Ever heard of the Danish buzzword ‘Hygge’ (pronounced ‘hoo gah’)? Well it’s a feeling not a look, and there’s even an oath!
The buzzword that is a huge part of Danish cultural identity. In fact, the Collins English Dictionary claimed that Hygge was runner-up (after Brexit) as word of the year in the UK 2016. I’m currently researching a bit more about it for an upcoming magazine article and I thought it might be nice to share what I’ve found with you all. And maybe you can share some ideas with me too?
In it’s purest form, ‘Hygge‘ means ‘well-being’ and was most probably derived from the Danish/Norwegian word for hug – ‘hugge’ – which means ‘to embrace’. ‘Hygge’ in Denmark now means more than well-being, in that it is the recognition of a feeling or a special moment in time, that is simple, cosy, relaxing, loving, happy, charming and full of contentment. Sounds good huh?! Whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary.
As Danish/French Hygge guru Alex Beuchamp of Hyggehouse describes, ‘Hygge literally only requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not only be present – but to acknowledge and enjoy the present.’ She explains that ‘Danes see both domestic and personal life as an art form and not a drudgery to escape from. Danes created Hygge because they were trying to survive boredom, cold, dark and sameness.. And the undefinable feeling of Hygge was a way for them to find moments to celebrate and to break up the day, months or years making a huge difference to one’s spirit.’
So it’s the small rituals without effor,t that take daily life and elevate it to something special. It can be adapted for us Aussies. It doesn’t have to be cosy winter fires, chunky socks and mulled wine like in Europe. It can be even more simple. I just love the idea of lighting a candle at dinner time with the kids. Why not?
Or the simple pleasure of enjoying a cup of tea? Taking some time out to relax and unwind and get off the grid. And why not use your fanciest tea-cup. No point saving it for that visit from the queen like our parents and grandparents did! I’m also very partial to having fresh flowers on our table every week. But that’s just me. It helps that I have flower shop. But if you have flowers in your garden or on your balcony, then even better.
I also love Sunday get-togethers with good friends or family for relaxed, simple meals and board games. Those special days filled with joy where nobody wants to be anywhere else or wants more than what they have right there in front of them. Whatever it is that floats your boat, it’s being aware of the special moment you’ve created that will have you feeling Hygge like a Dane.
It’s not about being fancy or stylised, or having the right things, or the right look, it’s about being present enough to recognise how fab a moment is and giving that moment a name – Hygge.
Do you have any rituals you’d like to share? Making coffee a verb perhaps? Or that 5 o’clock G&T on weekends? (I’m really loving mine with slice of cucumber at the moment!). Or maybe it’s snuggling up with the dog to read a book on the weekend? PJs days with the family? Feel free to comment on this opinion piece to share your Hygge ideas. We’d love to hear from you!
In the meantime, here’s to the Hygge Oath!