What is hygge? Learn about Denmark's very own brand of cosiness

Have you heard of hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”)? It’s a way of life in Denmark, and there’s been a recent buzz around the subject. It certainly contributes to Denmark being the happiest country in the world.…

1 May 17 · 3 mins read

Have you heard of hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”)? It’s a way of life in Denmark, and there’s been a recent buzz around the subject. It certainly contributes to Denmark being the happiest country in the world. No less than nine books about the concept of hygge came out in 2016. The word hygge was a finalist for the Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 Word of the Year. So what’s all the fuss about?

What is Hygge?

Hygge is a Danish term for which, it seems, there is no direct translation. However, it contains senses of cosiness, conviviality, mindfulness of the mundane, and connecting with loved ones. It’s about enjoying the little things and creating nice moments. Articles about hygge often reference plenty of candles and warm socks, or a meal with family and friends as guests. In the New Yorker, Anna Altman explains the term’s etymology. Hygge according to Ms Altman can be traced to a distant ancestor that relates to the word hug.


According to Country Living, the warm and cozy lifestyle promoted by hygge, derived from a Norwegian word for “well-being”, is similar to the German concept of gemütlichkeit and the Dutch idea of gezelligheid. Elle UK provides more ways to embrace the lifestyle, such as heading home early from work to spend time with family, and dressing warmly. It doesn’t seem much, but it takes quite a different mindset to get away from the everyday rush.

Denmark’s official tourist website devotes an entire page to hygge, which advertises year-round activities — from winter candles and mulled wine — to picnics and outdoor concerts in beautiful weather that can generate the feeling.

The New York Times has helpfully put together a list of short reviews of hygge-centric literature should you wish to read about this subject.

Odyssey Traveller Tours in Denmark

On Odyssey Traveller’s Culture & History of Denmark tour, we learn about the vital components of the hygge lifestyle during our 20 days long small group tour in Denmark.

Would you like to see Scandinavia beyond Denmark, why not try our Scandinavian small group tour? Then join us and you’ll journey to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, explore the cities of Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm along the way absorbing the amazing scenery, museums, history, culture and philosophies of this region.

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