To be perfectly honest I had never heard of Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) but it’s definitely something we should know about as it’s certainly trending!
The term actually originates from a Norwegian word meaning “wellbeing” and it first appeared in Danish writing in the 19th Century and since then has very much instilled itself into Danish culture.
In the UK, it translates itself into ‘Cosyness’ and of course sounds quite like the English word “hug” for which the Oxford English Dictionary lists no origins, however an obsolete meaning of hug is “to cherish oneself, or to make oneself snug” according to the OED. Having said all that, the Danish translator ToveMaren Stakkestad wrote that “Hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt”. It’s very much about an attitude to life that helps Denmark to vie with Switzerland and Iceland to be the world’s happiest country.
Morley College, in central London has even started teaching students how to achieve hygge as part of its Danish Language course. Lecturer Susanne Nilsson says “We have long, cold winters in Denmark and as a result people spend much more time indoors meaning there is a greater focus on entertaining at home”
So, it’s all about getting together with friends and family, dimming the lights, getting cosy under the duvet, lighting some candles, and sitting around the log fire. In the old days, it was more about reading a good book or playing traditional games one would expect, but perhaps now it’s more about watching a good film on a cold, damp and dingy Saturday afternoon.
The overall theme is now starting to appear over here in Scandinavian-themed restaurants, bars and cafes with intimate settings and a focus on comforting food and with this, it’s increasing discussion of the term in the UK and whilst this blog is just a taster, Kayleigh Turner is the author of Hello Hygge blog, devoted entirely to Hygge!
Following the clocks change this weekend and the darker evenings and as we head towards winter it’s definitely time for us all to ‘hygge’