Hygge honey, is the best thing ever
By Kirsten Nolan
Staff Great Dane
If you are like me and spend an embarrassing amount of time stalking lifestyle bloggers on social media, you are bound to have come across the Danish word “hygge.” Or maybe you saw it on a hardcover book in Barnes & Noble, and intrigued, you picked it up only to learn that the small book costs a whopping twenty dollars and it is ridiculous to put that price tag on something like hygge, which really should cost no money at all. Whether or not you have heard of the word “hygge” before reading this article, you are probably confused by it. Hygge cannot be easily translated into English, but some Danish people have described it as being “consciously cozy” or something that is warm and intimate. I just came back from studying abroad in Denmark for four months, where I lived with a Danish family in the suburbs outside of Copenhagen, so I like to think I know a thing or two about hygge. I have basically become an American ambassador for hygge and I am here to impart my Danish knowledge on your ignorant American brain.
First of all, when trying to pronounce the word, throw everything you know about pronouncing things out the window. It’s pronounced like “hoo-gah.” Not “hig-gee.” Not “high-gee.” But “hoo-gah.” I will never be able to pronounce the word exactly, because Danish people swallow their vowels when they speak, and it is an accent I find impossible to mimic, but I know that saying “hoo-gah” is as good as our American tongues are going to get at it. There is also an adverb form of the word: “hyggeligt,” but even after trying to make my Danish host mom to explain it to me, I have no idea when to use which version of the word, so I am sticking to the now-Americanized “hygge.”
To create a hygge atmosphere, there are some essential elements. You want the lighting to be dim in order to set the mood. Fluorescent lighting is an absolute no-no, so if you are trying to turn your dorm into a magical hygge enclave you will have to buy some fairy lights ASAP and never turn your light switch in your room on again. Maybe even defy Fordham Res Life and light yourself a few candles. Just please do not set your dorm on fire. That would not be very hygge. Next, you should have your closest friends and/or family around you and your electronics should be tucked away. Phones, laptops, iPads, television, etc. all diminish a hygge atmosphere. I will admit that many of my hygge nights while I was abroad were documented on my Instagram story, but I am conscious of the fact that documenting my hygge night on social media took away from the hygge-ness of it all. Instead, being present and partaking in good conversation with the people you’re closest to is what makes an environment more hygge. Drinking a hot cup of tea, coffee, or maybe a having a few beers with your friends also contributes to a hygge setting. Indulging in a delicious pastry is also a major key, if you let me quote DJ Khaled. Finally, wearing comfortable clothes (think thick woolen socks and cozy sweaters) while tucked under warm blankets is the icing on the hygge cake.
Now, you should not try too hard to create a hygge situation. A lot of American bloggers try to come up with all different ways to “be hygge” and they market their brands as “hygge,” but really hygge is more of a feeling than a product. For instance, a few weeks ago an ad came up on my Instagram for what this company was calling hygge workout attire. I scoffed because working out and hygge are essentially opposites. I’m sure the workout clothes are softer and cozier than your average Lululemon leggings, but they are certainly not hygge when the concept of working out stands against some of the best parts of a hygge atmosphere – sitting and eating desserts.
It is really quite simple to create a hygge environment for yourself and I highly recommend it. And truthfully, from what I could tell at least, Danish people basically call any good time with friends “hygge,” but the specifics of a hygge atmosphere are fun to create. If you want to have an authentic hygge experience, turn on your electric kettle, pour yourself a cup of tea, sit with your closest friends and/or family and just chat away about nothing and everything. Hygge is all about being comfortable, warm, and having a nice time. It is the perfect escape from the mind-numbing hours that we (or maybe it’s just me) spend scrolling through Instagram, mocking the fake perfect lives of people who think there can be hygge workout clothes.
Here is a good video by Lucie Fink on how to get all Hygge-y: