December 09, 2009

What is “hygge” for you?

Hygge is a Danish word. Here are a couple of definitions:

"Hygge is a feeling of friendship, warmth, contentment and peace with your immediate surroundings." Source.
"Hygge is a Danish word which has no exact lexical meaning to English, but the closest is "cosiness". However, this word for the Danes is much more complex than that. It involves the environment around you and the feelings you have towards them. It relates to all your physical senses and emotional one too: warmth, fulfillness, closeness, relaxing, and maybe sincereness. Therefore, it is difficult to explain, but the best way is just simply to experience it." Source.

When I think about "hygge", I think, for example, about the use of candles, for example at windows, as well as the use of small table lamps with indirect light. To illustrate a contrast in this regard: Hygge, to me, is not about very strong, bright, direct light coming from a huge lamp attached to the ceiling lighting up an entire room.

To me, "hygge" is, at this time of the year, also about Christmas decorations at home and in the streets. When you experience that people have worked on creating a Christmas culture in and around their homes, it contributes to Christmas being a “hyggelig” time. In other words, "hygge" is about creating an atmosphere where one of the more important competencies is using the heart.

Reflecting on aspects that strengthen the feeling of "hygge", I came to think, for example, about the fact that, during the Winter, it gets dark relatively early in Denmark. I think this may be one natural explanation why many Danes make an effort of making their homes "hyggelige".

Also, I came to think about the fact that, although both "Du" and "De" exist in the Danish language – like "Du" and "Sie" exist in German and "Tu" as well as "Vous" exist in French - the Danes say "du" to each other more often than the German and French speaking populations say "Du" and “Tu” respectively to each other. This, I think, is quite important. Saying "Du" to the person(s) you speak with almost automatically makes the atmosphere more informal, more personal.

What is hygge for you?
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