The art of the Danish concept of Hygge

Hygge means something other than mere convenience, for nature is a question of subjectivity. More important than what it looks like is how it feels. When you look out the window on a clear day and let your face feel the warm sunlight, think of hygge. Or if you are crammed under a soft blanket with the book you are supposed to read, think about it.

It is the feeling, not the cause, that is important. It is when you are comfortable. The thing is, if you think too much about it or force it, you miss the point. You can use warm slippers, a nice cup of tea or even a good meal to achieve hygge. Hygge is part of Danish culture. But it’s not something that just pops up every few years.

If you don’t know how to pronounce it, I have been there as well. Hygge (pronounced hyoo-guh) is a Danish word that is translated as “cosiness” or “comfort,” and it is used to describe the mood and feeling you have when you get comfortable indoors on a cold day. Now that it has entered the American lexicon, it has become a full-blown, Instagram-worthy lifestyle filled with warm blankets and glowing candles. When asked by a Dane what hygge is, they usually say it’s socializing with loved ones at home, snuggling up in warm clothes to feel protected and safe, and enjoying enjoyable foods and drinks such as mulled wine under soft lights. 

The Danish anthropologist Jeppe Linnet has researched the concept of hygge over the years and found that the exact meaning of the term depends on the social environment. It is worth mentioning that hygge is not the same as individual feelings and is not defined only by Danes. 

People with little money, for example, can make themselves comfortable in other ways than people with a lot of money. A visit to the local handball club or a game with friends can have a higher hygge factor for some, while for others it may be too late to play at the Copenhagen theatre. Even though there are different “hygge” scenarios, there are a few things in common: a safe environment, people around you who love delicious food and drink.

Enjoy the Danish concept of Hygge at home

Monday -> Cook a dinner, turn on some music and eat by candlelight.

Tuesday -> Have a screen-free evening with board games or curled up with a good book.

Wednesday -> Buy some flowers or a plant to add some greenery indoors.

Thursday -> Create something, get crafty. You could bake some cookies, write a poem, sketch or knit.

Friday -> Watch a film with family or friends with lots of cosy blankets and hot beverages.

Saturday -> Savor a leisurely morning with breakfast in bed, candles, and a book or craft.

Sunday -> Head outdoors for a long walk to enjoy nature. You could go to a local part of the hiking trail, or simply explore your neighbourhood.

What are Æbleskiver?

Hygge is as Danish as the famous Danish pastry æbleskiver. With the tradition dating back 200 years ago, it is usually served at Christmas time. The word itself is translated to Apple slices. The recipe started as slices of apple dipped in a sweet dough and fried in clarified butter, but evolved to these sphere-shaped pancakes.

Would you like to learn how to make æbleskiver, download our recipe below and velbekomme (that’s Danish for bon appetite).

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Kate Dahl

Career Consultant for Internationals in Denmark. Founder of Career Denmark since 2018. Expat living in Denmark