Getting Cosy: Danish Hygge

Source: The New Yorker, Dec 2016

hygge,” a Danish term defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Pronounced “hoo-guh,” the word is said to have no direct translation in English, though “cozy” comes close. It derives from a sixteenth-century Norwegian term, hugga, meaning “to comfort” or “to console,” which is related to the English word “hug.”

Helen Russell, a British journalist who wrote “The Year of Living Danishly,” defines the term as “taking pleasure in the presence of gentle, soothing things,” like a freshly brewed cup of coffee and cashmere socks.

the true expression of hygge is joining with loved ones in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.

Hygge shares lagoms reverence for measured experience: indulging in a piece of cake, but not outright gluttony; a dinner with friends at home, but nothing fancy.

Louisa Thomsen Brits, a British-Danish writer, casts hygge as a state of mindfulness: how to make essential and mundane tasks dignified, joyful, and beautiful, how to live a life connected with loved ones. Her “Book of Hygge” focusses on the concept’s philosophical and spiritual underpinnings rather than its quirky objects.

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