Embracing ‘Hygge’

March 5, 2016
Embracing Hygge - The Project Lifestyle

A quick, 5 minute read for the morning before you start your day all about a word I’ve recently learned and come to love. As you may have read, this post is called ‘Embracing hygge’. Now for those of you who have never heard of the word hygge, you’re in for a treat…

I first heard of this word a few months ago when a new friend (also called Rachel) told me all about why it was her new favourite word. After this, I went and did some research – looking up the history and context of this word.

‘Hygge’ is a Danish word, which I believe is pronounced ‘hoo-ga’. There is no English equivalent of this word, but In simple terms, the closest word we probably have in the English language is ‘cosiness’.

But, what exactly is ‘hygge’?

Well first, we’ll look at life in Denmark… With long and cold winters where there can be up to 17 hours of darkness per day and temperatures much below 1C, people in Denmark spend many hours and days indoors. That’s not to say that hygge is only enjoyed inside and in the wintertime, but perhaps it will help us to understand the basic concept.

Sitting by a roaring open fire on a frosty night with a woolly jumper and a hot chocolate and a surrounding of candles – that’s ‘hygge’.

Eating home-made cakes, watching your favourite TV show, snuggling up with a loved one under a duvet, drinking wine with friends – they’re all ‘hygge’ too!

I’ve learnt that ‘hygge’ is almost a state of being; it describes the times you’re relaxed, having fun, feeling loved and feeling at home. It appears to be all about feeling comfortable in your surroundings and in your own skin. It’s about forgetting your cares or worries but instead embracing the little things in life that make life sweet – which links into what I wrote in my blog’s bio, because I’m all about the little details!

The adjectival form of hygge is “hyggeligt”, a word offered as a compliment to a host after a pleasant evening at their home.

“Hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt,”  –  ToveMaren Stakkestad

Looking further into this, I chatted to my friend Ellen who’s from Norway and she explained that they have a word there which is “kos”, that has the exact same meaning. She said that our adjective ‘cosy’ is a good start, even though it only describes the beginning of what the term means… Here’s how Ellen described ‘kos’:

” ‘Kos’ is the state you’re in when it is “koselig” or cosy. It is koselig to go to the pub with friends. It is koselig to snuggle up on the sofa, wearing pyjamas and drinking hot chocolate with candles burning. It is cosy to bring a thermos with hot chocolate on a hike in the snow. As it tends to get cold here in Norway, I suppose ‘kos’ could be something that heats us up from the inside and melts the ice. It’s a word that describes the feelings associated with your heart being warmed up.”

When it boils down to it, we can look into all the definitions an abstract meanings of the words ‘hygge’ or ‘kos’, or we can continue trying to translate it into something English speakers can relate to (we’d probably still miss the true meaning but we would hope to understand it that bit better), but really, I think ‘hygge’ is something you have to feel to understand… and once you’ve felt it, I think it’s about embracing it as a state of being.

Reading about ‘hygge’ has made me want to adjust my priorities to live a life fuelling the cosiness of the soul with the little things; the people, the places and the stories that make you smile and warm your heart.

What does ‘hygge’ look like to you? Leave a comment below!

1 Comment

  • Reply Rachel March 21, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Yes Hygge!
    For me it’s our wood burner on, whilst reading good book that you can’t put down, big woolly socks and a mug of Chai latte. (If it’s Christmas that’s always a bonus too!)

    OR on the flip side, it’s fire pits late into the night in summer with friends (even better when you’re at the beach!)

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