What Does Hygge Mean? Decoding the Danish Lifestyle

What Does Hygge Mean? Decoding the Danish Lifestyle

  • March 21, 2023

Merriam-Webster defines the word “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-gah”) as a cozy quality that makes a person feel content and comfortable. Although you may be unfamiliar with the Danish term, you’ve most likely experienced the feeling that comes with it. If you’ve ever wrapped yourself up in your favourite blanket, with a good book and a warm cup of tea on a rainy day, you’ve experienced hygge already. So, what is it, really?  

What Does Hygge Mean 

Hygge is all about community, comfort, relaxation, simplicity, charm, intention and indulgence. It’s about enjoying good things with good people. It’s the pursuit of everyday joy in little and big things. Hygge feels a bit like a warm hug.  

Danes practice hygge all year round. Once you are familiar with the concept, it’s all about focusing on the present and savouring daily simple pleasures. When you allow yourself to stop and take it all in, you can find happiness everywhere. In the warm glow of candlelight, in the coziness of your favourite wool socks, in the way the sunshine streams through your window during golden hour or in a really good conversation with an even better cup of hot cocoa. Perhaps this approach to life explains why Denmark is amongst the happiest places in the world.  

Still, hygge is up to interpretation. Comfort is subjective, what works for one, may not work for all. Your definition of hygge may very well be different from ours.  

How to Add the Danish Concept to Your Routine 

Incorporating the concept into our daily lives is as simple as paying attention to the things we already do. Chances are, there’s plenty of coziness in your life. Focus on the values of hygge: comfort, togetherness, relaxation, and start recognizing them and honouring their presence.  

What Is Hygge 

The list of what constitutes as hygge can be as long or as short as you make it, it’s all about how they make you feel. 

  • Curling up by the fire 
  • Sharing a meal with friends or family  
  • Throw blankets and oversized sweaters 
  • Cozying up with a loved one for a movie  
  • Candlelight and the atmosphere it creates 
  • Reading in your favourite armchair  
  • Comfort food and hot drinks  
  • Hyggebsukers, or your favourite sweatpants 
  • Baking bread or cinnamon rolls  
  • Spending quality time with friends and family 
  • Going for long walks  

What Is Not Hygge 

On the other hand, there are a few things which we may do, but don’t necessarily fit under the Danish umbrella of the concept.  

  • Staring at your phone all day long
  • Following restrictive rules
  • Staying inside all-day
  • Buying stuff to be on trend

So, what is hygge? It’s conscious coziness, whatever you make of it. We can all learn from each other when it comes to wellness, whether it’s the Danes with hygge, the Japanese with Shinrin-Yoku or the German with the Aufguss ritual, what matters is how we all come together to be our best.