It’s pronounced hoo-ga and the Oxford dictionary defines it thusly:
A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
So, Denmark. If you’re like me, all you know about Denmark is that it has something to do with IKEA. And like me, you would be wrong, because IKEA is a Swedish company.
Hmm. I looked it up. Here is what Denmark is all about.
- It is pretty dark in the winter months. And cold. And windy. Like here. But…darker.
- People ride bikes a lot. As in, to work. As in, they aren’t bike messengers.
- Friday is candy day. They love candy. And cake.
- Healthcare is free. That sounds like a fairy tale, doesn’t it?
- Lots of vacation time. That they actually take.
- It is ranked one of the happiest countries in the world. Along with Finland and Norway. And how do we know this? Because the UN publishes a yearly “World Happiness Report.” Where does the U.S. rank, you may ask? Well, we are #19. We are less happy than the folks in Israel #12, and to put that in context, the government in Israel issues gas masks to all its citizens, in case of poison gas attack. But I guess, #19 out of 156 isn’t all that bad.
Wow, I get why the Danes are so happy. Fresh air, sweets, healthcare and vacation time. And something else: hygge. Not just an aesthetic*, but a mind set. People before things.
But I’m an unhappy American so I’m going to talk about things.
Hygge actually was kind of big in 2017, but Walmart and I are always 2 years behind the trends. So, if you want to be on trend in a Mary-Walmart kind of way, hygge is the way to go. Hygge is all over Christmas this year. Walmart calls its Christmas trend “Nordic” but you know. Kind of similar.
What does a hygge holiday season look like?
The decor is simple, almost spare. Forget over-the-top decorator trees and lush garlands, or sequin pillows. Hygge Christmas decor is neutral tones and natural (or natural-like) Christmas trees, with space in between the branches to show off a few whimsical, woodsy ornaments. Birch bark touches, furry throws, and warm, white lights. I love it because it’s so much simpler. Hygge is all about keeping things simple and appreciating the small things. I’m looking at my tissue box and it’s covered with a pattern of faux birch bark. So simple. Even my tissues are hygge.
And fashion? Well, you’re going to save some money on blow outs. Sorry, Sephora. Hygge is messy hair buns, no-makeup (or minimal makeup), comfy clothes and fuzzy socks. The socks are apparently essential to hygge.
Now, let’s talk about food. Hygge is about comfort food, and my word, it is about the big cups. Big cups of tea. Big cups of cocoa. Home-baked cookies. Stews. Chili. Not sushi. Warm stuff. I would say that is where we unhappy Americans have it down. We know how to chow at Christmas.
How about shopping? It’s Christmas, so we need to shop, right? Well, yes, but not at a mall. Malls are not hygge. You could browse at a Christmas market, so hygge. Or a crafts fair.
Self-care is the buzz word, in case you have been living under a rock, like myself (which would be a little hygge, actually). We are all so stressed, we have resorted to making self-care a trend. Remember when we used to go clubbing all night in stilettos to thumping house music? Yeah, me neither. But that happened, I’m told. Not this year. Glamour is out. Comfort is in. Keeping up with the Kardashians? Not hygge. They would be the anti-hygge. Books, now that’s hygge. Knitting is very hygge. Friendsgiving? So hygge. Hygge is homey. As in, you stay at home. And take naps. Or snuggle up on the couch with huge, soft throw blankets and some candles burning and a fire in the fireplace, if you have one. Cozy.
Wow, that pretty much sums up my life. I was hygge when hygge wasn’t cool.
*I told myself I wasn’t going to say that word anymore. I also told myself I was going to the gym yesterday, so there you go.