How the Danes Get By With A Little "Hygge" From Their Friends


The cold and dark winter months have been known to bring people down, so it may come as a surprise that chilly Denmark, where the sun sets by 4pm, has been named by the United Nations as one of the happiest countries in the world.

The answer to this conundrum (or at least a piece of the puzzle) may very well lie in the ancient practice that the Danes call hygge. The word itself doesn’t translate to English but loosely refers to togetherness or a kind of cozy camaraderie.

Imagine the feeling of family, friends and warmth you feel around the holidays and you begin to get a picture of what hygge represents to the people of Denmark year round. Derived from the Norwegian word for well-being, hygge first appeared in the Danish language in the 18th century. Over the years it has evolved, gathering the layers of meaning that now represent a way of life encapsulated in a single word.

An article in Mother Nature Network explains,

It's not unlike the American idea of thankfulness around Thanksgiving and Christmas, which refers to a general sense of gratitude as well as the implied presence of family, festivity and homemade food. Yet while holiday cheer doesn't last all year for many Americans — despite its potential health benefitshygge has become embedded in the Danish consciousness.”

So how does one get their “hygge” on, you might ask? The idea is to let yourself slow down enough to enjoy those cozy, heartfelt, moments. It’s a concept that we as American’s only seem open to during the holidays, after which we all go rushing back to our busy lives. In order to practice hygge you have to make hygge a priority.

Although, it usually has a social element to it, hygge seems to be more about nurturing the soul than anything else. It can be a physical place like a cozy nook where you go to read, or a rotating dinner party with friends. Either way, consider extending that feeling beyond the holidays this year by making time for a little hygge in your life.


Read all articles by Juniper Briggs

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