What do Danes mean by “hygge”?

(VOVWORLD) - In recent years, the Danish word ‘hygge’ and the simple lifestyle of the Danes has been trending around the world. ‘Hygge’ can be translated as "cosiness" or “happiness”, but it’s more than that. Let’s talk with Danish native Nellly Scheuer to find out what ‘hygge’ really means.
What do Danes mean by “hygge”? - ảnh 1Dinners in Denmark often last for hours. That gives the Danes a space for meaningful discussions and hygge. (Photo: denmark.dk)

Bao Tram: Hi Nelly, welcome to VOV’s Cultural Rendezvous! Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Nellly Scheuer: Hi, thank you for having me, my name is Nelly and I’m a 23-year-old student from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Bao Tram: Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘hygge’ as a quality of cosiness that comes from doing simple things or spending time at home with your family while the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary describes ‘hygge’ as the quality of being warm and comfortable that gives a feeling of happiness. So what’s your definition of ‘hygge’?

Nellly Scheuer: ‘Hygge’ is subjective, it means something slightly different depending on who you ask. I might not find the things you think are hygge, very hyggelige, and the other way around. ‘Hygge’ is whatever you enjoy. It can be anything as long as you enjoy doing it, or enjoy being in that setting, it is hygge. ‘Hygge’ can be applied to all areas that can be made comfortable. If you make the workspace comfortable to be in, you will create a setting that allows hygge at work. The same goes for hygge at home.

Bao Tram: Who initiated the idea?

Nellly Scheuer: ‘Hygge’ is a social construct. No one originally initiated the idea. ‘Hygge’ isn’t really a firm concept. Its more just a word that we put a lot of meaning into. It’s not very concrete, and very hard to precisely define.

What do Danes mean by “hygge”? - ảnh 2A simple but warm hygge atmostphere. (Photo: bungalow.com)

Bao Tram: As the above definitions of ‘hygge’ mention the feeling or the quality of cosiness or being warm, the concept is somewhat related to winter, isn’t it?

Nellly Scheuer: Winter is the season for hot tea and warm blankets. These are things that a lot of people associate with hygge. But hygge is an all-year concept. You can always find hygge.

Bao Tram: So how can we bring ‘hygge’ into life?

Nellly Scheuer: Well, as I mentioned earlier, ‘hygge’ is subjective, so you need to listen to yourself, if you want to have more ‘hygge’ in your life. For me ‘hygge’ is when I allow myself to do what I really feel like doing, not what I should be doing, but what I want to do, allowing myself to ignore my responsibilities and my commitments, just for a short while, to take a break. This is where I find ‘hygge’ in all shapes and sizes, cause what I want to be doing can be all sorts of things.

What do Danes mean by “hygge”? - ảnh 323-year-old student Nellly Scheuer from Copenhagen, Denmark.
Bao Tram: You can’t buy ‘hygge’. ‘Hygge’ is being yourself, totally at peace with everything - even your sorrows. Do I get it right?

Nellly Scheuer: You make ‘hygge’ sound a lot bigger than it is. ‘Hygge’ is all about feeling good, you are right about that, but you don’t have to be at peace with everything, to feel ‘hygge’. It’s more about being comfortable, moderately comfortable, not perfect, just moderately comfortable, and generally satisfied with how things are. That’s ‘hygge’.

Bao Tram: Thank you, Nelly, for sharing with us the concept of ‘hygge’.

Nellly Scheuer: Thank you for inviting me!