So what does Hygge mean?

Hygge here, Hygge there. At the moment, the Danish phenomenon is everywhere – in magazines, blogs, books. And suddenly everybody wants just one thing: to live Hygge themselves. But what’s actually at the core of this elusive term?

When it comes to the pronunciation of the Danish term, opinions differ sharply. Hooga? Hhyooguh? Or rather Heurgh? It actually doesn’t matter if you pronounce Hygge correctly or not. As one of the most important philosophers of our time, Winnie the Pooh, would say:

„You don’t have to say it. You have to feel it.“

Hygge is the feeling of belonging somewhere

The pronunciation isn’t the hardest part when it comes to Hygge.The real problem is defining the term. Many have tried, but a truly fitting definition has yet to be found.Hygge is less about material things, than a certain feeling, experience, or even atmosphere. Hygge means being with the people one loves. Hygge means comfort and well-being, safety and open-mindedness. In principle, Hygge means to feel at home.

Hygge can be felt when eating dinner with family and talking across the table to one another. Hygge can be felt when talking for hours to your best friend about the big and small things in life. But Hygge can also be felt on cool autumn days, sitting at the window alone with a cup of tea, watching the leaves fall from the trees.

Denmark is considered one of the happiest countries in the world and this is often correlated with the Danes’ aspirations for Hygge. Although there is ultimately no secret recipe for Hygge per se, a few pointers can help get you started.

Hygge is warmth and well-being

At the top of the list is light. The Danes are almost obsessed with the perfect lighting. According to a Danish study, more than half of the population lights at least one, if not several candles every day during autumn and winter. The Danes are ready to spend tons of money on the right lamp and can walk for hours through the streets looking for restaurants with the perfect light. The lower the temperature of the light, the more hygge it is. Scientists attribute the continual pursuit of optimal lighting to a lack of contact with daylight in the winter months. From October to March, Denmark has little more to offer than coldness and darkness. This also explains why Hygge is so important in Denmark. Hygge counteracts the cold winter, rainy autumn days and darkness.

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