Let's Get Danish Hygge Straight, Once and For All
Let's talk about the concept of Danish hygge. With the holidays in full swing, hygge vibes are super strong around Copenhagen. Over the past few months, I've seen the concept of hygge gaining international popularity. Tons of articles by mainstream American news outlets and magazines have written about hygge and many of my American friends (love you guys) have started playing with the concept. While Americans are clearly vibing with the concept of hygge, I've noticed that we aren't super clear on what hygge truly is to Danish culture. And if I'm being just a touch honest, I have a problem with that because it's not actually an accurate representation of such a central part of Danish culture. So what I say is let's educate ourselves around what hygge authentically is and then go off an enjoy it as you'd like. So what's the real deal with Hygge/Hyggeligt? Well now that I've been to Denmark over half a dozen times, have spent significant time in the country and dated a Danish dude for nearly six years, I've got a pretty great grasp on the concept. But I also called in my sweet Danish friend Marie for some help so we could get some truly authentic deets on the obsession of the moment: hygge.
If you ask most Danish people what hygge means, they will likely have a hard time explaining it and might tell you that there is truly no direct translation. If the Danish person you ask has been to America, they will also tell you it doesn't exist in the USA. Words that may come to mind when discussing hygge would be coziness, friends, candles, friends, warmth, friends, drinks, friends, candy. See what I did there? Major emphasis on friends. I use to think hygge was cozying up in my room alone, putting on a movie, lighting candles and possibly having a glass of wine. But in all honesty, hygge is a very social word. It is generally a word used to describe cozy times with friends and people you love. Hygge can be used to describe time alone, but more authentically, it's time you spend with people and the coziness that company brings.
But let's get the cold hard facts on Hygge from one of my favorite people in Denmark, Marie, who is also a real food foodie and all around incredible human being. I told her she has to get a blog, because she has some incredible kitchen skills, maybe some day she will. Anyways, here is her debut into the blogging world:
Hyggeligt is the adjective form and hygge is the noun form; they essentially mean the same but are used according to the sentence. For example, “I invited friends over for a hygge friday night” and “I had friends over friday and it was hyggeligt”. Anyways, hygge is a quite a funny word as it is contains both a feeling, an atmosphere and an action. And we Danes use it for E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Hygge is the way you feel and the experiences you have when you are having fun with good friends over dinner, it is when you light up some candles and drink a cup of tea with a friend or when you have a tradition with friends and family and you enjoy it and look forward to it. It is actually quite hard to explain. But it is in essence what you feel and how the surrounding play into that feeling when you are with other people. It is a very social word, even though you can do it by yourself and it can still be hyggeligt. Like you can have a hyggeligt day by yourself when you go for a stroll, by some good food or do something else you enjoy. So, it is in many ways the incarnation of the danish spirit. We LOVE to hygge. - Marie
As Marie explains, hygge/hyggelit has very social connotations. That is a big, big part of it. And I think that is something that Americans miss in the concept. Danes are very community based—they are highly social and are constantly hanging out together in ways that Americans just don't. It's interesting being over here in Denmark because I really notice the stark contrast. I think, as social as Americans are, we are also very independent and spend significantly more time alone than Danes. So now that we are truly clear on what hygge means, I hope you can enjoy it in an authentic way, but also make it perfectly your own. Because everyone deserves to experience those damn cozy hygge vibes.
So there you have it. A clarified version of the ever-so-popular concept of hygge. So you ready to get your hygge on?