Hygge: A Danish Concept of Coziness

by Ella Kazazic

Denmark constantly tops lists of happiest countries in the world, and what distinguishes it from

others is its quest for hygge.

Hygge, pronounced “huuhhpgh-ghhrugh”, is a Danish concept that has invaded other countries

and become a new obsession. Although there is no definite translation to English, etymology

provides a few hints, as the word “hygge” comes from the Old Norse words “hig”, which

means cozy, and “ger”, which means fire hazard. In fact, what Americans perceive to be a fire

hazard is seen as an antidepressant for Danes. Hygge involves the coziness of homespun

pleasures, like candlelight, fire, fuzzy socks or sweaters, coffee, cake, and other similar items.

Although the Norwegians coined the word, hygge is now an entirely Danish concept. The

Norwegians actually aren’t very hygge, according to Dr. Magnus Olsensen, since “It takes

more than bad weather and very high taxes to be hygge.”

So how can one achieve hygge? To do this, one must be calm and content, and suppress their

emotions, leaving only a tiny tint of mild or neutral feelings. One also must use the correct

vocabulary. The adjective form of hygge is hyggelig, which is pronounced “huuhhpgh-

ghhrugh-lee”. One that has achieved hygge is called a “hygge-ster”, and certain hygge

situations can lead someone to be in a state of pure hygginess. Once you are in this state, you

may have found “hygge-topia”. Meik Wiking, the founder and chief executive of the

Happiness Institute, said that to be hygge, “We talk about it constantly. I’ll invite you over for

dinner and during the week we’ll talk about how hyggelig it’s going to be, and then during the

dinner we’ll talk about how hyggelig it is, and then during the week afterwards, you’ll remind

me about how hyggelig Saturday was.”

In a nutshell, the key to achieving hygge is to be cozy, talk about hygge, and experience the joy

of watching things burn. If you accomplish this, then you will eventually find hygge-topia.