Pronounced ‘hue-guh’, this Danish word has its roots in the word ‘hug’ and if you haven’t heard it before be prepared to.It’s set to enter the British consciousness thanks to a slew of new books being written about this very Danish phenomenon. The word is usually translated into English as ‘cosiness’ but it is broader than that, summing up a feeling of contentment and safety as much as cosiness. I imagine in Britain that the nearest thing to it would be that lovely warm feeling you get from having a few pints in a pub on a blustery evening, when the pub is full of chatter and you’re having a good time with your friends. I think it could also be applied to the picture above; an afternoon in the sunshine wandering aimlessly.
According to the Guardian, who interviewed Danish people about this word and its accompanying feelings, it’s also about living in the moment and concentrating on how things make you feel rather than how they make you look.
Interestingly, one Danish interviewee said she believed it would be difficult for British people to fully understand the sentiment behind ‘hygge’ because our society is based around ‘alcohol and shopping’.
This actually made me feel a bit sad and a bit embarrassed for Britain because I don’t think she’s wrong. We’re so much more similar to our consumerist American cousins than we are to our laidback European ones. Despite the huge expanse of water that separates us from America, we see to have taken to heart the need to purchase more while those on the continent focus more on their way of life than possession.
Italians are known for their food, the French for their love of culture, and of course amore, the Spanish are known for their siestas. And the Danes are the most contented people in the world apparently.
We’re known for ‘alcohol and shopping’.
Of course, hygge could be another way to sell us beautiful Danish goods as we try and recreate this elusive cosiness but it’ll take more than candles, pine furniture and white ceramics to capture the feeling.
Instead I think embracing the moment and enjoying it, rather than racing on to the next trend, is what we need to do and it’s going to be a difficult transition. We need to unlearn our consumerist ways and stop our minds from racing on to the next purchase in order to truly follow in the footsteps of the Danes.
So tell me, what do you think hygge means and how do you recreate it?