The Danes call it Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga)
Norwegians call it Koselig
It has no English translation and…. I can’t stop thinking about it.
“Hygge was never meant to be translated- it was meant to be felt”
What is it?
I first came across something similar in France, the French saying Joie de Vivre, and it struck a cord. Then through a friend, I was introduced to the concept of Hygge and how it can be embraced, even in homeschooling.
Hygge, Koselig, Joie de Vivre- is a feeling, that’s much more than a “word”. It’s an attitude, a setting, a way of life, and it’s a big part of some of the world’s happiest people.
Norway, Switzerland, and Sweden rank among the world's top 5 happiest countries on earth. When I initially think of these countries, I think of dark (up to 17 hours a day), cold, and even dreary. I don’t know about you, but “happy” doesn’t exactly call out to me. However, the Danes have figured out a way to live quite happily.
Hygge is an atmosphere of coziness, enjoyment, thankfulness, and peace. Think of American Thanksgiving, or at least what it used to be, a time spent with friends and family, a cozy atmosphere, filled with candles, flowers, and delicious food. It’s not about any of the things exactly, it’s about the attitude each of these things creates in us. And above all Hygge isn’t a production. It’s simple everyday considerations.
Maybe it’s my love of coffee, candles, and good food, three important pieces of living Hygge. In Denmark, candles are so important to Hygge that they are often used in board rooms and classrooms. I don’t know about you, but none of my corporate experiences involved any sort of coziness or candles.
My husband works with many countries all over the world, and he has often remarks on the benefit packages/work life balance of those compared to Americans. Most notably the amount of hours they don’t spend working. I love how I witnessed long workday lunches in Paris. Even little daycare toddler’s sitting (not strapped into a high chair) eating off real plates, using actual silverware, eating a meal I would be envious of.
“Danes have been proven to be less materialistic than other cultures- and we appreciate low cost actives and simple things in life, like having a coffee and lighting some candles to create a cosy atmosphere”
Meik Wiking CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen.
The French and Italians so value a long slow meal, one that is about the event not about the speed of consumption. It’s also not about binging. When most Americans are dieting and “cutting back” after our yo-yo of feast and famine, I think about a culture that makes the best of things by embracing a kinder warmer approach to living.
I want more Hygge in my life. I want Hygge in our home, homeschooling, and friendships. It shouldn’t be a “luxury" to sit and count our blessings in an intentionally cozy environment. I don’t need a special occasion or life altering event to make the everyday dreary into something special.
So… I’m going to keep lighting the candles, turning on the twinkly lights, and making an effort to have a home and life filled with more Hygge.