I’m currently obsessed with the Danish word hygge–one of the most important words to the Danish soul–that has no equivalent in the English language. My friend from Denmark tells me that the closest equivalent means “cozy”, but there’s so much more to it. The word, I learn, comes from the Norwegian word “well-being,” and Danes embrace this concept as part of their identity.
And I love it so much. It’s a way of living, a way of being.
I research the word, and I’m entranced. A hyggelig atmostphere is all about warmth, joy, and comfort. Something is hygge if it creates a refuge with friends. It involves homemade food, candles, relaxing chairs, warm beverages, and inspiring conversation free from debate or conflict. Hygge is about never being in a rush. It’s also so wonderfully about giving of yourself in spoken words through a tale of your childhood, your heart’s great loves, or ideas you’re thinking about. Winter marks the high season of hygge for the Danes because it’s a way of surviving the dark, long, cold winters. Imagine warm, candlelit gatherings of good friends, steaming beverages, delicious food, and a conversation of the soul. Imagine sinking into a chair beside your friend who has no place else to go for a while.
My Danish friend reminds me of how the happiest people on the planet live differently. Even while doing laundry, working on projects, or studying, Danes still bring hygge to whatever they’re doing. And I’m learning to as well as the cold days of winter approach. As my Danish friend likes to say: “Winter is the warmest season.”
Living with flair means cozy and warm. It means learning from Danish hygge.