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4min read

What Is Hygge, The ‘Danish Art Of Happiness’?

by Toni Olukiran

4min read

Every autumn, we save warm blankets and comforting casserole recipes on our Pinterest boards in a bid to live the cosy life. And this isn’t a new idea. In fact, the Danish have been living these principles in a practice called hygge. But what does hygge mean, and how can we incorporate it into our lives?

What does hygge mean?

Hygge is a Danish word, and it doesn’t actually have a direct translation into English. The most accurate translation would probably be cosiness and contentment; the oxford translation describes it as ‘a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being’. 

As Nordic countries experience dark, long winters, it’s not surprising that it has become important to the culture to find comfort indoors. It does say a lot about Danish and Norwegian approaches to rather dreary winters. Clearly, this philosophy works: Denmark consistently ranks highly in the category of the happiest countries in the world, and tops lists for wellbeing too, alongside Finland, Iceland and Norway who also share similar long and dark winters. 

The philosophy of finding contentment indoors is probably more relevant than ever, so what tips can we take on this coming autumn and winter to experience hygge-like contentment?

Feelings of connection

Intimate, wholesome moments with friends and family are seen as important to feeling a sense of contentment. Usually, pictures of hygge visualise it as people cuddling, or having a small dinner party, or wrapped up with a blanket with a pet. This is because hygge can actually be traced to the Norwegian word from the sixteenth century, hugga, meaning ‘to comfort’ and this would roughly translate in English as ‘to hug’. Socialising with the people closest to you is important to feelings of cosiness and safety, which is what hygge is all about. 

Warm, hearty food

Comfort food is important to feelings of warmth and comfort which is no doubt why it is important to the hygge lifestyle. Hearty soups, thick porridges and decadent traybakes are the best ways to eat the hygge way, and they all pair well when washed down with a rich hot chocolate or frothy coffee. It all contributes to feelings of being carefree and happy.

Comfortable clothing

When we think of hygge one of the main things that spring to mind is fuzzy socks. This is because the philosophy of hygge is also based on being completely comfortable, and clothing is included in this. Chunky knits and fluffy blankets are often the names of the game, due to hygge being a lifestyle that is dictated by colder weather. Hygge also means comfortable clothing from head to toe — underwear included. You are encouraged to wear the underwear that you wouldn’t normally wear outside, which is called hyggebuksar.

A cosy environment

book of higgle on bed with candle and tea

Creating an environment in which you feel safe and secure is intrinsic to the hygge philosophy; if you’re spending more time indoors, you’ve got to make it nice! This is often why hygge aesthetics are associated with candles, to create an energy of complete calm and contentment. 


By Toni Olukiran
Toni Olukiran

Toni is one of our lovely Content Marketing Assistants, and when she’s not writing posts about everything from Jamaican cooking to vegan champagne, she’s making a Spotify playlist (she was at 200, at her last count) or playing tennis in the park.

Read more from Toni

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