Hygge and the Danes

When you’re in Denmark and you hear this word from the locals, don’t ask where you can find it or if it is sold in any of the stores. “Hygge” (pronounced “hoo-ga”) does not have any direct translation into other languages and most Danish would tell you that there is not one word that can quite capture its true essence. Rather, hygge is something that is best witnessed in action, and the Danes are all about expressing it. The general concept of “hygge” is universal – it’s all about creating an atmosphere of coziness, comfort, fellowship, familiarity, security, reassurance and well-being for those who are near and dear. It is all about the simple rituals in everyday life that connect friends and family and help them form deeper bonds.

The word actually originates from Norway but the Danish people embraced it as their own and turned it into a distinct and integral part of their heritage. And in today’s modern world where technology can actually alienate individuals more than bring them closer to one another, “hygge” is a way that the Danish people remind themselves to go back to what’s real and what’s important in their lives. When someone tells you that you are “hyggelig,” it means that you radiate positive energy or are pleasant to be with.

Or if you want to wish someone to have a fun time you say “Hyg dig.” Hygge seems to be more evident during seasons of merriment such as Christmas. The Danes use the holidays as a good reason to engage in activities such as lighting more candles, decorating trees and putting out wreaths. This is also a time for many dinner parties and gatherings and tables are laden with all sorts of Danish food and sweets.

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