Here's What 'Hygge' Means — And Why You Should Try It

svetikd / Getty Images
Feet up near the fire in a winter cabin.
It could change your life.

There’s a new word on everybody’s tongue, and if you haven’t come across it yet, just wait. Without further ado, meet our new favorite word: hygge.

Although it’s hard to pronounce, hygge (commonly pronounced “hoo-gah”) is actually quite simple. The centuries-old Danish term can’t be directly translated into English, but loosely, it means “coziness.” Reading a book by the fire, sipping hot chocolate and playing a board game with friends are all great examples of hygge.

More broadly, hygge is an outlook on life, a way of celebrating the little things and enjoying oneself. Not surprisingly, many people believe hygge is one of the reasons Denmark and other Scandinavian countries consistently top the list of happiest countries in the world.

"The rest of the world seems to be slowly waking up to what Danes have been wise to for generations—that having a relaxed, cozy time with friends and family, often with coffee, cake or beer, can be good for the soul," Helen Russell, author of The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country, told the BBC. For Russell, hygge is the “complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming.”

The beloved word, which the Danes scatter liberally throughout their daily lives and conversations, can be used as an adjective, a noun and a verb. Basically, you name it, you can hygge it.

Hygge has become one of Denmark’s biggest exports, with brands all over the world angling to capitalize on the revolution. In fact, is now so trendy, that it was shortlisted for the 2016 Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year. There are also more than 1.5 million posts on Instagram tagged #hygge. TIME reports that even Bloomingdale’s is getting its hygge on. Kevin Harter, VP of Fashion Direction for Bloomingdale’s Home department, told TIME that “hygge is making its way from Denmark to the U.S. At Bloomingdale’s, it is a concept that we are bringing to life through our product assortment and creative direction in catalogs and in-store visual displays.” That means the retailer is stocking more faux fur throws and luxury scented candles than ever.

So how can you embrace the hygge phenomenon? Luckily, Swedish furniture giant IKEA compiled a handy set of guidelines on how to hygge:

1. Express your creativity (You know you’ve been waiting to try one of our adult coloring books.)

2. Share good food with good friends (Check out our list of the 101 best comfort food recipes)

3. Choose a “me time” spot

4. Make something with your hands (Got mason jars? We’ve got a list of crafts to try on them!)

5. Take a break for coffee (Visit Bitty & Beau’s coffee shop in Wilmington, NC.)

6. Make simple things special (Start by sprucing up that fireplace mantle.)

7. Pamper yourself (You’re going to need this 14 beauty products our southern grandmothers swear by.)

Happy hygging!

DownComment IconEmail IconFacebook IconGoogle Plus IconGrid IconInstagram IconLinkedin IconList IconMenu IconMinus IconPinterest IconPlus IconRss IconSave IconSearch IconShare IconShopping Cart IconSpeech BubbleSnapchat IconTumblr IconTwitter IconWhatsapp IconYoutube Icon