Chances are you’ve seen this word plenty.
In fact, “Hygge” (pronounced who – gah and hailing from Norway and Denmark) is the highest trending word of 2017 thus far.
But beyond the plethora of Pinterest pins to peruse and the almost 1.6 million Instagram posts hash tagging hygge. Beyond the glossy magazine spreads and the countless curated displays promoting maximum coziness at bookstores - what does this little word truly mean?
Does it always involve excessively warm socks in bed as most pics would have you believe? Do I need to buy something to achieve it?
I did some digging because I was tired of seeing the word paired with woolly knee highs and mugs of cocoa in every magazine over the winter holidays. Also I tend to reject trends as is my contrarian nature. Popular movie? Don’t want to see it until the hype has died down. Oscar worthy? Who cares - not me! I approached the concept of hygge cautiously, like courting a somewhat erratic new designer dog breed – small enough to fit in your purse, fuzzy enough to keep you warm.
Here’s what I found:
As with all really good design that elicits an emotional response, the concept of hygge is a natural extension of many good things. For the time being let’s place them all under the overarching umbrella of “well-being”. One literal definition states it as; “The absence of anything annoying.” For me this also means the absence of longing or striving and truly experiencing simple good fortunes.
Hygge means taking the time to feel, see and create this sense of well- being in your everyday. Like relishing the ritual of a meal with people you enjoy and the unspoken connection that weaves a spell on a convivial night.
I’m always so keen to hear about the latest chef making a name for her or himself who didn’t go to culinary school, but instead went to film school. Why? Because the things that evoke and invoke responses within us, those that bring a sense of peace and joy and equanimity are always connected to a sense of story. The story of the trendy word “hygge” is a lucky, lovely, intentional one. It’s the story of a sense of place in this world maybe marked by beautiful things, a room, a table, a ritual alone or with others. It’s the acknowledgement that we’re lucky to have our four walls to keep us warm, lucky to be able to throw open our windows to feel the breeze, lucky to grow our relationships with whoever we call our friends and families, lucky to be able to contemplate what brings us peace and joy.
So yes, light candles in the mid day darkness of winter and wrap your hands around earthenware mugs filled with steaming bevvies as Pinterest suggests! Notice your kitchen brighten by a break in the wet clouds as you eat sweet treats to usher in the verdant green buds and lush blooming blossoms of Spring. Enjoy a fire in the waning sunlight of a summer night and watch your child, wrapped in a blanket after a swim in an eastern river, giggle with his grandpa who will be gone too soon. And when Autumn comes, if you want, gather your people for the beginning of the feasting holidays. Intentionally create the time however brief, to connect to yourself, your environment and to others - these times feed your soul.