It's pronounced "hue-guh."
Earlier this fall, Amanda and her husband took an incredible 2-week vacation, split between Iceland and Copenhagen. She came back to us with two new interests: In Iceland, she learned to enjoy a mix of hot tubs and cold tubs in the outdoors - and when she came home, she didn’t close up her pool until after Halloween. And in Copenhagen, she experienced the warmth of the Danish concept of hygge.
Hygge doesn’t have an equivalent phrase in English. It basically means acknowledging the moments that feel cosy, charming, or special. Enjoying the simple things in life. Being present. If you've ever enjoyed reading a book indoors on a rainy day and then paused to acknowledge that you were enjoying it, you've practiced hygge. When Amanda told us about it, we all thought it sounded pretty nice. Nicer than jumping into an unheated pool in Minnesota in October, at least for those of us who had not been indoctrinated in Iceland. So today we wanted to share a few fun facts about hygge and some ideas for bringing more hygge into your home.
Hygge Fun Fact No. 1: Hygge happens year round, but winter, and Christmas in particular, is the most hygge time of year. In Denmark, where winters are long and dark (something we Minnesotans can relate to), candles are the key to keeping things light and warm. Danes lead the world in the amount of candlewax burned per capita - 13 pounds per person, per year.
Hygge Home Tip #1: Bring on the candlelight! And the firelight! Anything but those overhead lights! Nothing makes you pay attention to the present like surrounding yourself by open flames!
Hygge Fun Fact No. 2: The Danes see both the domestic and personal life as an art form, and not a drudgery to get away from. Part of practicing hygge is deliberately taking a moment to enjoy the journey, rather than focusing on the destination.
Hygge Home Tip #2: Decorate with popcorn garlands. But make the popcorn from scratch, and approach it from the perspective of a professional chef. Then put it on a string and decorate with it while pretending you’re a professional designer. In other words, take pride in the process.
Hygge Fun Fact No. 3: There is a term for those sweatpants that you wear, like 95% of the time when you’re at home but would never wear in public: hyggebukser. Hyggepants!
Hygge Home Tip #3: Don’t stop at sweat pants! Think woolen socks, chunky hats and scarves, and nubby mittens. Make your home as cozy as your hyggebukser-clad behind with cozy knitted blankets and throws.
Hygge Fun Fact No. 4: Hygge can happen when you’re alone, but is best with friends. Hygge can be that moment with a book on a rainy day, but is better in a sauna in the winter, surrounded by your naked neighbors.
Hygge Home Tip #4: Learn to make tea (or coffee, or hot chocolate, or lemonade) and serve it when people come over, without asking. Sure, they might not drink it the first time, but graciously accepting hospitality is kind of hygge, too: a great example of how hygge is more fun with friends. So keep practicing. Spread the love.
Hygge Fun Fact No. 5: The origin of the word is unclear. It might be related to the hug, or hugge, “to embrace.” Or it might be the Old Norse hygga, “to comfort,” which is related to hugr, “mood.” And maybe a bit of the Old English hycgan, meaning "to think, consider." So…thinking about a mood that embraces comfort? It’s not a great sentence, but it gets the feeling across. Where ever it came from, the word is gaining in popularity. In 2016, Collins English Dictionary nearly named it Word of the Year (it came in second place, to “Brexit”).
Hygge Home Tip #5: These days hygge can be a noun, adjective, verb, or compound noun, so you do you! Take a look at your everyday routines, and see if there’s one you’d like to elevate. You never know what new tradition you may start!
Happy hygge-days, from all of us at the Be Moved Group!