One of the most common questions we come across in Denmark is visitors or new transplants asking, “what does hygge mean?” But hygge isn’t just a word; it’s a concept, and as such, there’s really no direct translation.
What does hygge mean?
If we had to give you a few sentences to define it, we’d say:
Hygge is about cosiness and surrounding yourself with the things that make life good, like friendship, laughter and security, as well as more concrete things like warmth, light, seasonal food and drink.
Though hygge is often used to describe the way Danes survive winter (and it most definitely is the way we survive winter), being hyggeligt isn’t limited to the cold months. Because we can’t give it to you in exact words, here’s a visual representation of how to hygge throughout the seasons.
Perhaps the time when hygge is most needed, winter in Denmark is dark, cold and windy. So combat it with warming food, alcohol (or hot chocolate; you do you), candles, wool blankets, and lots of small gatherings with your friends. This hygge can take place in a small restaurant or in the home. Extra points over Christmas, when hygge goes into overdrive.
Spring in Denmark can vacillate between absolutely lovely and absolutely abysmal. Likewise, hygge at this time of year can fill a fairly wide space. When it’s cold, go with winter hygge. When it’s not so cold, spring hygge looks like garden parties with lots of flowers, light colors, and taking shelter from the rain in a cafe.
Ah, the hygge of summer. So simple, so free. Barbecues in the backyard or park, bonfires on the park, ice cream along the beach, strawberries. Now doesn’t that sound nice?
Autumn hygge looks a lot like winter hygge except that you’re not quite as cold. Expect old fashioned apple cake, cinnamon, heavy jumpers and your number of dinner party/coffee date invitations to increase, because Danes will be sliding into the warm glow of peak hygge season…
Do you define hygge differently? Have a story of hygge you want to share? Tell us about it!