More than three years ago, in 2013, I was living in Europe and traveled in Denmark for some time. It was there that I discovered the concept of hygge. I knew it was special and started Hygge Life with the intent to share this concept with loved ones at home. After returning home, first to Amsterdam, and eventually to Colorado, I kept asking myself - "What does hygge really mean to the Danes?" I traveled to Denmark once again and spoke with with a 7 year-old boy, a candlemaker, a baker, a waiter, designers, a family, and hotelier to get the native perspective on hygge.
So, what is hygge you ask? Here's what the Danes have to say...
Alvin, a 7 year old Danish boy, shyly explained hygge as an evening with the family playing games, "not video games" he clarified, but board games and reading books.
Carsten, the owner of a traditional & age-old, Danish candle-making company, spoke of hygge as a sense of togetherness. Slowing down and spending quality time with loved ones, more often than not with good food and conversation around a dining table. Spending a cozy winter day inside in pajamas is one of his families’ favorite hygge pastimes.
Louise & Marie, of the Apartment, a high end & gorgeous home goods shop in a first floor Copenhagen apartment, had trouble coming up with just one way to describe hygge. They explained that overall, hygge is feeling at ease, having a good time, and enjoying the moment. A moment that makes you stop & think, “this is something special.” It’s when the pace of life slows down and you are there in the moment enjoying the nice ambience. To Marie & Louise, hygge is also about cozy, soft clothing and a comfy chair.
Nils, Malou & Josephine are a beautiful Danish family and owners of a home goods line, called Sirocco Living, the source of alabaster and salt rock candleholders & baskets we sell in the Hygge Life shop. I interviewed each of them on their thoughts on hygge.
Nils went into detail about his most hyggelig moments. He reminisced about warm days on his boat with nice friends, a fresh drink in hand and sunshine. He also told stories of relaxing summer nights outside around the campfire, sitting on a sheepskin and enjoying good company. On winter nights, his most hyggelig moments are spent inside with good food & once again, good company.
Malou described hygge as good times spent inside with candlelight, a fireplace and nice food. She explained that the winter season in Copenhagen is long and dark and the key to surviving the winter is being together.
Nils & Malou's daughter, 7 year-old Josephine, associates hygge with making a drawing.
Jeppe, a waiter at Grod, a delicious and surprisingly gourmet porridge restaurant, easily explained hygge as having a good time and a "chill and cozy" atmosphere.
The Central Hotel & Café radiates hygge. It is a tiny house amongst larger buildings in the middle of Copenhagen and has been converted to a one-bedroom hotel with a café on the bottom floor. The friendly host, Iben, spoke to us about hygge over a cup of coffee. She rolled her eyes up to the sky in deep thought and explained, “It is feeling of being at home with certain people or in a particular atmosphere.” She continued in saying a “hygge place” is all about lighting, comfort & warm colors and the "hygge feeling" can also come from moments alone under your duvet with hot cocoa or tea.
We walked up to Dani at the Mirabelle Bakery to taste the best croissants in Copenhagen and thinking she was Danish, asked her, “What does hygge mean to you?” She smiled explaining that she was Canadian but had been there long enough to know & appreciate hygge. She plainly stated, “Hygge is everything.” Hygge is a candle in a window or music that is playing and creating the perfect ambience. It’s a sunny day in the park with 2 friends and beers. Hygge is all about moments.
After these conversations and reflecting on my own thoughts on hygge, I realized that everyone, young, old, boy, girl, and with all different backgrounds, has their own ideas on what hygge is and the same potential to experience it. Hygge is a feeling, an atmosphere, a moment that leaves a person feeling content, warm and happy. Let's all bring more hygge into our lives!