On Saturday we were doing errands. My husband came with me. Dogs in the back.
Between picking up something at my friend’s store and hitting the grocery store, we
stopped for coffee. And a morning glory muffin.
My husband kept driving.
Pull over I said. Up there by the grey house after the bus stop.
We’re going to have a car picnic. Chat. Look around us. Have our morning glory
muffins. I would have lit a candle if I had one. Wrapped us in a fur throw.
He was befuddled.
We’re always going somewhere. On task. Checking off the to-do list.
This wasn’t on the list.
Friends saw our car and stopped. Car trouble? No we’re just having a little picnic. You
know, living in the moment.
I didn’t say it then, but we were going hygge.
A new term I learned. It’s Danish.
“Hygge is a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of
contentment or well-being.”
Pronounced hoog-uh. It’s like being wrapped in a soft, warm blanket.
Going hygge in Denmark means inviting friends to come home. Roaring fire. Candles.
Soft fuzzy wraps. Comfort food.
Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, said that hygge
is such an important part of being Danish that it is considered “a defining feature of our
cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA”.
I love that.
He goes on to say that what freedom is to Americans, hygge is to Danes.
Maybe the national obsession with all things cozy is the reason Denmark is at the top of
the happiest country list.
Danes burn thirteen pounds of candle wax a year. Per capita. More than any other
country. Candles, you see, may be the most important part of creating a hygge
atmosphere. Along with the roaring fire. Rabbit throw.
But then layer in an oversized sweater. Thick knitted socks. And a hyggebukser….the
Danish word for that pair of pants you wouldn’t be caught dead in in public.
Simple comfort food…not fancy. Chicken pot pie. cocoa. An extra hunk of danish.
And friends. You don’t hygge alone. You have your tribe. Those friends you feel safest
Can Americans bring themselves to go hygge? I’m not sure. We live in a big, fast-
Pretty cynical too.
I’ve read articles here that dismiss all this hygge stuff because they say the poor Danes
have no options. After all, their country is closer to the Arctic Circle so it’s crazy dark a
fair amount of the year. Cold. Wet. Snowy. They need to hunker in to survive.
Other articles say that interest in adopting hygge in this country is a big sales hype. All
about creating a new trend and selling more stuff. Like we are wont to do. Sheepskin
throws on all the chairs. Beeswax candles. hygge stuff.
Maybe if it came with free education and healthcare. Private income for the public good.
People over profit. Then it might gain a little traction. Bernie would promote it.
Danish people probably feel so good about how they’re living and what they’re giving
back that they have no guilt going hygge.
And I’m with them.
And you should be too.
Throw on a Fair Isle sweater with your hyggebukser. I’ll light the fire and a few dozen
candles. Round up the crew and we’ll cook up some reindeer stew. A frosty glogg. And
pretend we can actually see the northern lights.
It’ll feel great.