Have you heard about “hygge”? It’s a Danish concept that translates roughly to “coziness” and/or “wellbeing”. The Danes have long, dark winters, and yet are considered to be some of the happiest people in the world. Could there be something to this philosophy that’s transferable to our daily lives? Let’s explore further.
First, pronunciation: Penelope Green, in a New York Times article*, says it’s “pronounced HOO-gah, like a football cheer in a Scandinavian accent”. It’s fun already! There are alternate pronunciations, but this seems to be one of the most common, so we’ll go with it.
Second, how to achieve it: apparently, using lots of candles; wearing cozy clothing like fluffy knitted socks; imbibing warm drinks like mulled wine; engaging in low-key socializing in an intimate setting with your friends. The idea seems to be finding pleasure in the small things and experiences, rather than mindlessly spending money to entertain yourself.
Is there value in it? If you look at it as a philosophy about finding contentment in the mundane, I think there is value. In addition, it’s easy enough to implement – just light a few candles, pour a cup of hot chocolate, wrap yourself in a fleece throw with your slippersocks on, and play a board game with a person or people with whom you enjoy spending time (invite your calming friends who won’t get you fired up about politics or other provocative subjects).
Sidebar: personally, I think that a culture’s responsible for something as astoundingly delicious as the kringle (it’s pronounced “kringluh”) deserves some cred. Want to try a kringle? My favorite comes from Larsen’s Danish Bakery in Seattle: https://www.larsensbakery.com/product/kringle-2/. Almond paste, raisins, flaky pastry – oh my! Definitely hyggelig.
Even if hygge is “not your thing”, how can you go wrong by curling up in front of a crackling fire with a mug of gløgg?
More about hygge here:
For the cynical, here’s an article that calls it a “myth”: The Guardian