A Heart-Warming Lesson in Hygge

2:39:00 PM

If you have been keeping up with political news lately, you might have heard Denmark come up in a conversation or two.  Bernie Sanders has often spoken of Denmark with fondness, suggesting that the US become more like Denmark when it comes to taking care of it's people.  Others on the opposite side of the spectrum are vehemently opposed to the idea of becoming more like Denmark.

No matter what side of the political spectrum you may lie, you may have, there is one lesson we can all learn from Denmark, that is guaranteed to improve our daily lives.  And it's just one simple word.


Despite living in a small subarctic country that experiences 17 hours of darkness in the winter, Danes remain surprisingly happy.  It is no secret that Denmark consistently ranks as one of the happiest nations on earth.  In fact, many people attribute this happiness to hygge.

But what is it?  And more importantly, how do you pronounce it?

Hygge, pronounced hoo-ga, is one of the most commonly used words in Denmark, yet has no direct  English (or perhaps any) translation.  That's because there is no concrete definition for it.  It's not an action or a thing, but a feeling.  A feeling of slowing down and taking pleasure from simple, ordinary things in life, and the way people interact with each other.  After you have experienced hygge you say you have had a hyggelig time or day.

It's one of my most favorite Danish words.  It's fun to say.  And it's one of my most favorite things I look forward to experiencing in Denmark each time we visit.

Derived from the Norwegian word for "well-being" in the late 18th century, it is thought that the concept of hygge was formed to help make the cold, dark winters more tolerable.  Today the word can be applied to any season in Denmark, and it is thought to make people happier and homes more homier.

Danes use hygge to combat the doldrums of winter, and believe me, it is needed.  Winters are brutal in Denmark.  Think Land That's Always Winter from Game of Thrones brutal.  You don't want to be outside.  Once darkness falls, Danes light their homes, restaurants, and bars with candles.  Lots of candles.  Danes are crazy about candles.  Lighting candles and sharing a bottle of wine with family or friends in winter is one way to experience hygge.

Gathering around the table and sharing a delicious Christmas dinner is another.   Spending time with each other instead of focusing on getting the latest and greatest gifts.

But hygge doesn't just apply to winter.  In summer, hygge can be as simple as grilling hot dogs and sharing a beer with family at the summerhouse.

The first time feeling Danish sand on your feet in the summer.

Enjoying afternoon coffee with family.

Sharing a glass of wine with your mother-in-law on a swing set.

Picking out fresh-from-the-ocean mussels with your father-in-law.

Sharing a hammock with your sister.

Enjoying a crazy-expensive lunch with your husband while the kids spend the afternoon with their grandparents.

If you feel the need to get away from people, you can experience hygge yourself by reading a good book or drinking a good cup of coffee or tea.  Taking a walk to clear your mind.

Hygge is that and more in Denmark.  And I cannot wait to go back to Denmark for Christmas this year and experience it all over again.

You Might Also Like


Follow Along!

Join me as I share with you my favorite destinations around my hometown and around the world. This blog is written by me to share my adventures with you, and inspire you to take more adventures of your own, and capture them in your own unique way!

Shop Amazon