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What Does Hygge Mean? It’s all about warmth, comfort, and connection.
It’s enjoying a good meal and great conversation with your closest friends. It’s a warm cup of tea and a good book in a comfortable chair. It’s snuggling up in bed with your kids on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Hygge is all of these and more.
Learn a little bit about the Scandinavian art of coziness and connection.
Defining Hygge – What Does Hygge Mean?
There is no direct translation of the word “Hygge” into English, so let’s understand it in context instead. Hygge (pronounced Hoo-gah) comes from Demark and Norway and is the concept of creating comfort and coziness in your life.
It’s no wonder Scandinavian countries have some of the happiest people on Earth when Hygge is embedded in their traditions and heritage. (Of course, social equity, public education, free health care, and a strong sense of community probably help too!)
Alex from HyggeHouse explains it as “a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special”.
The beauty of Hygge is that can be enjoyed anywhere, with anyone, and at any time of the year. It doesn’t require any special tools, and it doesn’t need to cost any money.
There is no official definition of what Hygge is, but it is often described as a variety of feelings tied to comfort, well-being, and social connection.
We will get better acquainted with these as we go on, but essentially hygge is a feeling of emotional warmth and contentment.
What Does Hygge Mean in English?
There is no single English translation for the word and once you have experienced it for yourself you will understand why it is so hard to articulate that cozy, relaxed, connected feeling.
Hygge is sometimes described as an art form.
As Laura Byager explains, the commercialized, mass-marketed version of hygge used to sell products is definitely not what it’s about.
Hygge is about giving yourself permission to fully relax and enjoy. It’s the feeling of a cozy evening with good food and the company of loved ones. It can be celebrated alone, with a long bubble bath and your favorite music, or in a group of friends around a roaring log fire on a cold winter evening.
Embracing hygge looks different for different people. There’s no right or wrong way to hygge.
Maybe you like to knit quietly in your favorite chair. Maybe you like doing jigsaw puzzles with your kids. Maybe you like sipping coffee with your significant other.
It’s important to pay attention to what makes you and your family feel that content, connected feeling. Once you are aware of that hygge feeling, you can start cultivating hygge in your own life.
What does hygge mean to you?
Why Is Hygge So Popular?
Hygge helps us appreciate the small moments in life. It helps us slow down and really see the beauty around us. We all know how good mindfulness is for us, and hygge is a great companion to being in a mindful state.
Most of our lives are so hectic – kids to chauffeur, jobs to work, to-do lists to finish, social media to check. We never really get a break.
In a world where we can (apparently) have it all, we sometimes forget to value what is truly important – our own happiness, our mental health, and relationships with our nearest and dearest loved ones.
Hygge helps us to remember all those things and to be grateful for what we have in our lives. I think many of us need that now more than ever.
You have probably already experienced Hygge without realizing it. If you take time out for yourself to meditate, keep a journal or pursue a fulfilling hobby, notice how you feel when doing those things. Do you feel happy and content? Sort of connected to that thing you’re doing?
If so, you are already experiencing the feeling of Hygge.
Hygge During the Holiday Season
As Hygge is often associated with winter and cold, dark, nights. It’s no surprise, then, that it is also associated with Christmas. What does hygge mean as it relates to the holidays?
The Christmas Season really is the true essence of hygge; spending time with family, eating good food, and enjoying Christmas festivities. In Scandinavia spending time in the countryside is very popular, as many people have access to a cabin in the forest.
When we talk about “what does hygge mean” it’s also important to note what it does not mean. As the hygge concept catches on in the US and Canada, retailers would have us believe it’s about buying something – buying a specific book, a specific blanket, or decorating your house in a particular way.
While buying these things may affect the way you feel in the very short term, hygge is not about spending or buying things. Just like love, you can’t buy hygge.
The Christmas season is a celebration of life and family – an end to another year and the beginning of the next. Our daily routines slow down for a few days and we take time to reflect and enjoy our family and friends, like no other time in the year.
How to Develop a Hygge Lifestyle
There are a few books on Hygge, with “The Little Book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking being one of the most popular.
Aside from learning the basics of the concept though, isn’t really anything you can buy or do to “become hygge” instantly. Just as you don’t need designer yoga pants to do actual yoga, you don’t need any particular product to experience hygge.
It’s not about acquiring stuff – it’s a mindset practiced and cultivated over time.
While the rest of the world slowly realizes the positive effects of Hygge on our wellbeing, the Danish are so invested in Hygge that it simply permeates their day-to-day activities.
With that said, let’s explore some helpful basics for developing hygge. You can’t buy hygge, but you can set the stage to experience the feeling for yourself.
9 Wonderful Ways to Invite Hygge
Alright, you’re sold. You want that warm, fuzzy hygge feeling for yourself.
But you understand that Hygge is not something you can just order on demand. You can’t buy a hygge kit or put up some hygge decorations to achieve it.
So, how what can you do to invite more Hygge into your life?
Think of it this way – hygge can happen just about anywhere, doing just about anything. It’s something that occurs naturally when the mood is right.
Here are a few simple ways to invite it in, and increase your chances of experiencing hygge.
4. Include Some Natural Sounds
For many of us who live in urban environments, everyday life is full of noise.
It’s now known that even low-frequency sounds (the ambient noises we may encounter in an open office space or in the grocery store without much notice) can be mentally taxing. Unfortunately, we can’t really escape the sounds that surround us as we go about our days.
Research has shown, though, that exposure to natural sounds such as wind, water, and bird song can actually have a calming effect and lower stress. These sounds give our brains the signal that our current environment is peaceful and safe.
Blocking out unwanted noise at home can help encourage hygge by allowing our bodies to relax. Turn off noise-emitting devices and use fabrics (think curtains, upholstery, rugs, and pillows) to dampen echos.
Try getting out into the forest if possible, where these relaxing, natural sounds outnumber man-made noise. At home, you can play “sounds of nature” recordings, or even soft, gentle music to send your brain the message that it’s safe to relax.
Ideas to Incorporate Hygge in Your Life What Does Hygge Mean
What Does Hygge Mean? Here’s a go-to list of ideas to inspire comfort, happiness, and all-round hygge experiences:
- Wind down and turn off distractions – that includes phones
- Light a few candles or a log fire
- Use aromatherapy, essential oils, or burn incense
- Make homemade crafts
- Play your favourite, relaxing music
- Practice mindfulness with an adult colouring book
- Get cozy and read your favourite book
- Pick a bunch of wild flowers or evergreen sprigs to brighten up your home
- Meet up with friends, enjoy good conversation and delicious food and drink
- Snuggle up on the sofa with lots of blankets and your favorite persion
This list is written to give you a base to develop your own ideas. What’s important is how you feel and creating your perfect atmosphere to help you relax, reset and refresh your body.
What Does Hygge Mean? It’s up to You!
As you can see, hygge is a concept we can all start to practice more often. Honestly, who doesn’t need a little extra coziness, especially this time of year? Besides, you already have everything you need to get started.
Taking the time to slow down, appreciate the life we have and the people we love the most is always a worthwhile exercise. Practicing the hygge ideas and techniques mentioned above is sure to have a positive impact on your mental health and maybe even make your winter a little warmer.