Hygge, coming soon to a Target near you! Hygge, pronounced ‘hooga’, is the official word the Danish use when referring to “coziness”, and the concept may be traveling internationally to interject itself into American homes. The unusual term even made the short list on the Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 “Word of the Year”. (That honor went to the word ‘post-truth’ after “much debate”.)
Hygge is difficult to explain. In the most basic way, it’s the creation of a warm home by surrounding oneself with good things shared with good people - visions of candles, cozy blankets, a roaring fireplace, your much-loved foods cooking, and a nice glass of gløgg to share with your favorite people. Cozy is the opposite of tension, and to achieve true hygge, try and keep the anxiety inducing elements from the daydream.
Nevertheless, the Danish take great pride in this concept, and Americans seem to be eager to learn more about it. The Danish are reputed to be happiest people in the world, so maybe we all should just sit down in front of a burning candle with a hot cup of tea and take note.
Most of us already realize that an inviting home, whether it is a space just for us and our immediate family, or one set up to entertain the neighborhood, creates a better quality of life. It’s why Homegoods, Pottery Barn and other home décor retailers exploded in popularity. The winter holiday season oozes hygge. Akin to crafting a great beer, crafting a great home showcases one’s talents and creative character.
What hygge does is provide a proven prototype of what rings true in many households already – pride in one’s hard earned home, whether it be a ‘tiny house’ or a custom villa, bought or rented, fancy or simple, with a friendliness and love others recognize, which improves a person’s overall quality of life. A house without intent to be hospitable isn’t a home at all.
Hygge asks us to stop and take pleasure in the small luxuries that make us linger long past the end of dinner, to talk and discuss life with friends and family, and to buy that throw pillow so our couches aren’t a plain abyss. Nothing says “come inside” like the aroma of a crock pot meal seeping out through the tiny cracks around your front door.
So, turn your barely used dining room with furniture you don’t love into a cozy den with seating for 8, or string lights from your boat dock and set up a small fire pit. Invite friends over, even if your house isn’t perfectly clean. Who cares, theirs isn’t either. (Read Shauna Niequist’s book Bread and Wine to help with that.)
And protect your assets, even if you don’t think they amount to much.
No one who looks back wistfully on childhood weekends spent at the family homestead with great meals and great company says, “Gee, I’m so glad that after grandma and grandpa died, we lost the family house.”
A phone call to a respected, experienced professional can help keep those priceless memories warm and well-remembered for as long as hygge is a human value.