Sometime ago, I bookmarked a website that mentioned the Danish word, hygge. It’s one of the words that is not easy to translate into English using just one word. Like in so many Germanic languages, related concepts are strung together to make one word and hygge is one of those. There is some thought that it might relate to the English word, hug.
Definitions include, healing, harmony, down to earth, comfortable, soothing, cozy, warm, safe. And yet none truly captures the definition, which is basically, all of the above. My sense is you have to be Danish to fully “get it”.
Hygge is about creating a warm atmosphere — spending time with good friends, eating good food (not fancy, but good), taking time to appreciate what you have, building a good “work/life” balance — and the Danes have the best work/life balance in the world, probably not a coincidence. It has implications for work (friendliness and trust over competition) and eating (don’t clear away the plates so quickly, linger together), and of course, interior design.
There have been many times in my life when I have felt “hygge“.
Just last night, Mr. Not So Curious and I spent the evening with close friends who live so nearby that we can walk to their house. Just that sensation of being so close geographically made me feel good inside. We brought some food, they prepared other dishes and grilled steaks and we sat on the screened porch and looked at their lovely garden and watched the sun setting. Because we are so close to Central Time, the sun actually sets here closer to 10pm then 8pm in the summer.
Then we played cards. I’m not a great card player so it can sometimes be disappointing, but despite not being the “winner”, there were all the feelings associated with hygge: comfort, friendliness, contentment, light, coziness, etc. A lovely evening.
The photo below is of the sun setting over the cornfields of Ohio last night.