When the weather outside is frightful, there’s nothing more delightful than getting cozy at home with fuzzy blankets, a fire, yummy treats and a cup of coffee.
This kind of introverted paradise has recently become popular thanks to social media and #selfcare — but also thanks to hygge (pronounced hyoo-geh), an aspect of Danish culture often translated as “coziness” that has taken the Western world by storm.
Hygge, like many trendy things, isn’t what we think it is. Rather than being only about physical coziness with fuzzy socks and aromatic candles, hygge is more about coziness of the soul, if you will. It’s about spending quality time with people you care about, engaging in interesting and dynamic conversation, and sharing a moment or many where everyone is focused on each other and being mutually respectful.
Sure, good food and cozy things can intensify the feeling of hygge, but alone they don’t get at the core meaning.
“You can try and recreate it alone, but for me, hygge has social interaction. You can make a situation hyggelig, but for real hygge you have to have people, conversation and be present in the moment,” says Kristian Næsby, M.A., a visiting lecturer in the Scandinavian studies department at the University of Washington and a native of Denmark.
The real hygge
In an attempt to debunk hygge myths and misconceptions, here are five things you may not know about real Danish hygge — and how to add more of it to your life.
Hygge is a way of life, not an idea
You’ve probably heard hygge referred to as a concept or idea. That might make sense to us Americans, who, until recently, weren’t familiar with hygge and may be put off by the fact that it doesn’t have a literal translation in English. But to a Danish person, thinking of hygge this way would probably feel strange.