With the holidays fading fast in our rearview mirrors, we find ourselves in the wide open expanse of …
About this time of year, we start counting the days until spring and wondering how the rugged residents of far northern latitudes do it. How can they keep their chins up with months more until thaw and precious little daylight in which to weather the harshest of seasons?
They must have a secret.
In fact, they do.
Well, it’s not exactly a secret—the rest of the globe just hasn’t caught on to hygge yet.
The Danish term hygge (pronounced something like “heu-gah”) is worthy of translation among traditions nationwide, if for no other reason than the fact that Denmark is the happiest country in the world, according to the United Nations General Assembly’s World Happiness Report.
That’s pretty big, right?
While I’m fairly certain hygge is a noun, its definition isn’t cut and dried. It’s more of a concept, really, a notion, a ritual of sorts.
Perhaps I should leave the defining to a lady who knows the nuances of hygge, Louisa Thomsen Brits. She’s a writer of Danish descent, and she crafted a lovely blog called—you guessed it—Hygge, where she explains this winter survival strategy most eloquently:
“Hygge is the art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open-hearted and alive. To create well-being, connection and warmth. A feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other. Hygge happens when we commit to the pleasure of the present moment in its simplicity,” Brit writes. “Hygge is a kind of enchantment—a way of stirring the senses, the heart and the imagination, of acknowledging the sacred in the secular—a way of giving something ordinary a special context, spirit, and warmth, taking time to make it extraordinary.”
Okay, so maybe that’s more of a roundabout explanation than a hard and fast definition, but you’re beginning to get the gist, aren’t you?
According to VisitDenmark.com, “Hygge actually comes from a Norwegian word meaning ‘well-being.’ It first appeared in Danish writing in the 18th Century and has been embraced by the Danes ever since.”
Now that we’ve come closer to the meaning, explore the practice (not to mention pronunciation) of hygge in this mini video travelogue from Copenhagen: