Lately, people seem to be obsessed with the Danish concept of "hygge." It's been featured in news articles, Instagram posts and even has a dedicated table with all sorts of books on the subject in the front of my town's library. Of course, when you see this unique word, one that doesn't even precisely echo anything we have in English, you aren't sure how to approach it. Is it pronounced "Hi-Gee?" "Heege?" "Hig?" "Hige?" If you aren't fluent in Danish, you may not immediately know how you pronounce "hygge" so we're here to help.
The Danish word hygge comes from the Norwegian word for "well-being" and is pronounced "Hooga," according to the Visit Denmark site. The closest word to it in English is probably "coziness" which is why it's especially embraced during the winter season. As the temperatures get lower, who doesn't want to hunker down at home with a plush throw, a cup of coffee and fuzzy slippers?
There are so many things you can do to achieve hygge. It's all about feeling good and surrounding yourself with things that make you happy. As Hygge House puts it, hygge isn't something you can buy, it isn't something you make, "Hygge literally only requires a conscious appreciation, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present." For instance, if you're doing your laundry while sipping a latte and nibbling on a croissant, and enjoying this calm, peaceful moment, then you are experiencing hygge.
Harper's Bazaar says that hygge, "focuses on hunkering down in the winter and creating a safe, comforting and warm place to while away cold, wet evenings, whether you're at home solo or entertaining." This is what makes it especially attractive during the cold winter months, particularly in Denmark where it can be dark for up to 17 hours a day. Facing the dark, cold, sameness of every day the Danes came up with this concept that focuses on finding the joy and simplicity in every day things, and it can be as easy as lighting a favorite candle while enjoying a glass of wine, sitting by a fireplace with a book in hand and blanket on your lap, or doing a crossword puzzle with your favorite tunes playing in the background. It's all about embracing slowness and coziness, no matter what that means to you. Visually, it is often translated with minimal, monochromatic vignettes featuring cable knit blankets, sheepskin rugs, fingerless gloves and just-poured lattes.
We're not as good at this in our rush-rush lives, especially when we are chasing children all day, but if you look at all of the words Hygge House uses to describe it: cosiness, charm, happiness, ‘contentness’, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness, you realize that with a tiny bit of effort, you can bring it into a child-filled life. It can be as simple as eating a picnic dinner on a blanket on your living room floor or snuggling in bed and reading an extra storybook together. The idea is that you approach your activity with a care-free, happy attitude.
In some ways, hygge during parenthood can be extra important because it might encourage you to slow down for a moment and soak it all in. Yes, it can seem really stressful when the kids aren't listening or there are Cheerios smushed in the carpet or Legos in the toilet bowl, but if you step back and try to find create a few hygge moments over the course of the day, you might find that it makes you feel more calm and that you can address said hiccups with ease.
Hygge can also turn the negative concept of cabin fever into gratitude for being able to stay warm indoors. It's all how you look at it, right? And don't feel the pressure to make your hygge moment Instagram-perfect, especially if makes you feel stressed out which is the opposite of its intent. Have a pajama day, make a hot breakfast, or build a pillow and blanket fort. It can be anything big or small, as long as it makes you happy and at peace. You can even find hygge in the everyday act of taking off your jeans or work clothes and climbing into sweats at the end of the day — and taking off your bra!
Hygge is the art of being cozy. It's surrounding yourself with people you like, drinking warm yummy drinks, doing something relaxing. With hygge in their lives, it's pretty clear why the Danes have a reputation for being some of the happiest people in the world. Not a bad thing to aspire to — especially now that you know how to pronounce it correctly.
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