hygge uses candles to bring light to the dark.
Ive fallen in love with a word.
Unlike falling in love with a person I have no recollection the first time we “met.” The idea, sense and awkward pronunciation, however, has remained with me.
The term comes from a Norwegian word meaning “well-being” (the Danes began using it in the late 18th century) and is pronounced hue-gah.
The unique thing about hygge is, even in Norwegian, it doesn’t really have clear definition as it’s more a feeling than an act.
It also doesn’t have an English translation better than the general art of building sanctuary and community.
I’ve long been fascinated by the fact Danes are some of the happiest people on earth despite loooong, dark winters (during the shortest days they see only 6 hours of sunlight).
Our shortest winter days in Texas are nothing close to that– yet I still dread the annual lack of sun.
Unlike writer-friends who welcome early nightfall and seize it as a sign to cocoon indoors—darker afternoons depress me.
I’ve dreaded this year’s falling back on 11.1 pretty much since we ‘fell’ last year.
Hygge takes on greater importance to the Danes during the winter.
This Texan, in preparation for the dark, El Nino winter ahead, has decided to join them and search for/create hygge in Austin.
Screenshot of last winter’s weather forecast.
For me hygge symbolizes the ultimate act of prioritizing self-care.
Indulging through connection with others and through ritual.
Hygge is not punishing or denying ourselves (hence the happiest people on earth creating it?) in the name of self-improvement.
(I’ve read Danes rarely binge/purge or yo-yo diet. Given this life-approach that would make sense.)
I’ve created a definition of hygge for myself.
For me it will center around making time to relax (alone and with others. hygge works both ways) and creating a warm atmosphere in my home (which still feels like a house) so all who live here/visit feel rooted and connected.
hygee can be a long, soothing bath…with or without friends.
For me hygge seems mental. An attitude.
“Things” are often involved (snuggly sweaters to winter darkness fighting candles) yet the emphasis is on the feeling and connecting.
For me hygge seems behavior based.
It makes sense hygge leads to happiness as it simultaneously emphasizes how we act toward others and how lovingly we treat ourselves.
For me hygge seems to be creating intimacy with those you’d only be loosely connected to otherwise.
Hygge is like hosting a constant crappy dinner and carefully choosing who you’d want to attend?
and always more hygee candles…
For me hygge seems slow.
The longer I’ve explored hygge as approach to life the more it appears hygge cannot be rushed.
Are Danes less busy than we Americans? I say no. I’d contend they just choose their priorities.
For me hygge seems social. Unless it’s not.
As I dug more deeply into the word and its practice I found a growing gap between old school practitioners and the newer generation.
Hygge used to necessitate being with people (social support is key for overall happiness!) yet for the Danes this has shifted.
Younger Danes have mad it now OK to hygge solo.
Hygge for me is reading at night while snuggled in a fleece blanket.
Hygge for me is a long walk–with only the Doodle for company–just as dusk is coming.
Hygge for me is the feeling I get when family members gather around a too tiny table for laughter and connection.
hygee can be silly.
I guess, for this WannaBeDaneTexan, hygge is defined as the art of creating intimacy through (seemingly) small everyday acts.
It’s an overall feeling of pleasure and being present whether alone or with others.
- Had you heard of hygge before?
- What would hygge look like for you?