Hygge | Youth Cancer Trust


by | Oct 15, 2021

Got the Autumn/ Winter Blues? It’s time to get cosy.

The concept of hygge exploded into British culture in 2016, with numerous books and articles being published. It was quickly adopted as a buzz word for retail marketing and has been used to promote items such as cashmere, fluffy blankets, cushions, wine, candles, yoga retreats, log cabin holidays, sewing patterns and recipes.

Hygge is a Danish term which famously cannot be translated exactly, but tends to represent a feeling of cosiness, well -being, warmth and comfort.

An article in the New Yorker in December 2016 states that ‘It derives from a sixteenth-century Norwegian term, hugga, meaning “to comfort” or “to console,” which is related to the English word “hug.”

There have been many debates over the correct pronunciation, with ‘Hoo -ga’ being a popular suggestion.

So, what actually is Hygge?

The Visit Denmark website states that ‘In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Cosying up with a loved one for a movie – that’s hygge, too. And there’s nothing more hygge than sitting around with friends and family, discussing the big and small things in life.’

Danish winters are long, dark and cold so it’s reported that hygge helps the Danes to enjoy the winter months by getting cosy with blankets, candles, mulled wine or hot chocolate and spending quality time with loved ones.

Country Living magazine further suggests that hygge is about the simple and meaningful things in life.

Hygge is embedded deeply in Danish culture, far beyond what we’ve adopted in Britain. You can enjoy hygge-music, a hygge chat and have a hygge Christmas. “Hyg dig”is a common way of saying goodbye, meaning ‘have hygge’.  It is, in its origin, deemed to be traditional, non-commercial and devoid of modern technology.

Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen says “Hygge is such an important part of being Danish that it is considered a defining feature of our cultural identity”. In fact, it’s claimed that hygge is one of the reasons Denmark is renowned for being one of the happiest countries in the world.

However, Charlotte Higgins, in her November 2016 article for The Guardian ‘The Hygge Conspiracy’, suggests there is a darker side to hygge. She acknowledges how hygge has been used as a marketing tool, and also hints that it can cause isolation and loneliness for those that don’t have those meaningful connections, or for those that sit outside of a community.

It can even be said that hygge does add some pressure to be happy all the time and avoid topics that are challenging or unpleasant. It has a political and historical thread running through it.

We can learn much from the concept of hygge in making our British winters more enjoyable, and to celebrate the cosy opportunities the darker nights provide. Here are some tips on how to bring hygge into your life:

  1. Get cosy:

Make your home cosy with comfy cushions, snuggly blankets and soft lighting. Add some candles and a log burner or choose soft knit jumpers and socks to keep you and your home warm and toasty.

  • Indulge:

Treat yourself to a luxurious bath or spend time doing something you enjoy. Focus on feeling good and creating that warm glow.

  • Nature:

Spend time in nature visiting your favourite parks, forests and beaches. Wrap up warm and you enjoy a hot chocolate if you get chilly. Bring nature into your home with plants and natural items such as sea shells you’ve collected.

  • Simple Pleasures:

Take a screen break and curl up with a good book. Enjoy a board game or indulge the senses with baking bread and enjoying the delicious aroma through the house. Take things slowly for a day, try to avoid rushing around and have a day at leisure.

  • Friends and Family:

Spend time with special people that make you feel good. Maybe you can enjoy some hygge activities together. Or make time to indulge yourself.

 To find out more about hygge there are lots of articles and books that can easily be found online. You can also share your own ideas in the Facebook group chat.

Here are a few suggestions:

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living

Book by Meik Wiking

Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness 

Book by Marie Tourell Søderberg

How to Hygge: The Secrets of Nordic Living

Book by Signe Johansen


Hyg dig!

Article by Wendy Parrott