I am sitting in my living room with my friends doing a female scientist puzzle. It is dark with just rays of sunlight providing streams of brightness into the room. This is cozy. This is comfortable. This is hygge.
According to hyggehouse.com, hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a Danish word used to acknowledge a special feeling or moment. It can be alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary but is always cozy, charming or special. Having studied abroad in Denmark, I learned a lot about hygge. I was entranced by the idea of having special moments with friends and family over candle light, drinking hot chocolate in the cold dark winter, and snuggling under fuzzy blankets. I wanted to make hygge happen every day I was in Denmark, but my Danish host family told me you can’t force hygge, it just happens.
Hygge has made its way over to America, and of course, has become a trend all over YouTube and Instagram. While I love aesthetically pleasing pictures of wine and candlelight, it just doesn’t feel like hygge to me. Hygge isn’t an action, it is a moment. You can’t create it, it just has to happen. Yes, you can set some mood lighting and snuggle inside by a fireplace, but hygge is a feeling.
Amidst a world full of social media and competition, hygge is a beautiful, meaningful thing. It’s a time to set your phone down and just spend quality time with loved ones. In America, hygge has translated into an aesthetic, but it is not an Instagram-worthy event, it is not a party theme, it is just a feeling. I love hygge because it is about being in the moment and actually appreciating loved ones. So you want to experience hygge? Here is my advice: put down the phone and start talking face-to-face, swap out electricity and try to use candle light, and in the brutal Chicago winter, cozy up under a blanket by yourself and just read a good book. Hygge is different for everyone, and you may not even notice when you’re feeling it!