’. Same with a Norwegian, who will use the word koselig.
Can you ‘hygge’ alone?
Sort of. Maybe in bed on a Sunday morning, feeling warm and cosy. With the papers. TV on.
Can you, ehm, ‘hygge’, in a romantic way?
Yes. Candle light and Marvin Gaye. It’s universal ‘hygge’. A bowl of crisps totally optional in these situations. Whatever floats your boat, really.
Why are there no real translatable words to hygge?
Because we like to think it was only ever meant to be felt, not explained.
Join us. Feel it.