“Hygge” is a Danish term defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment and well-being.” It has also been described as “a feeling or mood that comes taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments beautiful or special,” and “the art of creating intimacy, either with yourself, friends and your home.”
I was interested to learn that there have a number of books about hygge published this year in the United States, with more expected in 2017.
A recent New Yorker article called winter “the most hygge time of year,” suggesting that hygge
is candles, nubby woolens, shearling slippers, woven textiles, pastries, blond wood, sheepskin rugs, lattes with milk-foam hearts, and a warm fireplace. Hygge can be used as a noun, adjective, verb, or compound noun, like hyggebukser, otherwise known as that shlubby pair of pants you would never wear in public but secretly treasure. Hygge can be found in a bakery and in the dry heat of a sauna in winter, surrounded by your naked neighbors. It’s wholesome and nourishing, like porridge; Danish doctors recommend “tea and hygge” as a cure for the common cold. It’s possible to hyggealone, wrapped in a flannel blanket with a cup of tea, but the true expression of hygge is joining with loved ones in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. One of the more common responses to “How are you,” is “busy, really busy.”
One of the more common responses in the United States to “how are you?” is “busy, really busy.” We put so much stress on using our time “productively,” viewing “really busy” as a virtue.
Perhaps the recent interest in books about hygge might signal a desire to change that. We could all do with less stress on being busy all of the time and more on “the art of creating intimacy.”