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What is hygge? The meaning of Scandinavian hygge

If you’re a fan of all things Scandinavian (like we are), then you’re probably no stranger to the term “hygge”.

Introduced by the Danish to describe the joy of comfy living, hygge is a popular concept that many Scandinavian locals hold dear.

These days, it’s also gaining more popularity in countries all around the world.

Though tough to explain (and even tougher to pronounce), hygge is earning a lot of attention lately.

As people everywhere search for a better quality of life, hygge shows us how Denmark has emerged as one of the happiest countries in the world.

More than just phrase, Scandinavian hygge is a way of life, committed to celebrating coziness, friendship, family, and so much more.

Here’s what you need to know about hygge.

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What is hygge? A definition of hygge

Hygge might be a Danish term, but it’s something that spreads across most of Scandinavia. Most people in the region will be able to tell you about the “origins of hygge”.

In essence, this term refers to the ability to create a warm atmosphere, and enjoy the good things in life, with great people.

Sound confusing?

Hygge is tough to understand at first. It’s more of a feeling and a concept than a specific thing.

The warm glow of candlelight when you’re snuggled up on your favorite chair is hygge. Meeting friends at a coffee shop you love is hygge too.

There’s nothing more hygge than enjoying a home-cooked meal with family.

Even a good pair of sweatpants can count as hygge, and Danish people repeatedly call them hyggebusker. The term describes a pair of pants that you’d probably never wear in public, but love wearing when you’re binge-watching Netflix.

Danes are obsessed with adding hygge to words to help describe things. “Hyggelig” means that something is hygge-like. The term “Hyggekrog” is basically the name for a comfy corner in your home where you feel super cozy.

A history of hygge: The origins of hygge

Similar to the German idea of gemutlichkeit, the warm and cozy lifestyle of hygge is a long-standing part of Danish culture. Since the early 1800s, the word has stood out as an excellent way to describe the joy of comfy living.

Some people say that hygge comes from a Norwegian word meaning wellbeing. Others suggest that Hygge stems from the Old Norse word, Hyggja. Hygge may also refer to the Old Norse word for hug, which is “hugr”.

Although the term can be both an adjective and a noun in Denmark, it’s more of a way of life — and the lifestyle trend continues to gain popularity today. In 2016, it was even one of the Collins Words of the Year, falling just after Brexit.

In 2017, America discovered the wonders of hygge too, with countless publications covering the idea, and new books appearing almost overnight. The term hygge began to trend on social media, and Pinterest predicted that it would be one of the world’s most exciting décor trends.

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What is Scandinavian hygge?

Hygge is all about comfort, peace, and happiness. That means that the definition can differ depending on who you ask.

Many Danish people agree that candles are some of the most important features in creating a “hyggelig” atmosphere.

Danes apparently burn around 13 pounds of candle wax a year, which is more than any other country.

Other things that might be hygge include:

  • Fireplaces: Is there anything cozier than snuggling up with your loved ones in front of an authentic fireplace? Bonus points if you add candles to the mantle.
  • Throw blankets: Whether you’re looking for a chunky weighted blanket or a heated throw, a great blanket is fantastic for creating a hygge atmosphere.
  • Comfort food: Comfort food is a big deal in Denmark. Sweet treats and baked goods that remind you of home are absolutely hygge. Indulging in hot drinks is a great idea if you want to feel hygge too.
  • Loved ones: It’s hard to create the true essence of hygge without some people near and dear to you. Friends and family make hygge feel incredible.
  • Self-care: Looking after yourself with a good book, a delicious meal and a hot bath is absolutely hygge.

Getting hygge with it: Products to try for a hygge experience

Want a taste of hygge for yourself? Don’t worry, you don’t have to learn how to make your own Danish meatballs to get involved.

Here are some great products that can introduce you to hygge, and help you make the most of it:

1. The little book of hygge

The little book of hygge is a wonderful narration by Meik Wiking that teaches you everything you need to know about channeling hygge.

With this best-selling book, you’ll discover why the Danes are the happiest people in the world, and how you can transform your home into a place of peace and relaxation. Meik introduces us to the concept of hygge as a feeling of comfort and togetherness.

A great read, the little book of hygge is all about learning how to live well. You’ll discover what it means to be involved in the moment and make the most of the little things. Meik also discusses things like how to build relationships and spend the right amount of time with your tribe.

An extra bonus? This book gives you the perfect excuse to spend more time and money indulging yourself. Treats, cakes, and “bonuses” are extremely hygge.

2. The hygge game

What better way to learn everything there is to know about hygge than with a board game? This interesting title comes with 300 interesting and thought-provoking questions that are intended to help spark cozy conversations with the family members and friends you love.

One of the most iconic parts of hygge is having conversations with people you care about. This game introduces you to ways of hosting cozy conversations in pleasant company, so you can make the most of the times you have with the people you care about.

It’s a great way to break the ice when you’re having a nice night in.

3. Sherpa blanket

Bring a taste of Denmark into your home with a huge cozy blanket than you and your loved ones can snuggle in. This huge Sherpa fleece blanket is the ultimate investment in a comfortable evening with friends — making it a fantastic example of hygge.

Fuzzy and soft, this is a blanket that you’ll love wrapping yourself up in during the winter months. It’s perfect for evenings on your own when you want to be extra good to yourself.

Alternatively, if you’re enjoying the snuggly months of the year with someone else, then the Bedsure Sherpa fleece blanket is big enough to share too.

4. Hygge candle set

Scandinavian hygge is all about soft smells and candlelight. This set of three candles from SKAN D NA VISK is the perfect introduction to a Danish lifestyle.

There are three fragrances included, including HYGGE for strawberry and rose petals, KOTO for amber and jasmine, and RO for fresh grass and crumpled leaves.

If you don’t love the sound of those fragrances — don’t worry. You can always use any candle to create your hygge environment. Alternatively, try a flameless candle for soft light if you’re worried about having an open fire around the house.

5. Cozy socks

You can enjoy hygge at any time of year, but its most commonly mentioned during the winter months. That’s because the colder seasons in Scandinavia offer endless opportunities to get snuggly with roaring fires, throws, and cozy socks.

This set of vintage socks for women is a great example of some hygge style living, and it even comes with Danish patterns to enjoy. Remember, if you want a truly hygge set of socks, then you should opt for luxurious materials, and thick knits!

6. Hygge Nordic Secrets

If the little book of hygge increased your appetite for learning more about Danish culture and cozy living, then the Hygge Nordic Secrets book by Signe Johansen is a great purchase.

Here, you can continue your education into hygge as a style of living, with access to tons of information about where hygge came from, and how people can find their own sense of hygge.

Signe Johansen gives plenty of brilliant advice in this easy-to-read book, with tips on how you can cherish your friends and your loved ones. You’ll also learn a little more about how you can transform your life by treasuring experiences over material possessions.

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Recreating Danish hygge happiness

Hygge might be a concept that began in Denmark, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t embrace it anywhere in the world. The idea of Danish coziness is simple enough when you get down to it.

Ultimately, all you need is to spend more time doing the things you love, in places where you feel the most comfortable.

You don’t have to travel to Denmark and snuggle up in the cold weather at winter to discover the value of hygge. Spending more candlelit moments in your home could be enough to take your happiness to the next level.

Good luck finding your inner Scandinavian hygge.

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