A soon as you move to Denmark you will become aware of a word that the Danes use all the time and say there is no translation for – hygge. They say the best translation is cosy but that is so inadequate for what hygge truly means. Hygge is all about being warm and cosy with others. I went on a cupcake making evening and the host said it had been ‘meget hyggeligt’ – very cosy as everyone had chatted and learnt a new skill together. A lovely candlelit cafe is described as being hyggelig. So what is it all about?
I suppose the main components of hygge are candles, people and enjoyment. When I was learning Danish, Lone, my teacher explained hygge by telling us about some situations that were hyggeligt. A couple cuddled up on the sofa watching a film with a glass of wine is it but then so is a group of friends laughing around a table enjoying a good meal. Younger people say you can be it alone with a good TV show and a bag of sweets (although older people may disagree).
I have found that a fun day at the beach can be it. A cupcake class full of warmth can be it. Candles burning in the windows of shops, homes and cafes on a cold winter’s night can be it. Tivoli is it. A chance encounter for a coffee can be it.
I love this old fashioned idea of what it enjoyable and that all ages and generations buy into the concept. The biggest thing for me is that hygge has nothing to do with material possessions but all to do with people and happiness. Again perhaps this love of hygge is another factor in why the Danish as repeatedly voted as the happiest people on the planet.