If you haven’t already heard of the term ‘hygge’ – which is unlikely, as dozens of books and articles have been published in several countries about it – then you will certainly hear it when you arrive in Denmark; while you’re still at the airport even. So what is this weird word Danes use so frequently that sounds like ‘hue-guh’?
The term ‘hygge’ started being used in Denmark and Norway, but is becoming a trend in America and Britain, and it was even shortlisted to be the 2016 Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year. The word’s definition is the following: ‘a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being’ (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
For Danes, creating the ultimate hyggelig environment means being alone or with people you feel comfortable with, turning off your mobile phones, not checking up on your social media, and forgetting life’s worries for a while. This can be achieved in various ways and places, but, as winter in Denmark is long and cold, one of the most typical hygge scenes is indoors (in front of a fireplace even better) at your place or a friend’s, accompanied by some essential features, such as candles and a nice meal and drink. If you’re alone, add a woolen blanket and your favorite pajamas to the picture and your hygge scene is complete.
According to happiness experts, indulging in a tasty meal, as well as spending a lot of time on a Saturday morning preparing it, is part of the hyggeness. It’s up to you to decide what to cook and eat – Danes, however, prefer a delicious, creamy soup with fish or split peas, or a recipe including their favorite kind of meat, pork (flæskesteg and æbleflæsk are two of the most favorite). Guilty pleasures couldn’t be missing from the list and for locals this includes cinnamon buns or apple pancakes (æbleskiver). When it comes to drinking, a warm cup of coffee or a glass of traditional Christmas wine (gløgg) are on the top of the list.
A relaxed walk around the lakes at Drønning Louise Bro in Nørrebro or a picnic at the city’s parks will definitely add some moments of happiness to your day. Frederiksberg Have and the Royal Library Garden are among local favorites. If you don’t want to miss a single minute of sightseeing, but still want to loosen up a little, take the boat tour that will show you around Copenhagen’s main attractions. For those who are visiting Copenhagen in the winter, being outdoors in subzero degrees definitely isn’t hygge. But luckily for us, the city is full of cozy cafés. Mellemrummet in Nørrebro, Retro Café on Jægersborggade and Paludan in the city center offer comfy couches and a quite environment ideal for some hygge.