When we think of untranslatable words – words from another language that do not have an exact match in English – the first one we’re likely to think of is schadenfreude, which is German for taking pleasure in another’s misfortune. With the holidays upon us, along with short days and long cold nights, let’s learn about another untranslatable word – hygge.
Hygge (pronounced hue-gah; sounds like “hooga”) is Danish, and generally means cosiness, but that’s an oversimplification. It’s the feeling of closeness and warmth, and taking pleasure in the simple things in life that Danes enjoy during the long winter months. While this might not sound terribly unique, its the intention to slow down and appreciate small moments in life that Danes are mindful of – something Americans often take for granted. Danes, after all, are considered the happiest people in the world.
For an introduction, start with The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection by Louisa Thomsen Brits. Brits introduces us to the concept of hygge and how it is reflected in everything from the popularity of simply designed but high quality furniture to how Danes raise their children. Meik Wiking, in his book The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, not only introduces hygge to American readers but provides us with advice on how to incorporate ideas into our own lives as well.
For more in-depth applications of hygge, check out The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids by Jessica Joelle Alexander. The author lays out six principles for raising well-adjusted kids, which include empathy, togetherness and the importance of play. If food’s your thing, then be sure to peruse Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge by Trina Hahnemann for warm and nourishing recipes you can enjoy year round, and Scandikitchen Fika & Hygge: Comforting Cakes and Bakes from Scandinavia with Love by Bronte Aurell. Not only will you learn how to make cakes, buns, pastries, breads and cookies, you’ll also learn about fika – the Swedish act of taking a daily (or twice daily) break from the grind to enjoy a treat with coffee or tea. For more on fika, be sure to check out Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and other Treats by Anna Brones.
~posted by Frank