What The Heck Is Hygge?

You have probably heard of “Hygge.” It has been discussed on various television programs, written about in magazines, newspapers, and blogs such as this. And there are dozens of books about hygge and how to find it in your own life.

Ingebretsen’s is proud that its store and history reflects the hygge lifestyle. In the next few weeks we will be posting about different aspects of hygge and giving you ideas how to incorporate it into your own life.

How Do You Say It Correctly?

To start with let’s get the pronunciation out of the way. When I first saw it I was pronouncing it as some derivative of hygiene; and while I’m sure hygiene helps especially when gathering with family and friends, that is not even close to how it is pronounced.

It is pronounced “HUE-guh.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQViLylMJMo&w=560&h=315]

(Author’s note: it helps me to think of it as rhyming with booga as in the first part of boogaloo.)

What is Hygge?

Hygge is a Danish word describing a moment as special or charming or cozy. It is a feeling that can occur at home or outside the home, alone or with family. It is both ordinary and extraordinary because it fills you with warmth and comfort.

Hygge is usually translated into English as “coziness.” But devotees of hygge say it is more than that. In fact it is much more, say its devotees – it’s an entire attitude to life. Perhaps it is hygge that helps Denmark and other Scandinavian countries continue to be named the world’s happiest countries.

Scandinavian countries have long, cold winters and hygge is a response to that fact. With up to 17 hours of darkness per day in winter, and 0C as the average temperatures, people spend more time indoors as a result and that means more focus on home entertaining and family.

According to lecturer Susanne Nilsson of Morley College in London where she teaches hygge as part of the Danish language program, “Hygge could be families and friends getting together for a meal, with the lighting dimmed, or it could be time spent on your own reading a good book,” she says. “It works best when there’s not too large an empty space around the person or people. The idea is to relax and feel as at-home as possible, forgetting life’s worries.”

December and the holiday season is a good time to start looking at embracing some of the hygge components in your life. Family, food, and warmth is at the center of hygge and at the center of the holidays.

This blog will post on different aspects in the coming days but you can find out more for yourself, or share with others, through some of the many books we carry on hygge.

In the meantime this video with Meik Wiking, the author of The Little Book of Hyge, gives a nice overview to hygge and how the people of Denmark incorporate it in their life.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk5ylfxiEbE&w=560&h=315]

If you have questions or topics you would like covered please let us know in the comments.

We look forward to sharing this look at hygge and how to make it part of your lifestyle.


Written by Mary Hirsch